Left to my own devices on a recent weekend, I decided to re-wax my old Barbour Beaufort. With my girlfriend and roommates out of town I had the apartment to myself, so what better way to pass a sunny Saturday afternoon then with thornproof Barbour waxed dressing and a cask-aged Manhattan?
I bought my first Barbour several years ago, used on eBay for about fifty quid. I’ve since bought another this way. I highly recommend it. Used Barbours, in great shape, can be had on the British eBay at considerable savings - so long as you’re willing to put in the labour re-waxing these aged beauties.
The process is deceivingly simple; as long as you follow a few simple steps it’s hard to screw up.
You can see how faded the jacket looks after a season or two of wear without being properly waxed. While the patina of faded olive may look nice, the light almost-khaki coloured patches are spots where the wax dressing is completely worn off, and thus the durability and waterproofing of the jacket has been compromised. Furthermore a dried-out Barbour will rip and fray, the wax dressing keeps the fabric moist and resilient to things like… thorns.
I’ve read various blogs on how to wax a Barbour, and while most of the information in the blogosphere is good it tends to make the process sound more complex than it really is. The blogs also tend to skim over the fact that your hands will get very waxy undertaking this project, and it takes a little elbow grease.
First and foremost you need an open space, preferably a large table that you can move around easily. Spread the jacket out on newspaper, and give it a quick brush down to remove any chunks of mud or dust. Don’t use soap or water. Ever.
Next you need to pull out your handy tin of Barbour waxed dressing. There may be other brands that do the same job - I don’t really know, but this tin cost me twelve quid a couple years ago, and it does the job properly, so not worth messing around with imitators.
At this point you may want to grab your cocktail or single malt of choice.
To turn the wax into a liquid drop it in a pot of boiling water. Within a couple minutes it will turn clear and runny. Pull it out, throw it on a coaster near your jacket.
I use disposable sponges to apply the waxed dressing. They’re good because they can absorb some wax, but also don’t have too much surface area, and they are disposable.
Now the trick to applying the wax is to dab a little on to the sponge, then one section at a time apply it to your jacket. Map out a plan of attack so you don’t miss any spots. Avoid the temptation to just start painting your jacket all willy-nilly. Go one sleeve at a time, then one front panel at a time, and when you’re content you’ve got the whole front of the jacket coated, stand down for five minutes, refresh your drink, and then start on the back.
You want to do more than just lather the jacket; you need to really rub it in. Pay special attention to seams, and creases, and high friction places. If you wear a backpack, or throw a bag over your shoulder frequently when wearing your jacket the shoulder areas are likely in need of a heavy coating.
Don’t worry too much about getting the wax in the buttons or zippers, it will rub off with everyday wear.
Finally hang the jacket up, not only to let it breathe, but also so you can give it a final 360 degree inspection. The wax should still be relatively soft, especially if you’re in a warm apartment, so you can move around any clumps, or touch-up any spots you missed. If you are looking for a factory quality finish take a blow dryer to the jacket, this will ensure an even and smooth looking sheen to the jacket, and will break up any wax stuck in seems or grooves.
First couple wears will be waxy, so be sure to take it out for a spin when you wont be sitting down on fabric covered seats. Enjoy.