The Westmorland Journey

Inner Lining of the New Barbour Westmorland in Classic Tartan

Over the past few years, I’ve had multiple Barbour Westmorland vests but varying experiences with them. Whether it was fit or condition, I’ve wondered if I would ever find a Westmorland that was just right. However, I was still determined to find the right size Barbour Westmorland to end it all. Little did I know that the Barbour Westmorland in a size large seems to be harder to find than hens teeth. On eBay, the desirability for any Westmorland is fascinating. Even recently, I’ve seen vintage Westmorland vests in fair condition sell for the same price as a brand new one. Living in Canada, finding any Westmorland for sale in the country is virtually impossible. So my hunt began to find the one and only Barbour Westmorland for me. 

The history of the Barbour Westmorland dates back to approximately the same time as the Bedale’s introduction in 1982. If you read the descriptions of the Bedale and Westmorland, you can see similarities in construction and identical length. Essentially, a Westmorland is a Bedale without arms. If that’s the case, I would personally just buy a Bedale as their price difference isn’t far off. I will admit, a vest like the Westmorland isn’t entirely practical for Canadian weather. As my wife says, “if it’s cold enough to protect your core, it’s cold enough to cover your arms.” However, I have found the Westmorland surprisingly useful for my needs. If I’m not going outside for a long period of time, but need the pockets and convenience of a Barbour, the Westmorland becomes the perfect companion.

The sizing of the new Westmorland is slightly different than the vintage ones. My vintage navy version was quite boxy and pretty brittle, so it may have just been a combination of age and a lack of wear to keep it worn in. My second Westmorland experience was buying a size small that had a great patina, wasn’t very old, but unfortunately didn’t fit by a huge margin. I measure a 42”-43” chest, so when confirming the size the medium measures 21” across and the large is 23.5” across. This leaves me with the opinions of an exact fit without layering and a slightly roomier fit in a size large. Once I had determined the size, I set out on the hunt to find a Barbour Westmorland online, not knowing what the journey had in store. Michael Stewart clothing had them in a medium and on sale for $184.07, which was tempting to see if the size could work but as I’ve had the issue with the sizing before, I decided against it as I wanted a perfect vest. After digging through what seemed like all Westmorland retailers, I ended up finding possibly the only size large on the 5th or 6th page of Google results at Swillington Shooting Supplies located in Swillington, Leeds. I was thrilled to find the vest but I was amused by the journey I had to take into the depths of the Google search pages.

On the technical side, the Westmorland features Sylkoil waxed cotton. The Sylkoil wax offers a more flexible, yet drier feel than the traditional Thornproof finish. However, when you re-wax your Barbour jackets, thornproof wax will be used. Unlike the vintage models that contain a “mandarin style” collar, the new Westmorland features a higher collar, fastens with a two-way front zip, and has a studded storm fly to seal out wind and rain. Though the description says “styled for a relaxed fit”, I would size up for the current models.  As with Barbour tradition, the Westmorland contains moleskin-lined hand warmer pockets, two fairly generous bellows pockets, and cotton lining with the classic Barbour tartan. The fit is pretty spot-on and allows for enough room for layering. Overall, the Westmorland is a helpful tool to consider and brings a huge value if you can find one at the right price and availability. 

When I asked Barbour distributors Cox The Saddler on the Westmorland’s suspected availability issues, I was at least relieved to know that the Barbour Westmorland has not been discontinued. Although, not available on the Barbour website, the Westmorland is still available and in production.  However, the transition to manufacturing outside of South Shields has led to inconsistent distribution along with a pause in manufacturing for a few seasons. I can imagine the supply chain delays that resulted from the COVID-19 pandemic led to even more production delays for Barbour entirely. The good news is that I’ve heard that the Westmorland should be more consistently restocked in mid 2022. This is, of course, an estimate, but I hope it gives us some encouragement for the availability of this Barbour classic.  

The Westmorland is a staple amongst Barbour enthusiasts but it still seems relatively underrated despite the perceived hype. We know that the “when in doubt” options from Barbour are the Bedale or Beaufort, but the Westmorland seems popular yet under-worn. For example, Instagram has a total of 196 tags for the Barbour Westmorland yet the Barbour Bedale has over 14,000. I can understand why that’s the case as the Bedale and Beaufort are perfect choices but I should argue that the Westmorland is a wonderful option for those seeking Barbour convenience without planning on having extended outdoor activities in harsh weather. If you own a classic Barbour, the Westmorland is a wonderful addition to your collection. Would I recommend the Westmorland to everyone? Not necessarily. I would, however, suggest the Westmorland if you’re thinking of wearing a Barbour jacket that stands outside of the box on its own.

Barbour Westmorland accompanied by a Barbour Fair Isle Sweater

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