Michael Browne bespoke coat: Review

Wednesday, January 8th 2020
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Permanent Style prides itself on honest reviews of clothing. 

Please be reassured that this policy continues in this piece on Michael Browne. Despite the fact that there are basically no negative points.

There's just hardly anything bad to say (other than the price). 

I commissioned this navy coat from tailor Michael Browne earlier in the year.

I’ve known Michael for a long time, but he recently set up on his own, after being at Chittleborough & Morgan for several years. 

Michael founded his operation with the pure aim of making the best bespoke he thought possible. That included everything from putting all fittings together himself, to the finest buttonhole and pocket finishing. 

He also had a few design ideas in mind - including this piece, which he calls a ‘body coat’. Basically, an overcoat cut to fit over knitwear, rather than a jacket. 

It just really means that the fit is closer, and perhaps more striking. But it’s niche: only really useful for someone that already has normal overcoats; or never wears a tailored jacket. 

You can read more on Michael, his background and his workshop, in my first article on him here

You might also be interested to read about the suit he helped cut for me at Chittleborough & Morgan, at that link. 

This coat was good from the start. 

One of Michael’s policies is to make the first fitting as complete as he can: to nail the fit early and then refine design later on. 

So even though the coat took five fittings in total, the fundamentals like balance, pitch and shoulder line were near perfect from the beginning - and certainly at the second fitting. 

The remaining appointments were spent playing a little with the shoulder width, where I pushed to go a little wider, and the position of the waist button, where I tended towards it being lower. 

We were able to adjust small things, like moving the waist button a tiny bit closer to the front edge. 

This creates a little less overlap, and means that when worn, the fronts are more likely to hang slightly apart, which looks great. 

It was a tiny change, but over the whole length of the front, made a noticeable difference. 

This whole process was reassuring as a customer. 

I can imagine others finding it frustrating, if the coat looks that ready and yet takes another four fittings for completion. 

But for someone that enjoys the tailoring process, it felt great to have the fundamentals done, and then to discuss design and proportions gradually. The process could also be quicker for subsequent commissions. 

The final fit was not much of a surprise, but still extremely satisfying. 

Both sides of the front of the coat dropping perfectly and smoothly from the shoulders; a back broken only by the intended drape below the blades; and a perfect run from the sleeve up the shoulder and into the neck. 

The only possible point I could have picked was some folding across the top of the sleeve (often an issue with my sloping shoulders) but Michael said that would drop out as I wore the coat, and it 99% has. 

Of course, this is not a lightweight worsted - it’s a relatively heavy wool (actually 90% wool, 10% cashmere - 986021 from Holland & Sherry) and is therefore fairly easy to work with. But I’ve had similar things not sit as well. 

It’s worth spending a little time looking at the gorge, lapel and collar. Because in a simple piece like this, that conjunction is one of the few design elements. 

The lapel is fairly wide, but its impact is subtle because the collar is long too, making the notch small. 

The collar itself doesn’t look too wide because it is slightly scooped, curving up from the gorge into the neck. 

Overall, I think this design makes the lapel look strong, but not too showy. 

I can imagine someone expecting a coat like this to have a peak lapel - as lots of Michael’s suit jackets do. That would be dramatic too, but it would be showier, more obvious. I much prefer this wide lapel with a small notch. 

Hopefully you won’t have to be told how sharp the overall impression of this coat is. I think the images do it justice there. 

But one construction point that’s interesting is that the shoulders are only very lightly padded. Even the shoulder roping isn’t that great. And yet it still has that sharpness and impact. 

This light construction is particularly striking when you compare the coat to my suit from Chittleborough & Morgan, or even Edward Sexton

You would put those pieces in a similar bracket in terms of style, but they’re much more heavily padded, both in terms of thickness and the reach of the pads down into the upper back. 

The finishing on the coat is basically perfect. 

Super sharp, precise jets on the pockets; one of the most precise Milanese buttonholes I’ve ever seen; internal pockets that are part of the facing (of course) and then beautifully top stitched. 

The central pleat in the back stands a little open when you stand still, which might not be technically perfect. But it’s minimal and (I think) actually looks better that way. 

It certainly does its functional role very well: providing room when you move, but returning precisely to its starting point when you stop. 

As part of a wardrobe, the coat can be very smart and stylised, or more casual. 

I love the way it looks with a navy roll neck underneath - shown here, with sharp charcoal flannels and bespoke dark-brown oxfords. There’s no showy colour, pattern or details, yet it looks very smart and elegant.

But I’ve also worn it with a shirt and crewneck underneath, and it looks much more casual - still sharp, but not as formal as a suit, for example. 

And a scarf tied over the top relaxes either outfit - particularly something casual like the herringbone wool scarf I’m wearing below. 

In fact, somewhere in here I think there might be a definition of true elegance. Which is not about loud checks, short trousers or gimmicky gurkhas. But about simplicity and refinement. 

As Cary Grant put it in this interview with This Week magazine back in 1967: “Simplicity, for me, is the essence of good taste.”

Of course, the one inescapably negative thing about this Michael Browne coat is the cost. At £7500 (inc VAT) it is a vast amount of money for a piece of clothing. 

It is very hard to make a case for spending that on bespoke - but if anything could make it, it would be work of this quality from Michael Browne.

This is precisely the workmanship, taste and design you should expect. 

The coat is worn with:

  • A navy-cashmere roll neck from Drake’s
  • Trousers made by Whitcomb & Shaftesbury in 19oz Fox flannel (FS405/A2069/33)
  • A grey herringbone wool scarf from Drake’s
  • Bespoke oxford shoes from Masaru Okayama
  • A brown nubuck tote bag from Frank Clegg
  • Brown-suede newsboy cap from Lock & Co

Photography: Jamie Ferguson

MichaelBrowne.EU

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J T

I notice that you mention pushing for the shoulder width to go “a little bit wider” – any reason for that? It appears to hang off the shoulders and protrude just a little more than is natural and there is some wrinkling / creasing at the sleevehead as a result.

NICO

Simon,

It is not the first time I feel curious when you praise the extended shoulder as a point of style. On an overcoat, though, it touches me deeper. I am all for a strong shouldered look, but have grown regretful of having acquired some otherwise great RTW overcoats maybe one size too big -unfortunately I awakened to clothing in the 90’s-, before I progressively went for a trimmer (within reason) look .
I have had everything else in the overcoats altered to downsize, but have not dared to try the shoulders despite being tempted to. I always have the feeling that not all is quite right when wearing them. But then how much perceptible is the difference between involuntary one size too big and deliberate extended shoulder as style choice?

