As with our previous article in this series – on bags – five coats might seem like a lot, but actually chances are many readers already have that in their wardrobe, if they account for smart and casual coats, for warmth and for rain.
And given the number of questions I’ve had about buying a coat this winter, clearly readers are looking to see what they should add, upgrade or replace in order to have a small but high-quality collection.
Below are the five categories I’d suggest, followed by one or two particular recommendations in each. We’re not including anything short – whether suede blouson or horsehide leather – and nothing that reaches into warmer months. These are coats, not jackets.
1 A double-breasted overcoat
- Navy wool or cashmere for something formal, whether office or evening
- Brown or grey wool/tweed for something more casual, that could stretch to smart too
The double-breasted overcoat might be my favourite piece of menswear. It’s so dramatic, yet classic; so functional, yet indulgent. It never looks too dressed up and out of place, and yet it’s an absolute joy to commission and wear.
There’s an argument that you need a bespoke coat less than a bespoke jacket. A good argument. But I still recommend an overcoat as the second or third thing anyone has made bespoke, because it can usually be worn more often.
As to colours, navy will probably be the best choice unless you never wear a suit to work. If you don’t, look at more casual colours like dark brown wools and tweeds, or a mid-grey herringbone.
2 A raglan coat
- Grey or brown tweed, donegal or herringbone
- Tan twill or covert, as a lighter mid-season coat
- (Pea coat or Bridge Coat)
I’m doing these in order of how important they seem likely to be, for most readers – rather than formality or anything else.
There will be some that dislike the sloping shoulders on a raglan, or its lack of shape in the body. In many ways it is the opposite aesthetic of a tailored overcoat.
But if you don’t, a raglan can be a perfect bridge between formal and casual. In a dark and fairly classic colour, it can still be suitable for work. Yet it’s much more likely to complement jeans or chinos than an overcoat.
Two good examples, which I’m referring to in the suggestions above, are the Permanent Style Donegal coat, in a grey herringbone this season, or something more like my Saman Amel coat. The latter is only a raglan at the back, but the spirit is the same. It’s easier to belt something lighter like that too.
The traditional Loden coat also falls squarely into this category, even if it’s not one I’ve ever liked so much as tweed raglans or balmacaans.
A pea coat is of course not a raglan, but I’ve included it in this section as it can do a similar job of bridging casual and formal. Particularly something long enough to go over a suit jacket, like the Bridge Coat.
3 A rain coat with removable liner
- Navy, olive or beige cotton, long and belted
- Waxed cotton, shorter, easier for movement if not as good for the legs
I’m always banging on about the fact that we don’t need rainproof coats most of the time. Wool is perfectly fine to get wet, even drenched. You just need to look after it.
But still, everyone will probably want a rain coat for when it’s really chucking it down, and an umbrella is not an option. Ideally in Ventile, wax or some kind of treated cotton, rather a crinkly synthetic.
A removable lining is crucial, even if it makes the piece more expensive. It makes the coat something you can wear into winter, rather than just for spring or autumn showers.
And waxed cotton is a great option for anyone that is more active in their coat – perhaps walking the countryside, or looking after a dog – or for any other reason just wants something shorter.
4 A casual coat
- A duffle coat, navy or tan
- A parka, any colour
- A shearling, olive or brown
This is a broad section, encompassing everything you’re always going to wear with jeans or other casual trousers.
A duffle coat, of course, is the smartest of these, and can look nice with tailoring too. Though really the appeal there is the contrast between the nice jacket and the thick frumpy duffle.
A down parka is a necessity for people that have very cold winters, whether in Scandinavia or North America. I’ve never found one I think works with tailoring, but I love my Nigel Cabourn Everest Parka (in navy), and it’s been worn with casual clothing in snow in both those places.
There are also military parkas, vintage examples of which I think can look nice as a high/low combination not too far from a duffle coat.
Shearling coats, though often shorter, are worn for the same reasons of warmth, and usually look more elegant. But still I wouldn’t really wear one over a jacket.
