They say you should invest in those things you’ll get the most wear out of. The best shirts you can afford. The plain, navy blazer that goes with everything. Consider the cost-per-wear ratio, you’re told. Don’t part with any cash unless you can picture six outfits any new piece works in. And your coat, your biggest purchase of any season, should be sober enough to work with your entire wardrobe.
Seems Gucci’s Alessandro Michele hasn’t been listening. Nor has Haider Ackermann. Or Riccardo Tisci. Or J.W. Anderson. Or, frankly, any designer that matters. This season, outerwear took off its glasses, shook out its hair and went wild. There were fur trims. There were mother-wouldn’t-approve patterns. There was enough embroidery to make your bank manager choke.
Sensible? Of course not. But beneath the crazy, there was oodles of that quality fashion so often ignores: fun. Which is why this season, you should bend everything else to work with your coat.
On The Runway
Where SS16’s sukajan (AKA souvenir jacket) led, the statement coat has followed. Perhaps it’s because our modern climate negates the need for weatherproofing. Perhaps it’s because Instagram likes are fashion’s new currency. But AW16’s outerwear forwent the practical and begged to be noticed.
At Dries Van Noten, coats came in paisley prints with detachable fur collars and military brocade. Joe and Charlie Casely-Hayford daubed their overcoats in magic eye patterns, while patchwork bombers dragged across the floor (not the most practical move for puddles, admittedly). And at Louis Vuitton, Kim Jones even took the goes-with-everything trench and made it a talking point, with blue-on-white marbling and fur belts.
“It’s a trend you have to take control of,” says Lucas Steuperaert, from Vestiaire Collective’s menswear curation team. Jones accessorised his with logoed-up bags, of course, but the most important pair to a statement coat is confidence. When you wear an almost comically oversized puffa jacket, like those seen at Raf Simons, people will stare. They’ll take photos. And the less you seem to notice, the more positive the hashtags will be.
Less Is More Is More
The runway made its statements through a bullhorn but, unless your commute features a photographer pit, your take on the trend can be quieter. Outerwear is normally so understated that it takes only small tweaks to turn subtle into something more noticeable.
“Designers like Raf Simons, Maison Margiela and Prada went statement with extended sleeves and oversized shapes,” says Steuperaert. But they grounded these bold silhouette with muted shades; make too many statements at once and no one will know what you’re trying to say.
The opposite is true if you decide to brighten up. Yes, you can wear bright shades, coruscating patterns, or opt for the kind of embroidery Gucci has turned into an artform. But nail your fit first.
Similarly, if brocade is too much, then look to this season’s biggest pattern trend: checks. On something as big as an overcoat, even Topman Design’s tonal take makes noise. But they’re an easier wear than Astrid Andersen’s metallics.
Dial Everything Else Down
A statement coat only works if the rest of your look keeps quiet. “Bold design features, print, pattern or colour do mean that you need to think about the rest of your outfit before throwing it on,” says Giles Farnham, head of River Island style studio. “Whatever your jacket screams, pare it back in the rest of your look.”
Bed in pop colours with greys, blacks and whites, or ground pastels with earthy neutrals like stone and beige. “If you’re sporting a large check, the same goes – team with either a smaller check or plainer fabrics. Avoid clashing with other patterns like polka dot – there are exceptions to every rule but generally this will really jar.”
With tones pared back, mix fabrics instead. “The key is to pick one statement piece then mix it with classic textures,” says Steuperaert. Contrast silky bombers with cashmere, or layer a black denim jacket beneath a woollen overcoat. It gives your look depth and means the statement gels with the subtle, instead of looking like an afterthought.
Key Style: Overcoat
More fabric amplifies your statement, so with big coats, exercise restraint. A bright block colour is loud enough – no one goes unnoticed in that much rust orange – or stick to details, like Kolor’s grey-on-grey leopard print hem.
If you tweak shape instead, size up. This season’s silhouettes are voluminous, the better to accommodate layers. “We’re also seeing some robe styles, which is refreshing,” says Farnham. “It’s a more relaxed alternative to sharper silhouettes.” Just make sure those layers beneath fit slim.