Nico

Thank you Simon. That makes sense completely in the absolute (difficulty to pull off an oversized shoulder) though not quite the answer in the relative (whether the excess from wrong size selection or from a conscious style choice -even if ill advised- can be easily told apart or not). I may have you by now wondering what the hell would that matter , but the possibility that it wouldn’t be blatanty evident would give me some peace of mind 🙂 .

I am 5 ft 9 in so I hardly have the height bonus.

Anonymous

Simon

It’s a beautiful coat. But £7.5k for a coat, that’s crazy money. I would question whether you could wear this coat casually. There just doesn’t seem anything in the construction that points to casual. Perhaps something with a shirt shoulder that buttoned to the collar would have been more versatile.

Anonymous

Ah. Apologies. You did make this point clear in the article.

Joseph

Remarkable how something so simple in concept can be so magnificent. Congratulations on commissioning this veritable work of art.

Interesting how the V of the neckline, which is probably part of the design’s focus on the chest opening you that pointed out in the previous article, is so reminiscent of a tailored jacket’s own.

Chris Tinkler

Ouch! I guess I won’t be buying one from Michael Browne, but have downloaded the photos in case I can find someone else to run me a similar up in my price range.
As an aside, apart from over a dinner suit or possibly at a winter funeral, I can’t think of when I’d wear an overcoat over a suit (or jacket and trouser combination), but would only use over knitwear or other more casual clothes. On the other hand, it’s years since I’ve had to stand on a railway station platform in the winter waiting for a commuter train…

hugh

Global warming!

Evan Everhart

I regularly wear a topcoat over my suits, and over sport coats and trousers as necessary. I like them as my ride to work in the morning is often quite cold, even driving my car, and it makes me more comfortable during the ride. I remove my topcoat at the office, and typically do not wear it home, but sometimes I do. I also wear a topcoat to formal occasions where it is appropriate to have an outer layer as a sign of respect for the occasion, and also in inclement weather, I wear a water-proofed balmacaan coat against the rain. There is nothing inordinate about them, or their wear, at least that’s my position upon the matter. I also am known for wearing 3 piece suits and ties and pocket linen and fedoras most of the time though. Oh! Simon! I’ve just received a notification from my tailor that my suit which I commissioned from him in October should be arriving by this Friday! How exciting!

On a final note, the coat is entirely not my style, but it is quite fine, and very stylish, just perhaps a bit too modern for me. I am an ineffable traditionalist, as I am sure you have gathered by now. This jacket borders upon the fashionable, but eschews that dubious appellation. It remains in Excellent taste and is elegant.

Peter R

Agreed. I had a bespoke overcoat made last year and was asked whether I’d wear it over a jacket or not – in the end compromised as somewhere in between. It’s still big enough to wear over a jacket comfortably but 80% of the time i’m wearing it over a shirt or knitwear.

I then went to have a jacket made by Elia Caliendo (who was amazing) and he was quite surprised when I took off my coat at didn’t have a jacket on underneath but London for him may have felt a lot colder than London for me!

I also think an overcoat can be worn casually – with a button down oxford, a sweater and some jeans it still looks great

Jason

A superb piece of tailoring and as a flagship, niche piece, it works really well.
I particularly like its appearance from the front and certainly the lighter shoulder construction is very interesting. It gives a new type of modernity to the fabulous heritage he mines from C&M and Edward Sexton.
For me, the aesthetic weakness is the back of the coat. Personally I find it too ‘dandyish’ and defies Cary Grant’s advice on simplicity. That said, I can well imagine the overt flaneur sashaying around his ‘metropolis’ in such a piece.
I would emphasise ‘metropolis’ because outside of London, Paris & NYC I think this garment may struggle to find its place.
The other negative is clearly the price.
£7,500 is an indefensible amount of money to spend on tailoring. As somebody who has been lucky enough to accumulate more than his fair share of wonga I could never countenance it and if my inheritors ever made such a move (adjusted for inflation) I vow to rise from the grave and haunt them !
That withstanding – it is a fine piece of work but I fear its main audience will be from those that conflate price with taste. Doubtless the diamond encrusted Rolex mob will be along shortly !

CDBPP

I agree that the fatal flaw is the back.
I think the main problem is the complete contrast with the front. The front has a very modern, clean, lean Kilgourian line and the back is that of an Aubrey Beardsleyesque boulevardier. This type of back fitted better on that double breasted Edward Sexton ( from memory ) coat Simon had made a few years back. Even there it is a bit de trop for my taste, but appropriately dashing. Here it just looks a bit strange compared to the front.
I am delighted that there is a market for this extremely high quality work, but this piece, while stunningly made, is I fear a bit of a stylistic mishmash.
I also dislike overcoats worn over knitwear alone so I admit I may be a reactionary.

JDV

@Jason

Funny that you seem to be an advocate of understatement, yet you don’t to let one opportunity slip to mention your accumulation of wealth and your distinguished “flaneurial”-taste.

Sorry, for the off-topic, no-hate, over and out

Evan Everhart

I detest the word “flaneur”.

Jason

@ fellow flaneur, apologies but I thought this was about a coat.
That said, thinking flaneurs often preface their remarks by saying they couldn’t afford a reviewed item because it’s out of their price range. This is legitimate because it brings context to their comment.
The reverce is also true hence my occasional comment.
Regarding my tasteometer – yes, I have been blessed.
Now about that coat, what do you think ?

Evan Everhart

Still detest that word, Jason. I highly enjoy the rest of yr discourse.

CDBPP

A beautiful “garment as architecture”. Not at all my cup of tea. Weird contrast between the elegant but completely impractical, very open front ( it rains in England ) and the extremely busy back with the excessively feminien waist.
All, as you say, at an eye watering price.
An impressive piece of “fashion art” rather than something I would want to own.

Jay

Exquisite! Although I would assume that the price tag wouldn’t be of much concern for someone who was looking for a niche piece like this after acquiring 3 or 4 coats to wear with suits, in your experience, how much would be considered too expensive or in your words, “very hard to make a case” for a bespoke coat or suit?

