Introduction

I saw another chap walking around in shorts and flip flops the other day, and I was so irrationally angry that it ruined my entire day. Unless you are charging around on a rugby pitch, shorts just aren’t acceptable at this time of year and the footwear of Beelzebub himself is just taking the proverbial. This is especially foolish if they happen to be with their SENSIBLE friends, who have very sensibly, worn sensible shoes, a sensible coat and a sensible scarf. The cold is here people; embrace it.

It’s interesting to see how the way men dress changes as it gets colder, particularly with regards to coats and jackets. We seem to be a gender of opposites – for example, I know people that won’t wear anything thicker than a denim jacket during the winter and I know other people that will drag out their winter coat as soon as the wind starts picking up. Whether this is simply down to how they cope with the shifts in temperature or just pure bloody mindedness is anyone’s guess, but it does create a strange dynamic.

As the above story has identified, we don’t all dress the same (and some of us just need a bloody good talking to). Personally, and I’m sure this is true for many of you, my winter coat is a crucial part of almost every outfit I wear during these chilly months, so it seems odd that such an important part of a man’s wardrobe can be so oft neglected.

Perhaps it’s because they don’t like any of the coats on offer, or maybe they have been put off by the sudden shifting of trends – how many quilted jackets have you seen this year? I’ve seen a lot less of them and a lot more parkas. But they could equally be of the opinion that a winter coat is just plain unnecessary.

The Overcoat

However, for all of us sane people, our winter coat takes some serious consideration. It is by no means a quick and simple choice, and we have many things to consider when we are looking for the perfect one: Colour, shape, length, style, material, our style at large, the list could go on.

I took a look at my personal choice of winter coat a few weeks ago, but as fantastic as the peacoat is (especially mine), it isn’t for everyone. The overcoat, on the other hand, could be just the one for you; particularly those of you with a more smart than casual mindset.

As with so many of our other favourite items, the overcoat is an outer layer steeped in history. An overcoat of some description has been made by someone, somewhere, since 1772. Beloved of the aristocracy (both here and abroad), it also assisted in many a war effort and from the 1950s onwards, affectionately know as a Crombie, became a solid feature in Teddy Boy, Mod and Skinhead subcultures.

But that’s enough of the history lesson. The overcoat is a serious contender for your wardrobe which offers warmth, sharp lines and style by the bucket load. But how might you wear one?

How To Wear: The Overcoat
Men’s Overcoat Lookbook

Men's Overcoat Lookbook

Look 1

Of course, most of us will associate the overcoat with work wear – men working in the city, pounding the pavements and losing all of our money. This is where you will find the overcoat most at home, particularly if you have opted for a coat that has a very formal cut and refined features.

If you choose to go down this route then you won’t ever go wrong with a black, navy or grey coat. All of these will be completely interchangeable with your existing work wardrobe and yet still easy enough to dress down at the weekend.

You could of course say to hell with conformity and opt for something completely different. Whilst you might think this coat from Reiss is a bit restrictive in colour, think again. It will work perfectly well with black, grey and navy suits, you just need to take quite a big colour leap and wear it with confidence.

If you wanted to go for a more country gent look, try finding a coat in green tweed or maybe even a burgundy.

  • Reiss Greatstone Tailored Overcoat RoseReiss Greatstone Tailored Overcoat Rose
  • Dunhill Slim-fit Wool-twill SuitDunhill Slim-fit Wool-twill Suit
  • Paul Smith Accessories Prince Of Wales Check Alex Folio BagPaul Smith Accessories Prince Of Wales Check Alex Folio Bag
  • Churchs Sheldon Leather Oxford ShoesChurchs Sheldon Leather Oxford Shoes
Look 2

When looking for the perfect overcoat, you must always bear in mind their inherent design features. They are (as is any coat) designed to fit over either a suit or numerous under layers, which will make the coat slightly boxier than you might envisage (and probably bigger on the shoulders) – it’s definitely worth trying them on with the clothes you’ll most often be wearing under it. It shouldn’t be overly slim fitting.