5 A top coat, or polo, or one more from the top
- A single-breasted top coat, or covert
- A camelhair polo coat
When we reach number five, it gets more and more likely that the choice will depend on lifestyle.
A top coat would be a great choice for anyone that dresses smartly for work. Whether a navy wool/cashmere or a velvet-collared covert coat, it will be worn as soon as it gets chilly, and until the cold makes a longer double-breasted absolutely necessary.
We haven’t mentioned polo coats so far, and as mentioned in the article here, the great thing about a camel polo is how it looks great with jeans, despite its more formal cut and style. It might be too showy for a lot of guys to wear to work, but if you love DB overcoats and don’t dress smartly, it’s a great choice.
Or, double down on something from the list above. Have both a waxed and a cotton raincoat, because you like that practicality. Have a duffle and a parka, if that’s your style. Personally I’d get two DB overcoats – such as my Ciardi ‘British Warm’ as well as my Liverano tweed.
Whatever suits you the most, a set of four or five coats like this should cover any eventuality. Any additions can be upgrades justified by a period of saving, and by finding a good home for the coat that’s to be replaced.
All images taken from previous PS articles. If you don’t recognise something, ask and I’ll provide the source
I have two coats and see no need to own any more. I seem to recall and interesting chat in the comments of a previous post Simon where you debated if PS encourages overconsumption. I would say that suggesting that 5 coats be an appropeiate ‘capusle collection’ may feed into the theory that PS does perhaps encourage unneceesary consumption.
Thank you Ian. You’re right, it’s probably not right to describe this as a capsule collection, and the number five makes far more sense with shirts and shoes than it does with coats or bags.
Still, I’d be surprised if most readers don’t have four or five pieces of outerwear – probably a smarter and a more casual, a rain coat and one other
Down to one overcoat, thanks. A Salko Loden at that. Prince Charles has two. Too many things is a problem.
Although it’s common knowledge that Prince Charles has two overcoats (heavy brown wool and a camel hair), he actually has more than that. Including single and double breasted camel hair, navy wool / cashmere, trench coat, various military overcoats, casual / country / sporting coats etc. He’s certainly fond of those 2 main coats and has achieved great mileage of them over the years – but he does have other coats as well.
Sounds terrible inconvenient. Board meetings, countryside walks, Autumn and early Spring, casual, evening out… 1 coat just can’t do it all
Increasingly don’t get the opportunity to wear my coats, I wish I did. My raincoat only comes out if I expect a rainy day out in town walking, otherwise a brolly & jacket. My wax for country walks when cold or Grenfell shooter when mild. My Bridgecoat, knee length hasn’t had the opportunity of an outing for a few years due to Covid & mild winters. Ditto for my Mohair raglan. But I’m always hopeful that this winter I’ll wear these coats & get the pleasure of them. I doubt I’ll buy another coat; tempered by sustainability, age & controlling my desire.
Yes, I am in the “only five?” cohort. I refrain from criticizing anyone for their purchases…..for most of us we each have our poisons and I am loathe to burden anyone with my criticism of theirs.
Thinking about the comment again Ian, I’ve changed the title as I can see how it could give that impression, and that’s not what I want.
I’m not suggesting that anyone should buy all of these, or that they necessarily need five. It’s more responding to questions from readers about what to buy in each of these categories. I hope that makes sense.
If I can defend Simon for a moment. I have always been under the impression that many of the recommended items on this blog are intended to last over 15 years or so with proper care. This argument of course doesn’t apply to socks and shirts but does to coats and jackets.
I feel that this is in contrast to much of clothes shopping. Where people buy what is ultimately a lump of plastic in the shape of a t-shirt or shoe, and then bin it in a matter of weeks to buy another one. I can’t call PS a blog that endorses over-consumption when for almost all of fashion the status-quo is wrecking the environment, throwing away money in the long-run, keeping the sweatshops open.