AJ

I hear the comment about ‘saving up’ every so often in relation to expensive clothes and also watches. I would think though that most people considering buying a 7.5k coat for instance would be sufficiently liquid to simply buy it. The question would then be if it was worth it or responsible to do so.

Maybe I’m taking the concept of ‘saving’ too literally though?

Peter R

I think that’s a great way to think of saving – waiting for a bonus for example and then allowing yourself one treat

Gab

Yelling about the cost in 3,2,1…

Robin

Truly beautiful coat .
The cut , design , fit etc is exceptional.

But as you rightly point out the price makes this item above and beyond the reach of nearly all .

So my (genuine) question is …. how do we translate this into our wardrobes? Are there places where we can find something approximating that ?

Fatih

That is one gorgeous coat. Absolutely lovely. The only element I don‘t like (in English bespoke tailoring in general) is the style of the breast pocket. It’s just too straight a too narrow in height. A lovely curved and angled barchetta style would have also complimented that curved collar and would have given an additional subtle elegance to the coat.

Sam

Simon,

I know it’s probably a bit boring that every Michael Browne post turns into a discussion about cost, but do you ever have domestic tensions over the price of some these pieces? My fiancee was already aghast at spending EG prices on shoes – it seems like the reality of life is that there’s always something more important to be saving for, and that makes a £7.5k coat seem a bit absurd. I’m assuming the ad revenue etc. for the blog keeps it relatively cost neutral for you?

Nothing against Michael’s prices – I’m assuming that he wouldn’t charge that if people wouldn’t pay it. Presumably most of his customers are falling into the “price is no object” camp though?

Lovely coat though.

Jackson Hart

Simon, let me say something possibly different. I always find it interesting how it’s acceptable to opine on the perceived absurdity of purchasing an expensive coat or suit or shoes and that how its cost represents an indefensible price; but corollary, it is not so to opine that one would never purchase lower costing items. The former person is praised as an astute, thriftier and economical genius and the latter would be universally reviled as a condescending wanker. Although it may be hard to believe by many, there are countless young investment bankers, hedge managers, neurosurgeons and entrepreneurs and the like that look for items like this on which they can spend their millions in bonus money. In fact, they routinely pursue purchases like this that provide an exclusivity factor. They are well-educated and tasteful and would love this coat and hardly would be considered the “diamond encrusted Rolex crowd” (or whatever was intended by that insult). For a high-end bespoke shop, a price tag like this is not that out of center and people line up on waiting lists to get such items made. We have to keep in mind how much someone can afford to pay for something is purely and completely relative.

Anonymous

Completely agree and couldn’t have written it better myself.

Anonymous

This is a lovely coat. The structure and elegance are clear from the pictures.

A few comments. First, I acquired (almost by accident) a body coat years ago. RTW Italian coat that is double-breasted and wool/cashmere blend. A few alterations and it was a great fit. I was not wearing a jacket at the time of shopping. As such, I have worn it as a body coat typically on weekends. It is a great wardrobe item and I get frequent use of it with knitwear and jeans/slacks. Have always been surprised that few seem to mention this type of garment.

The price for this bespoke piece is very high and I have noticed a significant escalation in the cost of bespoke tailoring over recent years. While not an economist, there is a principle that price transparency leads to increase in prices. The typical example used in the US is CEO compensation which has also shown significant growth. Once CEO salaries were published (in the interest of transparency), CEO compensation began to increase. Do you agree with this? I personally think that the cost increases in bespoke have been prohibitive for many to afford who otherwise would have.

Thank you again for the great work on your site.

VSF

I think the term you’re looking for is supply and demand.

Evan Everhart

Hi Simon,

Just to chime in, it is my understanding from reading many books on tailoring and old tailors’ and merchants catalogues, that a body coat is defined as one, which like evening tails, or a frock coat, or a morning coat, has shaped back panels and a waist seam. Yr coat does not, and consequently, I would say that referring to is a body coat is rather a misnomer, and misleading. It does not have the fitted “princess”, or T seams on the back panels, it does not have a waist seam to delineate the torso from the skirts, and it is not fitted to the chest specifically with a waist seam beneath….So I must dissent on the assignment of the term “body coat” to this coat, handsome and elegant though it may be. Perhaps we could chalk this up to a synthesis or evolution of semantics, but I would still argue that the use of the term is confusing. Not trying to be a pedant, but….It is a precise term in the nomenclature of tailoring, as I have always seen it.

Slip

Agreed – I am more familiar with historic tailoring, and found the use of the term “body coat” confusing; Evan, I appreciate your definition of how specifically the term was used and what features this kind of coat would have.

Evan Everhart

Hi Slip,

We are in good company, and I’m pleased to meet someone else on here who is also familiar with the old nomenclature. I am sure that Simon is using the term in perhaps a modern sense (which I am unfamiliar with, modern semantics being what they are, and differences in English being what they are, on one side of the pond, or the other – I think American English is more idiosyncratic, and archaic, often enough, and I like it like that, just like our sack cut suits 😉 ) Have a Happy Friday, Sir!

Simon,

Please keep up yr exceptional posts, and I hope I don’t come off as too much of a bore for all of the quibbling regarding terminology. The coat definitely suits you, and is quite exquisite, if entirely out of my range in all ways. On a final note, thank you for tolerating all of the odd comments in good humor and equanimity. I don’t say this to many, but I really do quite respect your views on clothing on the whole and you are quite knowledgeable. I hope that the positivity of my comment translates well, colloquial and dialectical differences being what they are between our two Englishes. Please keep this all going for as long as possible! Have a Very Happy Friday, and Happy New Year too, though it’s a bit late – I don’t recall if I’d said it already.

CDBPP

There is an enormous variety of price in bespoke and while there is some correlation between price and quality I have found it to be fairly weak. In this regard, I think the correlation is notably weak if you focus on fit, “following orders” ( getting what you want ) and holding up to wear.
The only area where you clearly can often get much better at the higher end is on finish. Like the coat shown here, or many high end French tailors etc. Admittedly less so in the UK. But still to a degree. Hand sewing a lot of button holes beautifully with no visible errors, finishing all the seams immaculately and correctly by hand etc costs money with developed world labour.
In my case, I honestly don’t care about that. In fact, I actively dislike it. I prefer something a little less fussy and more on the “rough and ready” side in terms of finish.
I am not getting into naming names here but I am totally convinced you can get as good a suit for roughly £1500-2000 as for £5000 in London allowing for the above.

