Continuing our breakdown to the key items and trends you need in order to be prepared for the the forthcoming autumn/winter, we are taking an in depth look at another outerwear trend which started to make rumblings within men’s fashion last year – much like shearling. The duffle coat has rose back to prominence within menswear, such is our current obsession with the past and need to find alternative pieces that allow us to distance ourselves from the crowd.
The duffle coat is a fine piece that is draped in history and military influences. It was initially worn by Belgian fisherman but gained popularity with the general population after it was issued to the British Royal Navy during World War I and II – where they were used to protect against the extreme cold and wind of the Atlantic and North Sea. After the war, many of the duffle coats worn by the Navy were made available for purchase to civilians through army surplus stores, selling extremely well due to the link to the heroes that had protected and fought for our country.
The duffle coats initially created for the Navy were built for practicality; they were cut large so they could fit another waterproof or jacket underneath (for added warmth), had large hoods attached in order to fit over peaked Naval caps, and the coat was fastened by with toggles so they could be easily done up/undone whilst wearing thick gloves.
Of course, modern day duffle coats still retain that sought after practicality through their thick (often wool) construction – meaning you will stay warm and dry all the way through winter and into the spring showers. They are now cut a lot slimmer – such is the move toward a sharper silhouette – but they have retained the utilitarian feel with practical deep pockets and toggles which can still be done up and undone just as easily in gloves.
The duffle coats continuing resurgence was there for all to see on the autumn/winter 2011 runways. It was endorsed on the catwalks by the likes of Burberry, Bottega Veneta, Paul Smith, Acne and Balmain – quite a list of premium fashion houses.
Burberry have been featured multiple times in recent weeks on FashionBeans due to their sought after coloured outerwear, which stole the show at many of the fashion weeks around the globe. It’s not hard to see why, with the beautiful on trend orange and bold blue duffles coats featured below [top left & centre].
Paul Smith also produced his own version of the coloured coat with a vibrant yellow duffle [middle right], as well as creating his own take on the duffle coat with his trench-duffle hybrid [middle row left & centre] – the perfect fusion of practicality and sharp, clean lines.
The duffle coat offers versatility and practicality for the wearer. New styles are often slimmer cut but still retain bulk due to their thick construction and the fact that they are a true winter coat. With this in mind, you can easily use it as a finishing layer to all your current outfits and looks – there are no hard and fast rules as to how you should wear them, just let the duffle coat do its job and take you from A to B in complete warmth.
That being said, if you are looking for inspired trend looks or pieces you could pair with the duffle coat, then look no further than military influences. The jacket was iconic in the Royal Navy, meaning that Breton stripes, navy blazers and chinos are all perfect for hitting that nautical inspired style. With connections to fishermen, you can also look to dress it up with other similarly inspired pieces such as beanie hats, thick cable knit jumpers, and even thin fisherman jackets layered underneath – we rounded up the look earlier this year.
In terms of options and styles of duffle coats available this year, you are spoilt for choice. There are full length and cropped versions, so the choice depends on how you want to utilise your new outerwear. If you want a jacket that will keep you warm and dry on the commute to work, then a long length duffle coat will be perfect for layering over (and protecting) a suit. However, if you want versatility, a cropped version would be best. This allows you to utilise bold statement trousers or chinos on your bottom half (without them being covered up), whilst still keeping you dry up top.
As for colours, the duffle coat tends to look best in your timeless neutrals – think browns, navy, black, grey and even camel. This is due to the fact that it does have to deal with the (often harsh) elements, and darker neutrals will hide weather and environmental stains much better. Not only that, we all know by now that these colours will never go out of style, and will anchor or coordinate with nearly every other item you have in your wardrobe. A neutral coat is also a safe choice for those wishing to create a professional appearance, i.e. utilising it with work wear.
If you are feeling slightly more adventurous, then a bold coloured duffle coat could be for you. At the time of writing, not many of the high street brands had created these – meaning a bright orange, yellow or green duffle coat may be out of budget for most. Hopefully as the months progress, we will see a high street store create a similar version to the orange or cobalt Burberry duffle coats, allowing the brave to really put their own personal stamp on the darker seasons.
The pick of the styles this year for me though has to be a camel duffle. It is such a beautiful colour that will coordinate with everything in your wardrobe – whether that is a black suit for work, or indigo jeans at the weekend. Not only that, but it is a neutral colour which still makes a statement and oozes class. The camel wool overcoat is often seen on the back of many of the world’s stylish males, and now you can have an alternative, modern version that is perfect for those wanting a bit more versatility.
So what do you think? We would love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.
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