The style of a belted wrap coat – with Whitcomb, Saman Amel and The Armoury
Just before Christmas, I took my belted coat into Whitcomb & Shaftesbury to have it converted into a normal overcoat.
As detailed on my original article, this was always a possibility.
I began the experiment of a bespoke wrap coat with the awareness - based on previous bespoke experiments - that as it was something I’d never made or seen made before, it might not turn out as envisaged.
I therefore planned in the ability to convert to something more standard if needed.
The work to do so will not be small. Adding the needed buttonholes (the original coat had none on the outside) will take considerable time.
But it was always going to be better than wasting the entire coat, by making something I just didn’t like the style of.
When I asked readers for their opinion on that original article, most recommended that the coat stay as it was. And it did look good.
The problem was that the belt and general wrapping didn’t function too well. This was a result of several things, including the belt itself and the cloth.
But most important, I think, was the normal structure of a bespoke overcoat: the internal layers of canvas, the shaping in the hand padding, the tension in the collar.
All of these are designed to make a bespoke coat clean and sharp - not loose and easy to belt and cinch.
This was brought home particularly when I compared it to a made-to-measure belted coat from Saman Amel - pictured above.
The Loro Piana herringbone cloth it’s made from is lighter than the Dormeuil of the Whitcomb coat. But it’s also denser, and therefore not necessarily easier to belt.
The difference is the structure. There is some light fusible in there around the collar, but otherwise the Saman Amel coat has no canvas, padding or hand stitching. It’s just cloth, designed to drape from the shoulders and be belted to shape as desired.
There will be Neapolitan tailors that could make a belted coat with almost no structure.
But on my experience I’d say such designs are best kept to ready-to-wear or made-to-measure. Brands like Eidos, King & Tuckfield and Stile Latino have offered nice versions in the past.
This functionality is crucial, because the whole appeal of a belted coat - whether wool herringbone or cotton trench - is the way it can be cinched.
Tying the coat closely is flattering - both because it emphasises the waist, and because it creates fullness in the chest and back.
In the image above, you can see how this cinching (together with the upturned collar) makes the back and shoulders appear larger.
It helps that casual, off-hand tying of the belt also looks relaxed and unfussy.
If taken too far, the effect can look a little effeminate. But it’s easy to control that by sizing up or down.
And an alternative is to tie the belt at the back - as most often seen on trench coats.
This has the advantage of shaping the waist of the coat, but also keeps the front clean and uninterrupted.
In the image above, you can see how the Saman Amel coat - despite being very roomy through the body - now has some nice shape from the chest down into the waist, as a result of the cinching at the back.
And the tightness of that cinch can be adjusted, even having the coat flowing and A-line if it’s the look you prefer.
As ever with Saman Amel, I think they’ve done a great job with the styling of this coat, and the cloths they offer it in.
The Loro Piana Pecora Nera herringbone is a lovely grey/bone, and very versatile. You can also get it in a range of cloths from the normal tailoring bunches - popular ones the guys recommend are some coverts, and a water-repellent cotton.
The only things I would personally change about the coat are to move the in-breast pockets up and make the collar a little larger.
The collar point is a subjective one, and is affected both by my style and by what I think looks good on me personally.
But the position of the pockets is more functional, as at the moment they sit behind the belt of the coat, meaning anything inside gets in the way slightly of tying the coat.
As with all such suggestions, it’s something I’ve already mentioned to Saman and Dag before doing so publicly.
I think it’s also interesting to include some pictures of the ‘Marc’ coat from Coherence that I got from The Armoury last year.
This is ready to wear, and I was unsure about which size to get - medium or large - based on the points of cinching above.
When belted, the large has rather more room in the chest and skirt, making it more dramatic. So I went for the medium instead (pictured) which is more subtle but is perhaps a tiny bit shorter than I’d ideally want.
It’s still a great example of how good cinching in a coat can look, however. I love the fullness in that dark-green microfibre across the back.
And the room in the skirt is incredibly practical. It’s not until you sit down in a coat like this - on the train perhaps - that you realise how much easier that is when there’s volume below the waist. Pockets are easier to access too.
The Marc is only available at The Armoury, and was a simplified version of the original ‘Mutt’ model from Coherence.
It is much easier to use than that original, and one of the my favourite features is the collar, which stays upright and buttons perfectly under the chin. Very reassuring when the cold rain is battering down.
The only small downside of this design, perhaps, is that it can’t be worn open easily. Even if belted at the back, the volume in the front is too much to be left unfastened. Unlike slimmer models like the Saman Amel.
The Saman Amel belted coat is available made to measure from them at trunk shows, and starts at £1800 (the Loro Piana cloth is rather more expensive, at £2400). They are in New York on January 20-28 and back in London in early February.
The Whitcomb coat can be seen in detail on the previous article here.
Photography of the latter two, Jamie Ferguson. Shots of the Marc, Alex Natt.