Simon C (not Crompton)

That is a seriously nice coat but I concur, rather expensive. But, pound for pound I would say much better value than a £1,200 Moncler or Canada Goose ‘anorak’ or parka if we want to compare coats with coats. I appreciate it is not comparing apples with apples, more grapes with raisins!

Evan Everhart

More accurately, a comparison of raisins with a fine vintage of wine, if perhaps a bit racy.

Gus

Very sharp and very Lapo Elkann

Paul Boileau

Very nice coat which I would find useful as I often wear coats sans jacket with knitwear etc. However, skinflint that I am, I would increase utility by ensuring sufficient ease that it could also be worn with a jacket. The open pleat when standing would bug me. Some years ago I had a jacket with a pleated back and a friend said, “why has your jacket got a “lady part”* on the back? (* words changed for modesty’s sake). That jacket never did get much wear…
If Michael has sufficient clients to maintain his business I respect his decision to strive for perfection. All those fittings don’t come cheap. Does he do the visiting tailor thing?

Pat

Hey SImon!

I think the only piece of information missing that could really give us an understanding of the true value of this coat (when considering its price tag) is the number of hours needed to make this piece possible.

Number of hours spent between you and Michael deciding fabric, design and construction-
Number of hours needed to make the coat –
Number of hours invested in the fittings –
Total # of hours invested in making this coat possible –

Maybe if you both spent months making this coat possible, then all of a sudden a 9month-long project for 7,500 doesnt seem that expensive.

But again, that´s not even taking into consideration the mastery level needed to be able to make it (and flawlessly make it aswell) in the first place.

A lot to think about and consider. But all in all, the coat is beautiful if a little har to use frequently.

Justin

What an incredible piece. At even a glance the jacket is striking but subdued, and incredibly flattering to the figure (impressive those shoulders are created with simple width rather than padding/roping). Bravo to Michael.

Ravi Singh

Simon – this is a lovely coat and a stunning coming together of design and craftsmanship. I think you will get a lot more use out of something like this than one suspects.
One question though; I love the concealed buttons at the cuff – very nice; however, to me they seem just a touch at odds with the buttons showing on the front. Were you tempted to have a concealed front as well or vice versa?

Luciano

Hi Simon. This coat is a masterpiece even if a niche one. In a weather like Italy one would use it much more than in England, I suppose.
The price: it costs like 15 shirts by Wil Whiting, so we are in the same price zone.
A 4000 £ coat would cost like 15 “normal” bespoke shirts, so the ratio is the same.
However, if I could afford it, I would rather order this coat rather than those shirts.
Actually one could set an equivalence scale in terms of “bespoke items” rather than money:
1 coat = 1 pair of shoes = 15 shirts = 1.5 suit etc and then define an absolute scale
in terms of money, like low cost bespoke, normal, science-fiction etc.

Scott

This is a beautiful coat that will serve you well. The back vent however is a design feature that I would have avoided, although I understand your reasoning in adding it. I associate a back vent typically with a woman’s coat and don’t want even a whiff of feminine design in my outerwear, particularly with this masterpiece. A simpler back would have been even better and stayed true to the truth of Cary Grant’s simplicity statement. Now that was a man who had permanent style.

hugh

My immediate free-association is of a single breasted frock coat.

It’s interesting, though probably not for me (I still love the Liverano ulster)

Prince Florizel of Bohemia

Beautiful coat! What I think makes the style most striking and little unusual, despite the overall simplicity, is the deep V and two buttons closer. It makes it look like a very long jacket, which, taking in consideration the way you intend to wear it, was maybe the purpose. All this is emphasize buy the fact you wear it with the lower buttoned undone, exactly how you would were a jacket, at least in my view. In fact, I was thinking about commissioning a similar looking coat as a piece to be worn both over jackets and knitwear. With three-button front, pleat-less back and perhaps less waist suppression (I’m not as trim as you are). I wasn’t sure whether to go for concealed button fastening or buttons being visible as in your coat. You just persuade me that the buttons should be visible.

Peter K

An absolutely beautiful coat.

Do you think a person’s height plays into how elegant such a coat looks? There must be a reason most models are tall.

Charles

This is basically a frock coat, Simon. I like it.
I had been playing with the idea in my head for a while now, of taking inspiration from frocks to make, in a hardy wool or cashmere, a light overcoat to wear on top of knitwear. This makes me want to pull the trigger.
Excellent job by Mr. Browne.

Paul Higson

Simon,

Happy New Year

I understand a lot is being made of the cost of this cost but I have just looked back and your Cifonelli overcoat from 2015 was €7500 so assuming the quality etc. is on the same level the allowing for inflation over 5 years it probably isn’t that bad relatively speaking.

We all have our things that we spend money on, for some it’s Hi-Fi (I know a number of people with £100k+ systems who are not millionaires) others it’s high end watches, then of course there’s cars, and for others clothing etc. So long as you can afford what your thing is with no hardship to your family then I say buy what makes you happy and enjoy it.

Fantastic cost by the way👍

Best wishes,

Paul

Michael

It’s a beautiful coat but, for me, the most striking aspect of the photographs is how happy you look to be wearing it… and who can blame you? Definitely a niche item of clothing but it looks fabulous and I can see why you wanted it.

REUVEN L LAX

I find it interesting that you consider a body coat to be a niche item. The first overcoat I had, I told Edward and Dom that I wanted it fitted over some chunky knitwear, rather than a jacket (though I don’t think we ever used the term “body coat”). I didn’t get a formal overcoat to wear over a suit until my second, and I still wear the first one far more often.

Matthew

It is a wonderful piece. There will inevitably be times in spring / autumn where a simple jacket by itself is not quite enough, but a jacket plus topcoat would be far too much, and this style seems to plug that gap quite perfectly.

Also, frankly I’m not sure why people are moaning about the price so much; many good SR / French / Italian tailors charge £4.0k to £4.5k or more for just a jacket, as everyone on this site probably knows all too well, and (for example) Huntsman charges around £7.3k (again, for just a jacket) for some of their exclusive cloths, so £7.5k for a coat in this material and with the discussed level of finish and fit does not seem out of space, or out of “reach”, by comparison.

Even more frankly, on days when I’m particularly worried about the weather, I just throw on a long waxed cotton coat (from a well-known manufacturer) which cost me a few hundred quid. Job done.