Or perhaps I’m the only one with this impression? Does Simon expect us to replace all these suits, coats and leather shoes four times a year? Or whenever he writes a new article?
I think that intended life span of the garment has nothing to do with overconsumption. For example Marrkt is full of high quality “slow fashion” pieces which were just impulsively purchased, barely worn and I believe also replaced by another pieces every few months.
I’m sure that’s the case. However we’re discussing what this blog encourages. Saying that some people don’t keep long-lasting clothing doesn’t mean it’s what PS encourages.
I also don’t say that PS encourages the overconsumption directly but let’s be honest: To present all these beautiful garment pieces week by week and at the same time to expect that “readers shouldn’t buy / try them all or at least significant part of them” is not working very well. I don’t say this to blame Simon; I just think it is the general problem of any blog presenting some product for consumption and that things do work in accordance with “what the eye doesn’t see, the heart doesn’t grieve over” and vice versa.
Self control, quality , sustainability & style are the watchwords.
I feel the same Matt. Collection like this, of lasting quality, is something I’d build over 10-20 years and with proper maintenance expect to last my whole life.
I live in a climate where I can wear a coat from mid-September to beginning of May. Having only two coats of which one is formal, worn rarely and another casual, worn often, seems restrictive. The casual coat will get worn through fast and I will be forced to replace it many times so theres literally no benefit to environment. I’d rather have choice and fun.
This argument is always wheeled out when these things are discussed on PS. Regardless of how long something last’s, having more than is necessary is still over consuming. Ladislav makes a good point about Marrkt and people having a high turnover of supposedly sustainable and long lasting, high quality items. Indeed Simon himself has demonstrated this with the recent post about the sale shop. With himself and the other participants listing many high quality and relatively new garments that have been bought and presumably not fully used as they have not been needed or been replaced with something similar, the definition of over consumption.
I think updating the title goes someway to being closer to what your intentions may
have been Simon although the article still reads as though one might need a
coat in each category rather than being an article that informs someone on
specific choices within each category. I think this is the fundamental issue
with these things. A title change does not alter the content, perception or
reading of the article as a whole. To avoid promoting overconsumption I think a
more radical approach is required in terms of the content and presentation of
the articles. The pieces on how to care for and repair garments are a good
example and i really liked the ‘how great things age’ articles which seem to
have now dropped off .
Those ‘how great things age’ articles aren’t going anywhere, and there’s another in the works.
On the Marrkt listing, it’s not really accurate to use me, James or others in the menswear industry as examples. I have always said that people should not buy or try as many things as I do. I have to do so for my job – readers expect not just recommendations, but accurate context from every other option available.
On the article, I think a lot guys will have one in every category, or pretty close – some have already commented that, as I predicted, it seems like a lot and then you realise you do have 4 or 5. This is particularly the case with older guys, who have been buying for a good few years. Which is the average PS reader.
The thing that stops overconsumption is not buying more than that – only replacing or upgrading, and always finding good homes for the ones that are replaced.
I agree. I don’t feel that 4 or 5 coats is excessive given the range of situations in which they will be worn and the length of time they will last. As such I don’t think the article encourages overconsumption and I actually thought that ‘capsule collection’ was a good description.
I mean, just think about rain. Could be 60 and raining – technical jacket, aka Patagonia. Could be 50 and raining – Barbour. Could be 40 and raining – Mac or Trench. Could be 30 and…ok that’s snow, and we’re in a whole new ballgame with only 2 outs (jackets) to go.
I think the top coat/raglan debate is really the one to have – can you wear a balmacaan to the office with a suit? In my mind, yes (especially if it’s that Camoshita one).
I think we have to apply some common sense to this discussion. I don’t think anyone can genuinely accuse Simon of encouraging over consumption because he publishes an article with five different options, whether it’s billed as a ‘capsule’ or not. Each of us as individuals has to decide what is appropriate consumption, in terms of what is needed and what is excessive. I come to PS for clothing inspiration and Simon’s opinions, not to follow whatever Simon writes without making my own decisions. Yes, the article does perhaps promote the idea of owning multiple coats by the very nature of the piece, but nowhere does it say that we should have five coats in our wardrobes. Common sense is always needed.
