Walk down any street in a Spanish city and you’re likely to find a man wearing the original shirt jacket, called a Teba. These are ventless, unstructured, four-button coats of jersey knit, with three patch pockets and square, or “closed," front quarters that fall at or just below the hip, as a cardigan might, if one could find a cardigan that wasn’t disproportionately long in the body. The Teba’s sleeves resemble those of a shirt, as there is a placket and a single working button on the cuff. Spaniards wear them as one does a pub jacket, which is to say to the market, during a post-siesta stroll, or while having a bit of merienda at the café with friends.
Half a century ago, one wasn’t likely to see a Teba in the city. According to Carmen Olave, proprietor of Burgos, the Spanish shirtmaker known for its meticulous hand sewing and royal clientele, the Teba was a shooting jacket, evidence of which is apparent in the jacket’s most common color, hunter green. The jacket also gets its name from a famous marksman, the Count of Teba, who was introduced to an early version by King Alonzo XII during a quail hunt. The Count became so enamored of the ease with which the jacket allowed him to shoot that he had it reproduced by his tailor after it wore out. The Spanish men of the time, not unlike their English and American counterparts, took note of the wardrobes of the aristocracy, and it wasn’t long before the Teba was city garb.
Burgos has been selling Tebas in their Madrid shop for nearly fifty years. On their racks, they have Tebas in navy, hunter green, camel, and a royal blue the Spanish call Azulon. But one can choose from among thirty swatches in wool, a wool and cashmere blend, linen, a linen and cotton blend, and Harris tweed. Burgos even lets their customers choose some features with their ready-to-wear Tebas, including open patch pockets, double or single vents, lapel notches, or lining along the jacket’s back, none of which are standard for a Teba. There is no doubt, though, that ready-to-wear Tebas can be a bit boxy - the lack of infrastructure, the sweater-like length, the closed quarters, all contribute to a squared look. So for the man who wants an improved fit, Burgos offers their Tebas made-to-measure. They come with an increase in price, of course, but more shape through the arms and chest. Like the ready-to-wear version, these Tebas are cut and basted by hand, then sewn by machine in a small workshop in Zaragoza, just a few hours from Madrid. Orders take fifteen to twenty days, and Burgos will ship anywhere. Jersey Tebas are priced at 285€ (approx. $397), cashmere blends at 315€ (approx. $438). Those same jackets made-to-measure are 360€ (approx. $500) and 400€ (approx. $557) respectively.
English speakers should drop by in the morning and ask for Ms. Olave. Or, email her at email@example.com.
Text and photo: A. Eleftherion