Triskel

Hi Simon, a very interesting commission. The cloth is lovely – herringbone always creates texture and interest and the small amount of cashmere give the slightest sheen, and great drape. Even from the photos the skill and detail is wonderful – though not, despite what some of the comments seem to imply, uniquely so; for example, if you go to the museum of the Risorgimento in Ferrara – admittedly not on everyone’s “must do” list – you will see a uniform of an ordinary volunteer, from the 19th century, of the most amazing quality and skill in the fineness of the (hand stitching) and the piping on the edge of the jacket. Michael Browne is undoubtedly very skilled.

However (and you could see this coming):

1. in practical terms the two (only) buttons will mean that a lot of warmth will seep out, and cold air seep in, when you walk, particularly on windy days; and
2. in aesthetic terms (and I realise that this is purely subjective) this may look (and, if worn with an open necked white shirt, the likelihood of this will increase) to a casual observer incredibly like the resek of Hasidic Jews. There is, of course, nothing intrinsically wrong with that but I doubt whether that was the impression you intended to create.

Alex

I don’t know why so many people fixate on price.

There plenty of arguments, whether political, moral, financial or pragmatic, against spending this much on a coat but this is not the place to have them. This website is a celebration of beauty, craft, elegance and joy. I love clothes, which is why I love reading about clothes like this, regardless of whether I can or would want to afford them.

It would be a great shame if Simon shied away from publishing more pieces of this type because some people think £4K is acceptable for an item of clothing but £7.5k isn’t. Everything on this website is absurd, that’s why it’s wonderful. It’s the absurd that makes life worth living.

It’s a very beautiful coat and happens to typify what I love so much about this site. Plenty of people offer ‘practical’ advice, but no one else is doing what Simon does, nor doing it so well. Please don’t push him down the road of being sensible and practical. That way lies madness.

Ben

It’s an amazing piece.

R Abbott

The coat looks beautiful in pictures, and most be even lovelier in person.

I like the idea of body coat – in certain respects reminds me of the “coat dress” that Kate famously likes to wear. Both very elegant but somewhat niche. (Although to be fair, the “coat dress” is even more niche than the body coat).

I wear sports coats a lot even on weekends, so I don’t see myself getting a body coat in the near future, but looking at these pictures, I’m rather tempted. But needless to say, from someone less dear than Michael Browne…

SMA

I have to say I dont really understand this whole cost discussion.

I mean, dont get me wrong, 7.500 GBP is an insane amount of money for a piece of clothing, but so is 1.000 GBP or 500 GBP for that matter, when you can buy a coat that that keeps you warm for 150 GBP at H &M.

You rarely hear this discussion when buying, say, a VW Passat over a Skoda, or for a certain house, or any number of other things costing quite a bit of money.

The question in my opnion should be, is it worth it to the customer? By that I mean, is the quality of the product commensurate with the price being charged.

As a client of Michael, at least for me, that is certainly the case. His services and clothes are simply amazing, and to top it all off, he is an extremely nice and courteous person.

I am not by any means rich, but I love suits, sports jackets, shirts and ties. But I do not have kids and I dont have a large house. I prefer to spend my money on travel, tailoring and bicycles. That is why I also buy my shirts from Wil Whiting, because this is my hobby and their services are simply extremely good.

Any top level product or service carries and insane price tag compared to an average of its class, that most of the time will fulfill the products primary purpose more than adequately. Does that mean it is insane to want the top level? If you can afford it?

Now, if you want to make a social justice argument, that there must be something wrong with the world where some people go hungry and other people can afford a coat like this, I certainly agree with that and that is a discussion we can have.

But again that argument would then apply equally to any other walks of life, whether it is cars, houses, second homes, restaurant meals, art and on.

I have no problem understanding people who wants to spend their money differently. I suspect, though, most of us have some interest or hobby where we are willing to spend sums of money that for any person not sharing that interest would seem absurd.

Mansy

A good point well made.

I had a conversation with someone in a pub about the price of Luca Avitabile shirts and he thought I was mad to pay their price.

“You know you can get three shirts for 100 quid at TM Lewin?!” was his response.

Later in the conversation the same chap, who lives in Central London as I do, mentioned he drove a Porsche. I remember thinking how narrow people’s outlook can be. I would NEVER spend that much money on a car – especially in Central London where an Oyster card will get you most places more efficiently. However, I could completely understand why he bought it because it’s the same reason I used Luca: quality, design, customisation, heritage, customer service, aftercare etc.

Tudes

A discussion in a pub about Luca Avitabile with someone who owns a Porsche?? I think I know this gentleman!

BespokeNYC

Really good point Mansy! I have to confess though I usually just lie, or try to deflect the question, when somebody asks me how much an item of clothing cost, rather than deal with “that conversation”. Perhaps it’s my own insecurity that there’s something seen as a bit fussy and effeminate about a man being too into clothes. Absurd of course, but it’s not an issue when justifying an expensive car or house.

K

It’s an amazing coat, and it’s lovely to see such stellar craftsmanship and style.

Still, I echo the thoughts about cost above. Up to a point it can be justified on the basis of proportion of income. And even at this price, it’s probably less of a waste than many designer RTW brands. And in Simon’s case, it can be also be partly justified as a business expense. But with austerity England returning to a “Dickensian picture” of poverty where kids lack warm coats (according to the National Education Union) it’s hard to say there’s no upper bound. There’s gotta be a sweet spot where the tailor makes a good profit, the client gets a superb product, and everyone has a nice, warm, reasonably stylish coat.

Not blaming anyone; I spend more than I need to on clothes myself and of course cheaper RTW clothing often involves different forms of inequity that eat away at craft. From a policymaker’s perspective I wonder what can be done to better sustain both craft and equity.

Frank Shattuck

Simon, congratulations to you and the craftsman. This coat is magnificent. I see the five fittings in the end result. Four fittings used to be customary in tailored clothes. Customary for the old masters. Especially on a first coat. But traveling tailors convinced folks that two was all was needed. Never apologize for more fittings. This tailor did beautiful work here. I would only hope I could come close.

Scott

How would you design something like this coat for a client? I really like the idea of a long coat made to be worn only with knitwear.

Oldtailorways@gmail.com

Scott, are you asking me ? If so , I make your basic box coat or chesterfield. This is top craft stuff. I’m a simple tailor.