My only criticism is that it is not a capsule collection of five outerwear pieces, covering summer/winter, formal and casual (nod to the caveat at the start of the article about this being coats not jackets!). Certainly my budget/wardrobe can only stretch to that whilst ensuring quality, and five pieces of outerwear is surely enough for most people. Simon, it would be interesting to know what your five pieces would be! Mine would be: linen overshirt, m65 (Real McCoys version with the liner they sell is very useful), raincoat, raglan overcoat, bridge coat.
Thanks John, and perhaps that would make another good piece in the future. Once these basics have been set down, it’s easy to start making multiple lists like that for different situations, people, places.
Common sense is a problematic solution to propose as it is totally subjective and actually means very little. What you consider to be common sense may be very different to what someone else with a different set of values considers it to be. Its not a satifictory response. Just becuase the article does not catagorically state ‘you must own five coats’ it doesnt mean that it wont have a influence on what one might consider an appropriate number.
i am not syaing this is the case with you John but I think people often see raising points such as the one i have here as a damning criticsm or slight at Simon and i am always slightly taken aback at the sometimes scoffing responses any decenting comments get from other readers. Luckily these are often balanced by another reader who gives a measured response considering the issue. Happily the balance generally appears to be about 50/50 but i often feel accutely aware of the suspected political leanings of the majority of readers when a more contentious or meaningful discussion is had.
I have 20 coats+jackets ☺️
Me too…They all get worn and I haven’t bought a coat for 10 years at least. It seems to me that if you carry out any outdoor sport/ pursuit the number of garments required increases dramatically. YMMV
Clothes aren’t ‘consumed’ when they’re re-sold.
They’re consumed when they go to landfill.
I didn’t read this as a ‘you must own these five coats or you’re deficient’ article.
It’s about thinking through how you might choose a coat given your life and tastes.
TBF, this is a blog about nice objects. What do readers who complain about posts about objects want it to be about instead?
I dont think thats correct that its not counted until they are landfill. The issue occurs at the point at which it is produced. Buying something only to not use it and then throw it away or resell it is an issue in that it either uses a resource to produce through bespoke or made to order or increases sales figures on RTW therefor encourgaing further production and possibly watse in future seasons. To buy something and not use it or under use it is over consumption regardless if you sell it on or it goes to landfill.
I also dont think the original comments was a complaint as such but more an observation. I dont think Ian was saying he doesnt want to read posts about coats but its the content, centiment and impact of the article he was commenting on. I would consider this site to be more than ‘a blog about nice objects’ and the comments are often where the most thoghtful content appears.
I don’t want to be in a state akin to Maoist China where we have dictates regarding only one winter coat, one jacket….PS blog shows what’s out there in a considered way & it’s for you to control your consumerism.
Yes totally agree.
Having been fortunate to have lived a long life so far I have accumulated many fine/expensive pieces. The coats are classic, well made and in a number of cases lasted me at least 1/2 a lifetime. I have 5 coats that are 25-30 years old, still almost like new, cashmeres, Burberry balmacaan, Austrian Loden, and yes out of boredom have purchased new items along the way. I still love wearing my ‘antiques’ and I will possibly pick up another coat or two along the way when something ‘new’ catches my eye. But then why not? It is my money, my life and it brings me joy.
Great that you are content to own two coats and no more but it is no business of anyone’s to comment on the number of coats in another’s wardrobe, that smacks of ill mannered virtue signaling.
Warren, I think your comment is more ill-mannered that nearly all comments on here actually. Please don’t accuse other people of things like that with so little to go on.
Let’s keep it friendly and generous please.
As the moderator why publish a comment that you vehemently oppose, to then pan it in the name of civility?
