Out of the window of my study I can see two things – grey clouds and sheets of rain. I can also hear the faint sound of the wind whistling through the latch. These things indicate one thing to me; it’s time for an article on coats!
Let’s face it, sometimes guys really do drop the ball in this particular area of menswear. When the weather starts to take a turn for the worse it seems that we fall into two categories: The first decide that it’s time to bring back the old ‘put a hoody under anything’ look – be it a leather, denim or suit jacket. The others pull out a coat that, regardless of the money spent, looks like a hand me down from their grandfather – with the cuffs falling well pass their fingertips.
This is not what a stylish man should aspire for. When there’s a chill in the air, your coat is the first thing anyone is going to see (aside from your shoes) when they meet you. Consider it your sartorial handshake. So with that in mind, there are a few things you need to bear in mind when buying a coat.
The first is to grow up and get yourself a MAN coat. I’m talking about mature choices like topcoats, peacoats and duffle’s. Not only do they have a more versatile and classic style than going for some weird asymmetrical trench/waxed cotton bin bag, but if you decide to buy quality and get something in 80-100% wool, it will last you for a good four or five years and therefore stay relevant whilst your wardrobe evolves and changes.
The second thing to do is to decide what you will be using this coat for. If you need it for work then remember it will be layered over a suit jacket, so make sure you wear or bring the jacket with you when you go shopping. Nothing is more frustrating when you go to put your coat on for the first day of work and the cut is too slim to fit over your shoulders. In these cases you may need to go up a size to accommodate your suit or shop around for a cut that is designed specifically for it.
If you’re going to wear a coat more casually like with a shirt and cardigan, then you can afford to go with a slimmer silhouette that hugs your frame. As a general rule, I would say that topcoats are a wise choice for formal or work situations while peacoats and duffel’s are better suited for casual looks. This is because a topcoat will usually end a few inches above the knee, covering the suit jacket you’re wearing, while the others are usually cropped higher and will leave you with your blazer poking out the bottom. Not a desired look. With any coat you purchase you should be looking for something that is cut with high armholes and follows the lines of your body – it means you will have snug coat that doesn’t limit your movements.
Finally, you should then decide on what colour you want the coat to be. I would suggest, if this is going to be your one and only coat, to invest in monochromatic colours such as black, grey and navy because they will go with everything else in your wardrobe. It is normally said that darker shades such as charcoal grey, navy and black are more office appropriate but I tend to think of these as more guidelines than rules. The overcoat I own is in camel and looks perfect next to a black or navy pinstripe suit for formal occasions. Similarly, my deep navy peacoat is only ever worn casually with chinos, t-shirts and scarves and never looks too formal or dressy. It’s about finding what you’re comfortable with and then wearing the hell out of it.
If you already have a collection of well fitting coats, then it may be time to think about investing in a new one in an interesting colour. Check out some of the articles on the site that tell you how to wear a colourful piece of outerwear and then go for it!
Here are some of top picks for a coat this autumn/winter:
As for what you can wear them with? Whatever you want! Style is always what you make of it. Even though my overcoat is reserved for more formal affairs, there are still times I pair it with some simple jeans and a roll-neck jumper, and it works just as well. Play around, have some fun and then make it your own.
Until next time,
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