Anonymous

Yes sir

Frank Shattuck

Scott, take a look at Paul Newman’s Henry Stewart cashmere topcoat in “The Color of Money”. In 1987 or so that topcoat cost $6500. It was a famous topcoat in the NYC tailoring world because Mr. Newman personally gave Henry a $2000 tip. A copy of the check was on the wall in the shop. At the time, 1990 is so, Henry made fur lined cashmere topcoats for $10,000. They were from another time. You can also look atLee Marvin’s fur lined cashmere topcoat in “Gorky Park”. And Harrison Ford’s topcoat in “Regarding Henry”. Henry made all the clothes for these gentlemen in these movies. This is fun homework and you’ll enjoy the movies.

Kevin

As this piece lives somewhere between a tailored coat and an overcoat, would you wear a pocket square with it?

A pocket square might be a bit much for the photos here–all darker tones–but with different trousers, different rollneck, scarf, etc. it might work. But I could be wrong.

Anonymous

Simon if you get such a good report from Old Henry, how come you don’t give a comment in response?

Frank Shattuck

Simon, I got your back 👍🏼

Anonymous

Frank’s nom de plume. Don’t you know who he is?

Aston

Frank is arguably the most highly skilled, traditional bespoke tailor operating in the USA today Simon. You will find him in upstate New York. He is a regular poster on London Lounge, where he is held in the highest esteem by Michael Alden and many of the contributors to that forum, all of whom are long standing bespoke afficionados.

Old Henry is his nickname.

C S

Beautiful coat;
Perhaps one could describe it as a particular long jacket? Seems to me to work wonderfully with a subtle shirt knitwear jacket and pocket square for a variety of occasions,
Absolutely lovely tailoring

Beautiful, congratulations!
The notch lapel is definitely the right choice for this coat.
I would love to wear the coat with bright orange oder brigt red turtleneck.

MN

Hello Simon,
That’s such a beautiful coat! What is the weight of the wool? Was there any reason a higher percentage of cashmere was not chosen?

Gonzague

Some say the central vent is too feminine: I love it, not sure about the below. Had you considered a martingale?
Sadly the front quarters open but tend to close back near the very bottom. I find it visually poor, and would have avoided it either through a somewhat shorter cut or quarters with more opening at the very bottom.
Nice sleeves.

Mark E. Seitelman

The use of a “shop ticket” in place of a regular label is interesting. I think that the other Browne, Thom Browne, also does this. It is useful so that the coat can be identified readily in a coatroom full of identical looking charcoal and black coats.

I personally prefer no label. Keep ’em guessing. Some might think that it’s a generic no name coat from the outlet stores. However, those “in the know” will know that this is the sign of a bespoke coat, and they will look inside the pocket.

As for the discussion over cost, I love the comments to the effect that “I would rather die than spend this money!” No one is forcing anyone to buy such a coat. I would think that the customers who do so aren’t neglecting the electric and grocery bills.

Overall, it is a lovely coat. However, it would not suit me in that I always wear either a suit coat or sports coat.

Adam

It’s not a shop ticket. Most bespoke tailors use a label like this INSIDE a breast pocket, writing the client’s name, the date of manufacture and, perhaps, a pattern number, on it, normally in ballpoint pen.

Frank Shattuck

I say this craftsman is easily worth this price. I know how much time went into making this masterpiece, and also the years of diligent study it took him to learn. A Bergdorf Goodman ,factory made Brioni top coat is $8000.oo off the rack. Mr. Brown, I’m humbled by your work and I tip my hat to you, Sir.

Rune

Hi Simon,
I would very much like to buy an bespoke overcoat. What does a bespoke coat cost? What is the price range I should expect? How can you make a good value for money coat and still stay in the «premium» end of tailoring? Which kind of fabrics give «good value for money»? And which kind of design give «good value for money»? Should I choose a coat that I can wear a suit under? Or perhaps one for only a shirt and thin knitwear? I guess somthing that is closer to the body shape may look nicer? My questions are perhaps to broad to answer deeply in this post. Perhaps you can make a seperate post on this?

Seb

I’m not surprised by the cost at all: I have a 2005 Renault Clio that is worth a similar amount and doesn’t look that good!

Peter

On the issue of cost it is worth mentioning that Michael will harvest a relatively small amount of revenue from this garment.
It’s generally not to my own taste but the concept and execution are beyond reproach.

David Marriott

simply breathtaking!

WES WP

Simon –
The coat has the look and feel of “costume” – at least to me. I think value-for-money is a concern for most of us – I couldn’t possibly justify a vicuna sport=coat (for instance), because I could never amortize it. In this case, you’ve chosen to commission a very expensive coat that you couldn’t possibly wear on a regular basis – especially given how many coats you have. I get that the coat was made “for the blog” (more than it was made for you), but it has the stylized (and severe) look of a period piece – it’s almost like a blazer that was made for Morpheus from The Matrix (or maybe Neo – not sure). I would feel ensconced (not in velvet, a la George Costanza) – but ensconced in a kind of cape. You have an amazing post on “When Style Becomes Costume,” and I feel this piece qualifies as Exhibit A. One’s clothes should improve their posture (especially tailoring), and this coat does just that – you look like a statue in this thing. But I wonder about the other aspects of what you’re having made for this blog – is it truly what you want (given just how many things you have made that utterly disappoint you – or should, quite frankly – like those recent bespoke shoes that were unacceptable for the money paid). I wonder if you get things made – at this point – to have new content – or if it’s driven by your desire to buy things that you will actually wear (as it seems you do, indeed, have a uniform you fall back on since leaving your corporate, publishing gig). Anyway – my 2 cents added for your – nearly $10,000 USD coat.

Alex N.

Dear Simon,
The body coat is a great piece of clothing. Hugo Jacomet had a similar concept with a Cifonelli overcoat cut for wearing above sweaters. Both are fabulous, but Michael’s style is definitely a bit too strong for me. It reminds me of Dracula in some weird way.
I wanted to ask you about the Fox flannel trousers. How are you finding the weight? What’s the coldest temperature you would still consider wearing them? It’s rather unfortunate that so much of winter clothing in menswear is not for truly cold weather (-10C or lower).
Best regards,
Alex N.

Peter

With all due respect Cifonelli aren’t in the same league.

Anonymous

Did you take it to Pitti Uomo with you?