I don’t vehemently oppose it Warren. I think you’re reading too much emotion into it.
In terms of why publish it, often I find it’s helpful to post comments that are marginal as to tone, and comment on them, so that other readers see where the line is roughly being drawn. No one sees them if they’re not published
I don’t get how you could possibly think about “overconsumption” on PS. (to maintain the much respected civility in the comments section, I edited this first phrase 15 times before settling on the above…)
Men’s tailoring and overconsumption? Wanna see something to complain about? Something catastrophically wasteful and outright criminal?
Balenciaga’s knitwear on Mr. Porter. 1200euros! Then check out Balenciaga’s commitment to sustainability, climate change and all the rest on their site.
What’s worse? the executives that came up with this? Or the people who actually buy it? Black market organ harvesting seems less egregious.
I thoroughly enjoyed this article on coats. And I can’t wait to get an Ulster in British warm like the Ciardi above. Yes, I do feel for the poor sheep sheared on my behalf, all naked and cold somewhere in Australia, but its either them or my fifth winter coat I’ve saving up for. No contest!
Wonderful CG, always good to have perspective. And thank you for the consideration of the editing.
Just to reassure you, the sheep will be shedding the fleece anyway in preparation for a hot Australian summer, so no need to worry.
Simon, I saw a short news segment not too long ago. It was about a surplus of wool in Australia and the struggle farmers there were having due to the lack of demand for suits over the last 18 months or so.
Do you have any insight into what is happening with the wool market? Have prices collapsed (due to over supply) and has this a meant there’s been a big opportunity for clothes makers to make more things from wool/merino more cheaply? I browsed the J.Crew website recently and was pleasantly surprised to see alot of wool knitwear, overshirts/chore shirts and merino sweatshirts and even jogging bottoms. I don’t remember seeing that much in previous years (admittedly I’ve never bought anything there but have been in their shops a few times when they were in London)..
One worry I’d have is if a surplus remains, that herds get culled/scaled back and in following years wool will become very expensive making 100% wool items less accessible and seeing co’s use blends more.
I’d love to see more 100% wool clothing in casual wear and for socks (so hard to find in 100% merino), sportswear , thermals etc.
I don’t know anything about that Con I’m afraid, no
Has no one noticed wool being used to insulate chilled & frozen food deliveries. There is a surplus bi product delivery & some are not suitable for clothing. It is then compostable as that Balenciaga knitwear should be – immediately.
Thankfully the price for raw wool fleece is rising and the farmers can perhaps begin to make a return on their hard work and no longer have to compost all that unsaleable raw wool.
That Balenciago is lacking authenticity – needs a few tufts of straw poking out from underneath. Also some matted dog-hair from the cur sleeping on it the night before
“five coats might seem like a lot…” I think a perspective might be useful: the automobile.
Most people commute to work in car – we can assume. Yes, five coats could be seen as a bit much because long overcoats are hardly justified with a heated car and heated workplace. Getting in and out of a car with any below the knee coat is irritatingly cumbersome when you have less than a few minutes walk before you’re in a heated environment again.
Until recently, I commuted by car and had just two coats, which were hardly used. Once I got rid of the car and chose to walk to work and everywhere else, the overcoats just increased in my closet because of need. Even raincoats increased because they would get soaked through and needed a day or two to dry completely. So having two or three are handy when it’s pouring for a week straight. Coat length becomes more important when your walking far more than driving. In fact, longer coats are impractical for any long period of time in a car, and I suspect that’s why most brands seemed to have shortened their winter coats in general.
I suspect that this post refers to life in a city versus the life of a suburbanite, and pointing out that this article could encourage over consumption probably misses the key point that there are also many people who do, in fact, live in a city where you just walk so much more and where overcoats have a significant practical application.
So, no I don’t think having five coats is a sign of over consumption.