- Asos Wool Mix Overcoat In Rust
- Asos Wool Mix Overcoat With Drop Shoulder In Army Green
- Asos Wool Mix Overcoat In Rose
- Asos Drop Shoulder Check Overcoat
- Asos Checked Overcoat With Belt In Black And White
- Zara Double-Faced Coat
- DRIES VAN NOTEN Rennie Slim-Fit Double-Breasted Appliquéd Wool-Blend Coat
- Etro Velvet And Calf Hair-trimmed Plaid Wool-blend Coat
- Casely-hayford Wentworth Checked Wool Overcoat
Key Style: Bomber
As your hem creeps up, push the boat further out. This season the bomber transitioned from trend to staple, appearing in almost every collection, from Casely-Hayford’s floor sweepers to boxy, drop-shoulder spins at Vetements. As with overcoats, if you’re playing with shape, dial down your decoration. If you lean into pattern, do it in a slim fit.
Building on SS16’s souvenir jackets, this season bombers got blingy, whether it’s ASOS’ floral embroidery, Blood Brother’s collage graphics, or embellishments like River Island’s faux fur trim. Just resist the urge toward Rick Ross in the rest of your look.
- New Look Bomber Jacket In Camo Print
- Black Dust Suede Bomber Jacket
- Sixth June Suedette Bomber Jacket
- Zara QUILTED BOMBER JACKET
- River Island Navy Schott Badge Ma1 Bomber Jacket
- River Island Black Embroidered Satin Bomber Jacket
- Topman Black And White Paint Stroke Bomber Jacket
- KAPITAL Slim-Fit Reversible Striped Cotton-Blend And Velvet Souvenir Jacket
- A.p.c. Slim-fit Paisley-print Cotton Bomber Jacket
Key Style: Trench/Mac
The trench is one of menswear’s more versatile pieces. It dresses up with tailoring. It dresses down with denim. Which is perhaps why, as far as statements go, you’re best avoiding anything too shouty.
- Allsaints Mies Mac
- He By Mango Lightweight Cotton Trench
- ASOS Trench Coat with Parka Detail in Pink
- River Island Light Brown Ymc Waxed Longline Mac
- Aquascutum VOYAGER PACKAWAY TRENCH COAT
- Aquascutum CLAYE SINGLE BREASTED RAINCOAT
- Mackintosh Bonded Cotton Raincoat
- GUCCI Prince Of Wales Checked Wool And Cashmere-Blend Trench Coat
- Dries Van Noten Radley Grosgrain-trimmed Wool-blend Trench Coat
Key Style: Worker Jacket
This season saw a proliferation of workwear suitable for no such thing. But you can still tap the shape’s roots with the rest of your outfit.
The jacket might star eye-popping patches, à la Kitsuné, or dip-dyed denim and tags, as at Christopher Shannon, but the shapes still pair with jeans and heavy-duty boots. Just maybe not actually at work.
- Allsaints Storm Overshirt
- Allsaints Kuto Jacket
- Urban Renewal Vintage Customised Olive Swedish Work Jacket
- Zara Checked Jacket
- Topman Mustard British Millerain Waxed Cotton Jacket
- Kitsune Patched Worker Jacket
- Zara Denim JAcket
- Filson Cruiser Buffalo-checked Mackinaw Wool Jacket
- Bottega Veneta Slim-fit Checked Wool-blend Flannel Overshirt
Key Style: Parka/Duffle
Beloved of the mods, this season’s parkas and duffles are the kind to enrage rockers everywhere. There were patchwork takes at Christopher Shannon and shearling by Sacai and Gosha Rubchinskiy, who doubled down on statement-making in marigold yellow (you can get away with that kind of thing when you’re the most hyped name in menswear).
But even when the materials are luxe, the utilitarian DNA remains. Which means you can ground even the boldest patterns and shades with khaki cargo pants or dark jeans. Because the one upshot of that sensible wardrobe you’ve been curating is that there’s nothing in it to clash with your new, bonkers buy.
Turns out, you can wear it with everything after all. How sensible is that?