With the overcoat being an inherently smart item, the easiest way to wear it casually is to err on the side of smart/casual dressing – think good leather shoes, smarter chinos and a shirt.

You can of course chuck on a cardigan and mix in some interesting accessories to add that bit of individuality. I saw a chap wearing driving gloves the other day and it looked pretty cool, so when you simply want to take the edge off a chill, they might be worth a look.

As per usual, this is a look that can be completely interchangeable with regards to colour and textures, so try switching in some wool trousers or a gingham check shirt. Play around with your coat and see what works best.

  • Topman White Smart Long Sleeve Smart ShirtTopman White Smart Long Sleeve Smart Shirt
  • Hartford Camel Wool Cashmere Claudio OvercoatHartford Camel Wool Cashmere Claudio Overcoat
  • Mens Ultimate Slim Fit Chino In NavyMens Ultimate Slim Fit Chino In Navy
  • Dunhill Perforated Leather Driving GlovesDunhill Perforated Leather Driving Gloves
Look 3

I’m going to go slightly against what I said in the last look, but bear with me. Overcoats can be worn in a casual way, you just need to find the right one. In this instance, something single breasted and in grey will probably be the easiest to wear.

Once again, there isn’t really any need to overdress something like this, simplicity will give you consistent results every time, so stick with what you know. A check shirt, slim jeans and boots will always be a winning combination but you could equally go for something a little smarter like a fine knit roll neck (still with jeans) or a plain polo. You could also pull out your coloured chinos but I would stop short of cords, they are a little too far the other way.

Always have your capsule wardrobe in mind – being able to swap each part of an outfit for a variety of other items in your wardrobe will make your life easier and much more stylish.

  • Allsaints Oakland ShirtAllsaints Oakland Shirt
  • Reiss Casablanca Half Belted Coat GreyReiss Casablanca Half Belted Coat Grey
  • Diesel Jeans Shioner Slim 661dDiesel Jeans Shioner Slim 661d
  • H By Hudson Brown Dip Dyed Leather Smyth BootsH By Hudson Brown Dip Dyed Leather Smyth Boots
Men’s Overcoat Recommendations
  • Selected Wool CoatSelected Wool Coat
  • Allsaints Hampstead CoatAllsaints Hampstead Coat
  • Burton Formal Brown Check OvercoatBurton Formal Brown Check Overcoat
  • Allsaints Richmond CoatAllsaints Richmond Coat
  • Ps Paul Smith Charcoal Tweed Epsom CoatPs Paul Smith Charcoal Tweed Epsom Coat
  • Customellow Khaki Tweed Fur Collar CoatCustomellow Khaki Tweed Fur Collar Coat
  • Reiss Knowling Classic Single Breasted Overcoat BlueReiss Knowling Classic Single Breasted Overcoat Blue
  • Burberry Brit Navy Textured Wool Over CoatBurberry Brit Navy Textured Wool Over Coat
  • Austin Reed Charcoal Herringbone CoatAustin Reed Charcoal Herringbone Coat
  • Uniqlo Men Chesterfield CoatUniqlo Men Chesterfield Coat
  • He By Mango Wool CoatHe By Mango Wool Coat
  • Reiss Bernard Double Breasted Long Wool Coat NavyReiss Bernard Double Breasted Long Wool Coat Navy
  • Wolsey Orston Double Breasted OvercoatWolsey Orston Double Breasted Overcoat
  • A.p.c. Mens Harris Tweed OvercoatA.p.c. Mens Harris Tweed Overcoat
  • Hentsch Man Wool-blend Tweed OvercoatHentsch Man Wool-blend Tweed Overcoat
Final Word

If you aren’t a fan of any of the other styles of coats currently on the market, then the overcoat is well worth a look. Its clean lines and classic shape, either single or double breasted, will make it last for many seasons to come. Choose carefully and you will have a hugely versatile coat, suitable for both work and the weekend.

But now I want your views, so let me know what you think of the overcoat in the comments section below.

Will