Nicely put CG, though actually I don’t know anyone that commutes to work by car
I’m not sure presently more people commute by car to work. Besides those that do probably don’t need coats to commute. But they are not always at work or in a car & on such occasions if required they may wear coats. Horses for courses. Most PS readers require coats at some point be it two or five. This article as ever isa helpful guide.
For anyone on a tight budget and only able to afford one nice coat, I wholeheartedly recommend a navy raglan. As you say Simon, the dark color makes it okay with formal suits while the lack of structure is great even for something as casual as a hoody, jeans and sneakers. The absence of shoulder seams also makes it easy to get a good fit off the rack. Get one that goes at least to knee-length for warmth and that dramatic swoosh when worn open! Having said all that, admiring your Liverano and Ciardi db overcoats may have convinced me to commission one…
Nice points on a navy raglan, yes
Bought one recently & have to agree.
That is true in theory. However navy raglans of acceptable quality that reaches the knee is not easy to find off the peg, in my experience
Berg & Berg have what looks like a lovely navy raglan this season.
Yes, I agree. Their winter offering is lovely, well priced and classic. Their heavier double breasted look very nice too. If I were getting started with quality overcoats, I would definitely check them out. Glad I discovered them through PS.
Can you recommend one?
Great list. I make do with just three at the moment: a category 2 (grey wool raglan, smart enough to wear with tailoring when required), a category 3 (olive single breasted cotton mac), and a 4 (country style practical coat). I’d have loved a navy 1 and a more casual tweed 2, but at the time of purchase could only stretch to a single piece, and so decided to render the 2 in a smarter fabric for double duty!
I’d suggest a Barbour as a casual coat (number 4 in your list) – they look better worn in, can readily go with suits for a rus in urbe look, or with jeans at the weekend.
It’s a nice comprehensive list, albeit a bit too formal for the modern wardrobe IMO. In the 13 years I’ve been working in the City, I have seen a double breasted coat worn maybe once…I have one, but just cannot get myself to wear it because I will look odd. I am also surprised you haven’t included a technical jacket as a ‘must-buy’ (I know you mention a parka as an option)? I would think the practical benefits of weather proofing with the light weight should trump the aesthetic compromise. Besides you get a lot of good looking ones now, and you see them mixed and matched with tailoring on IG/lookbooks.
If you live somewhere that’s very cold in the winter, as in below zero for long periods, then yes a technical piece like a parka is a requirement for warmth.
However, a waterproof light layer really isn’t. I see so many people in London wearing Gore-Tex jackets with chinos and shirts on their daily commutes. They look out of place, sound horrible and rustly, and really aren’t needed. A wool coat can get wet, indeed very wet, and it’s absolutely fine. People just don’t realise this. Their Gore-Tex is also useless on their legs when it does rain.
On a DB overcoat, try wearing it with the collar up, perhaps open, with a loose scarf, and just with knitwear, trousers and boots. In a similar manner to the polo coat pictured top – but of course, easier in a darker colour.
An overcoat doesn’t have to look that formal at all, and it’s such a pleasure to wear. A much easier way to dress up a little than wearing a jacket, too.
I know what you mean re gore tex jackets, that it not a great look, but sadly that is the norm. I was referring to the more menswear-palatable technical jackets. So say the ones Saman Amel does, or RRL I think, or Albam or even Drake’s sometimes. There are several menswear/fashion forward brands embracing technical fabrics. Even SEH Kelly did a piece a season or two ago. I find those kinds of jackets very, very practical. I know wool can get wet, but these jackets weigh a fraction, dry ten times as fast, have better heat retention, and can be packed in tight…I mean its so well suited to a modern European lifestyle, it should be a no brainer. I have one from Mackintosh (not the bonded cotton, but some synthetic mix) which I find very useful. Btw that rustly-ness is the same with bonded cotton, if not worse, and to some degree with my PWVC ventile Mac too. So I have just come to accept it.
Thank you re advice on double breasted, I shall give it a go.
