Wax On, Wax Off: Waxed Cotton is Making a Comeback

February 13, 2015

waxcottonEvery fisherman should be wearing waxed cotton. Heck, you should probably be wearing it even if you’ve never hooked a fish in your life. It’s extremely durable, weather-resistant and looks pretty awesome on just about everyone. So where did this stylish fabric come from? Let’s have a look.

The Origins
It should come as no surprise that a fabric loved by fisherman came from the sea. The early 19th century saw its fair share of deep-sea fishing and travel by boat. Airplanes weren’t exactly plentiful at the time. When the mariners went out to sea they’d contend with waves and ferocious winds strong enough to tear apart cotton sails.

Rather than spend their time at sea waterlogged and walking around looking like wet dogs, the mariners fashioned clothes out of the torn sails. The cotton sails were covered in linseed oil, which protects against water, and the first waterproof gear was born.

The mariners soon found linseed oil had a few unfortunate side effects. Over time it would dry out and cause their clothing to become stiff, then turn a pee-yellow sort of color. That wasn’t very fashion-forward at the time, so clearly something had to be done to rectify this.

When the 1930s rolled around the mariners had discovered they could reap the same benefits using paraffin wax. It was just as, if not more so, effective as the linseed oil but without that crunchy after feeling and the color of armpit sweat. From there, wax has been applied to cotton jackets all over the world to help us all stay safe no matter what we’re doing.

It started showing up in Britain on rainwear and became pretty popular with motorcyclists. They managed to add it to colored garments, but to this day it still looks best on black or brown. Everybody loves that retro feel.

Why It’s The Jam
Waxed cotton outerwear and outdoorsmen go together like bees and honey. You just can’t have one without the other.

It harkens back to an era when men shaved with a straight razor rather than one of those electric do-hickies, back when beer was the drink of choice instead of a mango-infused smoothies. It’s from the time when men could be men and make no apologies for it. It’s a classic, and a good classic never goes out of style.

It also doesn’t hurt that this stuff is durable as hell. A good waxed cotton hat or jacket can last you for decades if properly taken care of and over time it’ll only show slight wear and tear. It ages with its owner, like a fine wine or good friend it sticks around for when you need it most.

A good waxed cotton vest will “crack” over time giving it a vintage feel, but never go out of style.

It’s Easy to Care For
Wax cotton, whether it’s a hat, jacket or vest, should never be thrown in the washing machine. It’s vintage and old school, which means a little old school scrubbing is needed to keep it clean. A little soap and water is all you need to keep your waxed cotton outfit clean and dry. Never use detergent on waxed cotton, else you’ll ruin its waterproofing abilities.

If you do need to re-proof your clothes, it’s a simple task as well. You can find a variety of proofing solutions at your local store. Just spray the proofer on your clothes evenly-it should turn white-and rub it in to get the full effect. After you buffer the proofing solution into your clothes hang it up to let it dry and you’re good to go.

Waxed cotton is simple to care for, easy to clean and will leave you looking great no matter what you’re doing. Check out our waxed cotton hat and fisherman’s vest and look for more vintage collections to come soon.



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