Advanced Member
Let me start with an apology for annoying everyone with my Barbour questions. And yes, I've read all the forum posts about the Sylkoil vs. waxed cotton finishes on Barbour jackets.

But I couldn't find information about the care of Sylkoil jackets. Do these still get waxed? It would seem not, because all Barbour sells is the thornproof dressing which goes on the waxed cotton jackets. Is this correct?

From what I've read, most prefer the waxed cotton finish, even though the Sylkoil finish is the more 'traditional' one, hence it appearing on the "Classic Beaufort", "Classic Bedale", etc. People seem concerned with the "nap" on the Sylkoil finish, that it wears differently, shows stains, and has a different patina. Although no one seems to mention it, I assume that the Sylkoil finish has an entirely different smell as well.

Perhaps I'm just too careful, but I want to know everything about the jacket I am going to purchase and have around for a decade or more.

So, again, do you wax the Sylkoil jackets?

Are there any disadvantages to the Sylkoil finish besides entirely subjective issues of taste?

ASK ANDY UPDATE: In addition to all the helpful information below, be sure to check out our Barbour Sylkoil vs Waxed Cotton (Thornproof). Which is Better? article!
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Advanced Member

The Rambler

Honors Member
Spent a few minutes on that enjoyable, if slightly maddening site: along w/Tweedys link, the 'people who bought sylkoil jackets also bought...' graphic includes a tin of the standard wax dressing. Can one reasonably infer that the wax dressing is used on the silkoil, or only that the people who ordered it didn't know the answer either?

Be that as it may, I've never owned or maybe even seen the sylkoil, so of course dont know: but if you wax either model, be sure to follow their advice and hit it with a hairdryer.

Doctor Damage

Pentheos said:
From what I've read, most prefer the waxed cotton finish, even though the Sylkoil finish is the more 'traditional' one, hence it appearing on the "Classic Beaufort", "Classic Bedale", etc.
Says who? The Barbour marketing department? The Sylkoil thing is a recent addition that mysteriously coincides with Barbour's big push to become a major international fashion brand, and also mysteriously the Sylkoil thing is priced higher than the waxed cotton jackets.

It is worth remembering that the Sylkoil thing was not available for at least 25 years, probably longer. Until about a decade ago, the only finish Barbour offered for a looooong time was the waxed cotton.

The Sylkoil thing might be a resurrection of an old 'classic' finish, or it might just be marketing bullcrap.
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Senior Member
I have both types of Barbour jackets - the smooth wax finish and the sylkoil finish. You use the same thornproof wax to re-proof both styles and, yes, I have done this.

The sylkoil finish uses fabric that has a slightly napped appearance/feel. When you re-wax it, it might temprorarily "smooth" down some of the fibers and give it a slight sheen, but with a bit of wear that goes away and the matte sylkoil appearance comes back.

Oh, and to answer your other questions - no I don't notice any difference in odor. I do think the sylkoil finish may be more likely to retain dirt because of its nappy texture. All in all, I prefer the traditional finish and find it more utilitarian. I have four Barbours: two of them are sylkoil finish and two are traditional finish.

For me the bigger issue is the modern tartan linings on Barbours which I dislike very much. If I found an old stock sylkoil jacket with the old pseudo-Dress Gordon lining, I would take it every time over a tradtional smooth finish jacket with the modern tartan lining.
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I say Barbour should bring out an exact copy of the original Solway Zipper.

My uncle had one of the very first Solway Zippers and while it looked the same as my 1982 version it did have some differences:
  • the shoulder seams were double stitched
  • the bellows pockets front sections were also double stitched
  • there was a full length seam down the back of the jacket
  • internal cuffs were waxed cotton not nylon
  • it had an additional small throat tab underneath the main throat tab
  • the front storm flap had seven press studs in a pale green plastic finish
I am sure there are a lot of people out there that would jump at the chance to own an original spec Solway Zipper.
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Advanced Member
I had two Beaufort one wax and one sylkoil sent off to Barbour in New Hampshire about two years ago. Turn around time was good and I had a difficult time but finally determined that they used wax on both jackets.

Both came back with cloth hang bags and instructions to let them hang for a while as the wax dried. I feel pretty certain that all they use is wax.
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never behind

Senior Member
Well, I bought a classic Bedale because I liked the olive color better than the colors of the regular Bedales. Honestly I wasn’t aware there was a big difference. From what I remember reading prior to buying, the jackets are all reproofed the same.

It’s the only Barbour I have, and I really like it. But I maybe just don’t know what I’m missing.

Old Road Dog

Active Member with Corp. Privileges
I had a Barbour waxed cotton jacket that more or less dry-rotted after I reproofed it. It was stored in a cedar closet off-season and one year the back panel just gave way with two ninety-degree tears as I put the jacket on. So much for "thornproof".
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