With the book now very much shut on summer and autumn the new focus, outerwear once again comes to the fore in both our minds and wardrobes. Gone are the days of single layer shorts and t-shirt combinations; for the next few months, layers become integral to our ensembles. Chief among them: your choice of winter coat.

Menswear is rather fortunate as despite our seemingly limited options elsewhere, outerwear is one place we really don’t fall short. With such a wide range of styles available, today we look at two that have held a perennial presence but are really set to shine this season: the dapper double-breasted overcoat and the durable duffle.

The Double-Breasted Overcoat

Double-breasted coats are, of course, nothing particularly new. Traditional styles like the Chesterfield favour this broad silhouette and the piece has long been a favourite for those wanting to protect their tailoring from the elements during the colder months.

Although the overcoat’s versatility is often questioned, the style can be seamlessly integrated within casual ensembles just as easily as it can be paired with more obvious formal wear.

So, although your double-breasted topcoat provides the perfect protection for your suit during the morning commute, ensuring you arrive at work looking pristine, there’s no reason why it can’t be working overtime come the weekends for some off-duty style elevation:

m&s best of british aw13 river island aw13 zara man september 2012 zara man august/september 2013 ami aw12 sisley aw13 drykorn aw13 reiss aw13 ami aw13 strellson aw13 reiss aw13 Boglioli aw12

Key Styles/Considerations

If you prioritise versatility, opt for a timeless version in navy or grey. These two colours will coordinate beautifully with all your existing tailoring – from classic charcoal/navy suits to more unconventional burgundy/khaki colour ways – and will also pair effortlessly with bold coloured chinos or slim-cut denim in a casual context.

Alternatively, if you are looking for something more contemporary and designed to get you noticed, why not try a camel or khaki green version? Camel oozes luxury and is set to become a huge colour trend for men this AW13, whilst khaki green is arguably as versatile as navy/grey, fits in perfectly with seasonal heritage, military or outdoors-inspired looks and offers a subtle differential that will help you stand out from the crowd (see the superb River Island version in the lookbook above).

In terms of cut, double-breasted is best suited to specific body types – namely tall men and those with a muscular (inverted triangle) frame.

Short men should try to avoid double-breasted at all costs and would be better off opting for a slimline single-breasted overcoat instead. Length – whatever your body type – should ideally finish a couple of inches above the knee in order to ensure you keep as much of your suit/clothing protected as possible, without making your legs appear shorter than they are.

Outfit Inspiration

Layer a classic navy overcoat over a cable knit jumper and chambray shirt for a more casual take on this timeless piece of outerwear. The cable knit is a style that is also currently having a menswear moment, yet it retains an ageless appeal that belies its trending status.

Reinforce the dressed down feel of the ensemble with some selvedge indigo denim and a pair of hiking boots for a rugged yet refined look that is in keeping with current menswear movements, yet would still look just as on point in a few years time:

  • Allsaints Gamble Shirt
  • Asos Cable Jumper
  • Mp Di Massimo Piombo Baby Alpaca-blend Coat
  • Marc By Marc Jacobs Waxed Slim-fit Jeans 166951
  • Sandqvist Hans Canvas Backpack In Navy
  • Car Shoe Leather Hiking Boots
Current Styles
  • Topman Off White Fur Collar Long Coat
  • Peter Werth Long Reefer
  • Allsaints Alberta Coat
  • Paul Costelloe Flannel Overcoat Grey
  • Jigsaw Melton Wool Overcoat
  • Peter Werth Penn Long Length Reefer Coat
  • Jigsaw Camel Wool Overcoat
  • Burberry London Slim-fit Wool And Cashmere-blend Coatong Coat
  • Wooyoungmi Double-breasted Herringbone Wool Overcoat
The Duffle Coat

The second outerwear style we have chosen to focus on today is one that has long been a cornerstone of menswear. The duffle, like many of our wardrobe staples, derives its heritage from the military (the British Royal Navy, to be precise), yet it has gone on to become a firm favourite of fashion-conscious civvies.

A piece based on nothing but sheer practicality, the traditional toggle fastening, roomy cut and oversized hood ensure the duffle can handle ANYTHING Mother Nature throws at it.