SC

Slick coat. Ive got another comment about price…but more regarding relative ratio. This is £7500 whereas a suit starts at £6500 for MB. Is it customary for a coat to be more expensive than a two piece suit? If so, is it because of the thicker heavier weight fabric…because it would seem the body coat is more like a super long jacket so the sqft of material used would be similar or even less than a suit but with less extra work cutting and fitting for trousers…

JOHN Scott-leith

Looks better at back front waist button good idea but doesn’t work

Tung

I am a big fan of this kind of coat. Currently, I live in Dalat, Vietnam, in which the weather is cool, I suppose that is the good place to wear this. By the way, I am a newbie in this blog. I come here for studying English as well as learning more about how to dress well.

Malcolm B

Lovely, precise tailoring. I actually disagree on the interpretation that this is less practical or versatile than other pieces. It really depends on what you wear and how you wear it. Recently you have noted a move away from formality, to some extent, with your own wardrobe tending towards a mix of less structured tailored Italian jackets and well made casual/workwear. I might wear this coat more often, especially at the weekend, than one designed to go over a suit, and that’s how I’m having my own Edward Sexton one sized. I already have 2 overcoats/great coats to go over suits. The price, as has been noted, is on the high side but when compared with prices from, say, Huntsman or Edward Sexton, the difference is measured in hundreds, not thousands of pounds. Would you put the quality if finish above, or equal to current C&M work? And finally, maybe too early and you’re still in the first flush of enjoyment, but anything you would change?

Tim

It’s a nice coat, for certain. I’m not sure about the back, and the front button does look a little low. But certainly a beautiful thing.

I know you said it was a niche item, but how many overcoats do you have now? And still (IIRC) not one Raglan sleeved casual coat? Perhaps you need to get to Naples where they’ll make you one – I understand London tailors will always shy away from Raglan sleeves.

Stephen Dolman

Although I haven’t had anything made by Michael, since 1971 I have had suits made by tailors who we’re perhaps his mentors and/or his inspiration and where this genesis came from.
As I read somewhere, there is something about a top notch bespoke suit that makes you feel a million dollars and (I.M.H.O) gives a confidence that cannot be equaled.
For example: it feels that it can button itself and even makes you hold yourself better.
As I approach 75 the appeal of fine clothes does not lessen, if anything it gets even stronger. Indeed, I am picking up my latest suit next week and I am as excited as when I had my first bespoke suit in 1971. More power to Michaels elbow.

Philip

People are homeless, people are in poverty, kids go to school hungry, the NHS is crumbling. As I recall, you have an Ulster coat and you have this one. Total cost of two overcoats? Sixteen thousand pounds. However you want to rationalise it, I can’t see that this is right.

Frank Shattuck

Saint Philip, Simon is doing a great job keeping the old tailor craft alive. He’s the only one promoting this ancient craft. It takes great thought and many hours to hand make this coat. Many people make a living from this coat. Why are you on here ? You should be handing out sandwiches to the less fortunate.

Evan Everhart

Philip,

A man who earns his own money, may spend that money however he sees fit, that is the basis of a free society and the capitalist system. Furthermore, Simon is fostering an industry and encouraging its sustenance when precious few others are, in short, he is contributing to the livelihood of various craftsmen who’ve spent years at their respective crafts and talents to make a living, and support themselves and their families.

Rik

Hi Simon – beautiful coat. I remember you had an overcoat from an Italian tailor that came in around this same price. It was more informal, brown-orange if I remember rightly. How does this one compare in terms of make and quality? Rik

Evan Everhart

Hi Simon,

On an entirely unrelated note, thought following up upon a previous, though ongoing conversation which we’ve been having, I am going in for a fitting and consultation for my 4 piece suit this coming Wednesday! I will be meeting with my old friend Ravi, who is the owner of the company and the Master Cutter. I am very pleased. We will be consulting upon my suit and fine tuning any details which may require final work.

Talk soon!

Anonymous

I’m afraid I’m not keen. I find hybrid garments like this never quite work. Is it a jacket, is it a coat? Does it function as either properly? I also agree with a previous commenter that the waist is rather feminine and at that cost I just can’t see Any value.

Fastship

There is “niche” and then there is “niche”. Last summer I commissioned a classic Crombie style double breasted overcoat in navy Escorial which in fact, was inspired by the well known Carry Grant photo (of him) emerging from Claridge’s. This winter hasn’t been especially cold so far but the coat is nevertheless, functional as it protects a more expensive suit beneath from the wet & filthy streets of London, which more often than not are a construction site. It was superbly made over a three month period by a tailor who specialises in classic naval tailoring and cost a lot less then £2k! (but these are Liverpool prices) and will last me the rest of my days. Even if worn for four months of the year it is good value. Next week we are off to Naples (postponed due to strikes from a year ago) to have a some summer coats made up which will also be worn for about four months only but are also functional. Mr Grant’s philosophy on clothes was sound.

Re. your coat – the slope of the lapel notch parallels the 45 degree slope of your shoulders which the roping (my pet hate) further emphasises – you need to do military presses young Simon and plenty of ‘em!

Frank Shattuck

Sloping shoulders have nothing to do with muscle development. It’s bone structure and sometimes developed trapezoid muscles. Simon has classic sloping shoulders. Boxers have sloping shoulders from developed trapezoids.

SC

I’m amazed at how sharp the shoulder line and roping look with light construction, as you say significantly less padding vs C&M and Sexton which have a similar look…I can imagine much more ease of movement and comfort whilst still looking like traditional structured English tailoring. Just curious if you could comment on how this look is achieved with minimal padding and if the structured look still holds up while moving compared to these static poses or if there are folds and breaks as you move…

SC

I see…to straighten the line but still following your normal slope, whereas with C&M and Sexton, the shoulder would be built up more horizontally and appear more “stronger”

Burt

No doubt Michael has put a lot of thoughts, sweat & handwork in this coat 😊
The design is special and in a way it reminds me of Ethiopean long distance runners. Perhaps a certain body type is needed to wear this one?
I know Michael made a double breasted version in black wool for personal use some years ago, to be worn without a jacket. I found that very impressive. Happy to read he’s doing well.

