Swiss Army L’Epaule Hooded Review: A Stylish Blouson
To be quite honest, I’ve never worn a blouson, despite having French heritage and being rather fashion conscious and adaptable. My excuse is that I’m more of a parka or bomber jacket kind of gentleman.
Basically, the L’Epaule is a hooded jacket with a wax coating that will create a patina over time, so it will build character the more you use it — or rather, wear it. Then, what better time to test it in this bipolar New York City fall?
Price as Reviewed: $395 at Victorinox
[pullquote]”Apologies for the messy dorm.”[/pullquote]
As a lightweight, weekender jacket the L’Epaule gets it right, stylistically. You can throw it onto any layer: a shirt, a sweater, a t-shirt or polo even, and get the same consistent result: it’ll keep you warm in 40 degree or so weather in NYC, while also preventing wind chill, the feeling of being wet after a fall mist or shower and general protection from the elements.
It does all of this through a mixture of 58% polyester, 22% cotton and 20% Polyamide, which gives it a net dry weight of 1.8 pounds — not too heavy, but definitely substantial.
The cut and quality are all top-notch, with the small variant reaching just below the belt line, which is ideal and gives the look of a good fit. The shoulders are kept to size, the cuffs can be fastened or let loose and the zipper provides complete encasing of the wearer, with an independent column of fasteners, which can be difficult to work with, can add and additional means of sealing you in. It’s like Victorinox doesn’t want you to ever be able to take the L’Epaule off, which is fine considering how comfortable it is to wear.
Did I mention the assortment of pockets? There’s a massive interior pocket on the lower left side, two elongated front pockets (very rigid and somewhat difficult to access without some fiddling, and one zippered pocket on the upper left breast, which I use to carry phones of various size: a Galaxy Note 5 can fit in rather snugly.
[pullquote]”It’s a versatile piece of clothing that any self-respecting man should have.”[/pullquote]
After leaving the L’Epaule on a command hook in my dorm, my new habit was to go out with whatever I was wearing and throw the blouson on. Not only to keep warm but to be “ready” for anything else that being outdoors consisted of. This, not excluding carrying a bottle of coconut water in the interior pouch, throwing the hood on after being surprised by a fall shower in the Upper West Side, and zipping up the jacket to look more formal and put-together for a quick meeting.
That being said, the only things that I don’t enjoy about the L’Epaule include on the elongated front pockets, which despite looking poise, are too small to completely protect my hands and are so close-sewn that they are not relatively easy to access. The hood, while adjustable, is reduced to a large, flopping piece of fabric if not kept orderly are the back and honestly requires more maintenance to look moderately symmetrical than it should.
Other than all that, this is a fine jacket blouson.
[pullquote]”The L’Epaule: the means to always look good, no matter the wind, rain or mist.”[/pullquote]
Looks good? Check. Is it versatile as a jacket, but also a positive fashion statement? Indeed, it is. Does it create an invisible barrier that protects the wearer from the rain? Nope.
However! It does a fine job of keeping warm and keeping water out, and will develop a unique surface aesthetic thanks tot he coating over time, so that also means it builds character.
- Looks sharp as hell
- Excellent cut and fit
- Nullifies effects of mist and showers
- Keeps you warm
- Elongated pockets can be hard to access
- Hood might be too floppy