Zo, those points all make sense. I would just say be careful how much priority you give to convenience. That path leads to backpacks (no hands), all synthetic materials (dries, waterproof etc), trainers and much else. There’s nothing wrong with any of those things, but there is little pleasure in them as materials, and they’re rarely look good in my view, except as a temporary fashion look.
That emphasis on convenience is also what drives people to buy more, rather than repair things, and indeed to buy things that don’t need looking after well or repairing. Indeed, it’s what drives Amazon and many other things in modern society.
Again, nothing wrong with convenience, but always be aware what you’re sacrificing by prioritising it. If you’re sacrificing a beautiful, natural, characterful material for a piece of plastic, just because it dries faster, then I’d suggest the balance is wrong.
Agreed, there is always a balance with these things. But hey, you guessed it Simon, I like backpacks too! Although a little tasteful (I hope) with my Mismo M/S. And yes, need to be wary wearing it with expensive tailoring. But in my head, it just makes sense. Trainers make practical sense too – more comfort, less maintenance, light weight, waterproof, no need for silly swims…but the aesthetic compromise is far too much. I’m not quite there…not yet…
Oh good. As I said Zo, just be aware of what you’re giving up every time. Most of what we write about on PS can’t be achieved with pieces and materials like that
I have a bespoke cashmere coat, unlined in a double face material. Really precious thing. But on a daily basis I wear an UBR parka that has a navy wool on the outside with some membrane bonded on the inside. Completely waterproof and light. No noises when worn and highly practical with two kids below the age of three. Compared to a bespoke cashmere coat it will loose. But compared to all the off the peg things worn in reality certainly not the worst thing around. Just my 2 cents wrt technical clothing.
Sounds nice Vicky
As someone who owns many DB suits and a couple of DB coats, my experience is that the primary obstacle to wearing DBs is mental. I believe the key to looking good and comfortable in a DB jacket or coat is to wear it with nonchalance. (I find this is generally true with anything you wear but even more so with DBs.) Put it on and forget completely about it: don’t worry about how it’s buttoned, or if it’s buttoned at all, flip up the collar of the coat. If you look comfortable people will see that and appreciate the style. If you look uncomfortable, like you are wearing a costume or if the jacket or coat is wearing you, that is when I think you risk standing out.
I would have to say its versatility depends on the coat itself. I have two DB overcoats, below the knee length. The first one is a 6×2 which I don’t consider very versatile. Not only because it’s black, I also find that the overlap it has is a little too much to wear open, too much fabric flapping around.
The other one is a navy 6×1, and I feel like the smaller overlap makes it much more versatile. From wearing it open with jeans, boots and knitwear all the way to closed with a full suit, tie and oxfords. It’s without a doubt my favourite piece of clothing.
Thank you Simon and everybody contributing with interesting thoughts . On this post and in general on PS.
Regarding the “gore tex”-argument and limiting purchases:
I work in a smart casual environment and bike to work, dropping of my children on the way. During autumn I used to put on an old Hugo Boss slim fit “performance cotton” rain coat on top of my sport coat when it looked like rain. I had bought the rain coat when at university and have been tired of it for several years. My wife calls it “the boring accountant coat”. So I was considering replacing it. But I didn’t have the money to buy something nice.
Then I stumbled across this Drake’s lookbook: https://www.drakes.com/dk/editorial/drake-s-on-the-jurassic-coast/
Inspired by it, this fall I tried layering sweatshirts and sweaters under my sport coat instead of layering a rain coat on top of it, keeping a thin rubber rain poncho in my backpack – sorry Simon 🙂 – in case of any serious rain. I found that my wool sport coats could take much more rain and dried quicker, than I had expected.
So I postponed the purchase of a rain coat and used that outfit until it was cold enough to switch to a woollen raglan coat.
This Drake’s piece changed my idea of which pieces can be used as outerwear, just like many PS posts and reader comments have regarding other aspects. So, thanks everybody.