Andrew Poupart

This coat is superb. I recently bought one of Sexton’s RTW greatcoats (perhaps that design was inspired by the coat he made for you a while back?). I decided, in the end, to buy a size to fit over tailored clothing rather sized smaller to fit over knitwear. I was not sure that I wear knitwear plus a coat often enough (like, never!). But I’d change the way I dress to wear this coat. Your taste, Simon, and mine diverge quite often but sometimes they are congruent and this is one such occasion. The line is immaculate, the back details are what I would have chosen. I am envious and full of admiration for both your taste and the evident quality that this coat represents.

As far as cost is concerned, I believe there can be no such thing as “overpriced” or “too expensive”. Those are simply subjective statements made from the commenter’s own frame of reference. While it’s true that there is not always a direct correlation between price and quality, the best is almost never inexpensive compared to other options in the market. But the price of this coat and other garments, shoes, watches, whatever is quite simply a reflection of what the market will bear. You want this coat, here’s the price. If you don’t want to pay the price, you don’t get the coat but to complain that it is somehow “overpriced” is absurd. If Michael can make a living making clothes at his price point, then he should. It’s also a way for him to regulate demand, of course.

This coat is not costume (dear god, the timid!), it is not extravagant, and it is not overpriced. I agree that it is a niche item, but so what? It’s a piece I would be proud to own and even more proud to wear.

Finally, I’m sorry that our only meeting at Pitti was to pass one another at Harry’s. I would enjoy a longer chat with you one day.

Shattuck

Thank You, Andrew, for summing this coat and comments up so perfectly. You are %100 correct on ALL points. Thank you. Most of the comments missed the point completely. It’s a masterful coat. It’s is extreme craftsmanship. It’s not niche. It’s not overpriced. It’s not costume. It suits the wearer. It is masterful architecture. I couldn’t do it on my best day.

Sebastian

Thoughts on wearing a black necktie when wearing a dinner suit? Can it ever look good?

Anonymous

Dear Simon,

First, that is certainly lovely coat. The detail above the cuff buttons is clever and tasteful.

Second, please excuse the usurping of this thread; I’ve actually been trying to reach you for a while with a question about bespoke top hats. I sent a few emails to the addresses given here on the site. Do you have a different preferred contact method? Please let me know how to reach you, especially for correspondence of a bit more length. Thanks.

Felix

Hi Simon,

what is your opinion on traditional lovat covert coats – too much of a Nigel Farrage clichee or do you see a place for them in a smart wardrobe?

Best, Felix

Ollie

Hey Simon,

Just wanted to start of this comment by saying how beautiful this coat is, it’s inspiring to see someone, like Michael, who’s so dedicated to their craft.
Being so different, It’s likely you love all of the following for different reasons, but being subjective, if you had to pick between your MB, L&L or Cifonelli, which would you go for & why?

ps. from a finishing perspective, would you rank MB alongside Cifonelli?

Ollie

Interesting to know re. the finishing. One last question for you! MB, by the looks of his website, emphasises the experience- identifying how the client dresses, the scenarios in which they’ll be wearing the comission etc. Lots of us buy into bespoke due to the outcome- the item of clothing that we’re comissioning. How does the ‘client-defined’ experience differ between these three houses? (MB, Cif. & C&M).

Anonymous

What weight is the coat? I couldn’t figure it out on the H&S page.

Anonymous

Hello Simon, I looked at up the flannel trouser fabric — isn’t it more appropriate for jacketing, according to the Fox flannel website?

Would you recommend this color and weight for someone who likes heavier trousers?

Anonymous

I really like this overcoat made by Michael Brown and am curious about the one by Ettore de Cesare.

I know it’s comparing apples and oranges, but who would you go for? Michael does multiple fittings where Ettore does 1-2, judging from your overcoat post.

Could Michael’s English coat complement a natural Neapolitan sports jacket? Or would the two shoulders be too different to layer?

Anonymous

Hi Simon, when do you think it’s better to add cuffs to an overcoat or top coat?

Christopher F.

Beautiful, and by its cost, a true luxury piece with only select use and little to no multiple wearing options. A once in a lifetime purchase for the man who, in fact, has everything and price is of no concern at all

Anonymous

You mention your sweater as a roll neck, but is it not a turtleneck since the folding area extends to the bottom of your neck? My impression was that the roll neck has a shorter fold. What’s the difference between the two?

Anonymous

If you had to get one roll neck sweater would it be in navy (like yours), light grey, or mid grey? Which is most versatile?

Sean

Dear Simon,

I truly admire the Sexton/Joe Morgan/Michael Browne aesthetic. However, the cut appears to be extremely “high maintenance.” With the very precise and heavily structured silhouette, one can imagine that any small change in an individual’s body can potentially negatively impact the fit of the garment. More or less, the rigidness of the structure seems to inhibit flexibility in relationship to every day wear and to changes in body structure. Have you had any of these kind of problems with your garments made in this style? If so, would you recommend their type of house style to someone who lives outside of the UK. More over, one that may lack easy access to the tailors for the purpose of potentially frequent maintenance and re-fittings?

Sean

Thank you Simon. I just reviewed the article. You essentially answered my first question. Would you still recommend the Sexton/Browne/Morgan house style to someone that lives abroad (far from London/overseas) and has infrequent access to them?

Michael

I just had my initial consultation with Michael Browne and I have to say it has been my best bespoke experience so far. The place is very cool and has quite a bit of pieces that spark discussions of style. Michael’ s style is strong and I wouldn’t feel comfortable in some of the more adventurous pieces but he was extremely open minded and seemed to enjoy my knowing what I like. He inspired confidence in me that the garment will be excellent. I also found very useful that he had a test garment which you can put on to help visualize style and talk about aspects of the commission (it also helps with balance, etc.)

On a personal note, Michael was very kind and had the kindest eyes. For me it is important that the person who clothes me is a good person and I could certainly say I felt like that in his company.

On price: Michael is without a doubt expensive. However, I feel that there’s little difference if you spend 5 or 8 thousand on a suit (both are ludicrously expensive) and I would have someone who is as involved with Michael in the process. He certainly made me feel as a client he takes interest in rather than just rushing me through the process. I see Michael as the occasional piece maker, perhaps one a year for a special occasion (also his process makes it harder to do more than that).

Disclaimer: Don’t judge the clothes too much on the basis of what you see in instagram. It really is not representative at all of how the garments look and move in real life. There’s too much focus on very very small details and you miss the overall impression of a garment. The sleeve head style of MB is beautiful and doesn’t look as extravagant as some pictures suggest and is much more different than the cifonelli shoulder.

Michael