Right, it’s definitely overcoat weather now. It’s dropped below 10 degrees in London during the day and a scarf and hat just won’t cut it.

Of course, this is entirely the wrong time of the year to start thinking about a bespoke coat. Seasons should be reversed for most bespoke tailors – most can make a suit in less than six months so you should ordering winter clothes at the beginning of summer, and vice versa. (Unless you are in a different country from your tailor and have to wait for visits, in which case a year seems to be the best you can hope for. At least then the order feels appropriate to the temperature outside.)

However, I am aware that many readers do not buy bespoke suits yet and most probably wouldn’t buy a bespoke overcoat. So that means it’s time to hit the high street and get more immediate gratification.

While navy is the most versatile colour for an overcoat, a mid-grey is just as proper with demonstrating a touch of personality. Get something with a little surface interest, like a herringbone or a heavier weave – Donegal tweeds also work very well.

I didn’t follow my own advice with my first bespoke overcoat – a camel-hair polo coat made last winter – but then I did already have a decent navy coat sitting in the wardrobe.

The coat pictured here, like the camel polo, is being made by Graham Browne. As I’ve said many times before, there’s no better value I know of for bespoke in London – proper cutting and a slightly more economic make for just £850 a suit. They can also turn something around in less than six weeks, so it’s not quite too late to get an overcoat made. January and February are the coldest months anyway.

I almost resisted adding any bells and whistles to this commission. At the last minute I added reverse pleats in the side seams, which will give the coat a little flare in the skirt. It was the first time Russell had added them to an overcoat, but he did a sterling job. You can tell Russell is up for a new idea, just look at the Rommell overcoat pictured here: an exact replica, just in pink.

My herringbone coat is cut two inches shorter than the polo, will be half lined and is in a slightly lighter cloth (Bateman & Ogden coatings, number C59, 600g), so will hopefully serve as an intermediate coat between that and the navy – which, being ready-to-wear, is little better than a topcoat.

Go buy an overcoat. Nothing else makes a man feel more complete. 

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Anonymous

Hi Simon,

May I know what the difference is between an overcoat and a topcoat?

Hilton

Would you be so kind as to settle this matter for me once and for all: regarding the length of a chesterfield coat, should it be below the knee or not?

Thank you.

Steve

Dear Simon,

Seeing you opted for a double breasted overcoat, I was wondering if there are some “written or unwritten” rules of which type of overcoat to pair with your suit? Single breasted suits with SB overcoats and double breasted suits with DB overcoats? Looking forward to your feedback.

Steve

PS: Love the blog! It’s one of my favorite daily reads.

Anonymous

The pleats you speak of are called vents

S

Simon,

Great post. One question: I have one mid-grey and one navy overcoat (or more likely topcoat), but no black coat. What should I be wearing with my dinner suit. Is a grey coat over a DJ OK? Since I never wear black overcoats (prefer navy) I was hoping to avoid having a black coat just for my formalwear. What do you think, and what do you wear over your formal wear?

Thanks
S

Anonymous

“A topcoat is shorter and lighter in weight than an overcoat. It is intended as a stopgap before overcoat whether truly kicks in. But economics, tastes and knowledge being what they are today, most retailers only sell topcoats in the UK. And men are cold.”
Absolutely spot-on!

Hal

But really lightweight wool topcoats (which used to be advertised as “spring and summer coats” have disappeared (I understand that they are still to be found in Italy), and a trench-coat or other raincoat has to do instead – but is usually less elegant and less stylish.

Hal

Some Italian coats are made of 14-15oz cloth.

Anonymous

Hi Simon,

Please advise me of the following.
I am planning to have my first bespoke overcoat made. I am thinking about the Bateman Ogden C74 Camel 90%wool/10% cashmere fabric.
I am living in the Netherlands, do you think this fabric weight is enough to keep me warm or should I look for heavier fabrics?
What do you think about the Casentino fabric, what weight are they?

Regards,
P

Hal

Your last sentence is spot-on – many feel more “complete” or “finished” out-of-doors in a coat than in a suit alone.

But why use the Americanism “go buy”?

Charlie

Dear Simon,

I’m looking to buy an overcoat, a third in my wardrobe, that is slightly more formal. I am looking to buy off the peg and have it altered, to save money from bespoke.
My favourite one that I’m seeing is, however, a wool-poly blend. It’s slightly more expensive, ironically, than the makers wool-cashmere blend coats.
I spoke with the store, and was told that the reason it cost more, was that the poly addition (10%) was there not for cost saving, but to strengthen the water repellency in snowy weather, and increase wrinkle resistence. The wool-blend is from Jules Tournier.

My question is, does this make sense to you? And should I buy this coat that I stylistically prefer (navy single breasted, point lapel, covered button placket), or a 100% wool, or wool-cashmere blend) from a lesser mill? (Stylistically the latter would be a velvet collar Chesterfield in navy).

Thanks!

CJ

Hi Simon,
Where would you recommend for getting a made-to-measure or bespoke overcoat?
My budget is limited <£1,500 ideally – is this too low?

Chris