In contrast to the double-breasted overcoat, the duffle is widely regarded as a casual style. Its regimented roots support this viewpoint, and it’s almost lack of refinement cements it. This is a coat that was designed specifically to cope with the elements, and we doubt a refined cut was at the top of the priorities list.

However, these associations belittle just how valuable a tool the duffle coat can be in a modern man’s styling arsenal. The lookbook emphasises just how versatile the piece is, showcasing a variety of contemporary ways to style the duffle, outside of the assumed norm:

lbm 1911 aw13 river island aw13 angelo nardelli aw12 asos aw13 drykorn aw13 Judge & Jury ss13 burton aw12 club monaco aw12 burton aw12 zara man closed denim aw11 closed denim aw11

For more information on this classic piece of outerwear, check out our article on the history of the Gloverall Duffle Coat.

Key Styles/Considerations

The type of duffle you choose to add to your wardrobe will come down to personal taste and how you intend to use it. Whilst the double-breasted overcoat typically comes in a standard cut that finishes around knee level, modern duffles are now available in cropped, mid-length and longer lengths.

In our view, a cropped style offers the most versatility, because it can be treated similar to your pea coat and allows you to integrate it within the majority of your cold weather looks. They are also perfect for showing off a statement coloured pair of chinos/trousers, which are trending for AW13.

Alternatively, if you already own a solid collection of cropped jackets, a longer length duffle CAN be paired with your suiting and would make for the ultimate protection from the elements on the commute to work.

Simply opt for a timeless shade and a slimline cut that helps retain the clean lines and sharp silhouette required for pairing with formal wear. If all else fails, try sizing down – duffles are notoriously cut quite large and you would be surprised at how much room you are gifted.

However, the stand out style for AW13 has to be the burgundy duffle. With a distinct lack of bold colours on the market this year, in comparison to AW12, burgundy allows you to make a statement in an altogether more refined way and is still extremely versatile – contrasting against a grey suit as well as it complements indigo denim.

Other subtle design touches to look out for this year include leather detailing, which adds a nice luxe touch to any style, along with the use of technical fabrics.

Outfit Inspiration

Much like in our double-breasted overcoat outfit, take the duffle out of its natural habitat and force some sartorial evolution upon it. Remove the casual safety net and pair your duffle with some slim-cut suiting in a seasonally appropriate fabric.

Tweed is an autumn/winter essential and makes a great foil for the rugged duffle. This on trend burgundy version differs slightly from traditional tones of navy and camel, instantly setting you apart from the rest of the rat race.

A solid pair of brogue boots keeps you sure-footed and reinforces the heritage theme laid out by the tweed tailoring and duffle, helping create a look that contains the key components of quintessential British style:

  • Farah Vintage Suit In Tweed
  • Uniqlo Men Wool Blended Duffle Coat
  • Reiss Marx Brogue Boots Ox Blood
Current Styles
  • Asos Duffle Coat In Charcoal
  • Asos Duffle Coat In Black
  • F&f Duffle Coat With Wool
  • Gloverall Mid Monty Duffel Coat
  • Joe Casely-Hayford for John Lewis Gloverall Hooded Duffel Coa
  • Uniqlo MEN Wool Blended Duffle Coat
  • Topman Navy Wool Duffle Coat
  • River Island Light Brown Casual Duffle Jacket
  • Uniqlo Men Wool Blended Duffle Coat
  • River Island Navy Wool Smart Duffle Coat
  • Gloverall Monty Wool Duffel Coat
  • Burberry London Leather-trimmed Wool Duffle Coat
Final Word

Outerwear often represents a major investment piece for many of us, and choosing something with longer lasting appeal makes the investment that bit wiser.

Both the double-breasted overcoat and duffle represent timeless style at both ends of the menswear spectrum and, despite their undoubted popularity, hold potential for fresh ideas and takes, especially when taking them out of their comfort zone.

But now we want to hear your view:

  • Do you own either of these styles already?
  • Is the double-breasted overcoat able to transition from formal wear to casual attire?
  • Will the duffle ever shake off the shackles of Paddington Bear?
  • And can it ever work successfully with tailoring?

Let us know your thoughts in the comments section below…