I agree that this article overstates the versatility of the DB overcoat. Here in America, it’d look odd in any setting less formal than a corporate office with a real suit culture or a formal event. A single-breasted is a much more versatile option. Just look through photos from the past few presidential inaugurations.
Thanks Ben. I’m surprised you use politicians as an example of something that is stylish, though? At their best, most just strive to look like everyone; and at their worst they just look sloppy.
There are always exceptions, but as a class I wouldn’t say it’s where I would look.
I agree Simon, politicians look almost always sloppy. But I am pretty sure they (and their entourages) work a lot on that “look” too cause they don’t want to stand out above their average voter.
Exactly. If you consider the piece we did recently on dressing for yourself or others, politicians are aiming for the mean. Most stylish men are aiming one standard variation or two away from that
Oh I referred to the inauguration because it’s a much photographed large outdoor gathering in the winter where formalwear is expected, so you see a lot of overcoats (Bernie meme notwithstanding). If you look through those pictures you’d rarely see a db coat. It’s definitely above the single standard deviation threshold, which is around where I like to be when it comes to broad strokes like coat model. I’m more keen on refining the finer details like fit and coordination.
I honestly don’t think even the so called stylish politicians dress(ed) very well—JFK inclusive (gasp).
I have a grey DB, knee length, overcoat that has a removable gilet. I find it works really well with the gilet for casual wear and without the gilet for more formal wear.
I think overcoats in an area where black is a useful colour. I have both a black peacoat and duffle(military surplus) and consider they work well with most things-lifting the smartness.
Interesting, thanks Peter. I’ve always found black a bit too harsh in a coat – good for some outfits in the same way black suede shoes can be, but not great with any warmer colours, or strong colour at all. Do you find you don’t wear those kinds of colours much?
I have a black overcoat (bought off the rack at a huge discount) and find it one of my most useful coats. It is for formal outfits only (wear it pretty much every day to work for much of winter), but given everything above the knee is covered, the colours of eh underlying outfit don’t really matter much. I should note that I have black hair and am not Caucasian, so black clothing naturally works better for me.
Thank you, that’s useful
I’m very much a cold/ neutral guy. I love my browns,greys and tans! I’m not really much of a denim jean wearer so avoid any blue / black clashes. I regularly wear colour in my knitwear,but,by then, the coat is off.
I have brown Harrington for Levi’s /chino days and a navy raincoat, so my basic coats are very similar to your suggestions.
Hi Simon. Is the Monty from Gloverall still your favourite choice for a Duffle coat?
That or the Anderson & Sheppard version – the latter is longer, nicer wool, better made. But the appeal of the Monty is to an extent its rough, casual nature. So it depends what you want. An old Range Rover or a new Audi
Thanks Simon. I find that the Monty’s bright wooden toggles are a little juvenile, and stick out too much against the darker jacket colour options.
Yes, I know what you mean. I think the juvenile association is quite subjective, but darker horn ones certainly escape that
Old Mini or new Mini.
Interesting. I made a similar inspirational roadmap of sorts two weeks ago and had almost same results. I guess I’ve been reading PS too much and have been influenced.
In my list there was:
Brown Ulster coat with trench coat collar, probably bespoke.
Polo coat in camel. RTW or MTO.
Grey raglan coat in oversized PoW check from Fox, probably bespoke.
Charcoral topcoat. RTW or MTO.
Navy or possibly light stone colour single breasted raincoat/mac. RTW.
Optionally one more lightweight coat if I feel I need it, could be brown.
While Duffle coat is really interesting with all the details you can play with, I’ve been brainwashed into thinking it it’s more of a children’s garment.
Yes, I think the fun of the duffle is playing with some of those associations, but that’s not the look everyone wants
I have a few coats – a navy chesterfield, a peacoat, and the PS Donegal tweed. I had a great repro M51, decided the sleeves were too long, took them to be shortened and ended up massively regretting it. Looking forward to when I can rebuy that parka (current batch is a darker green I’m not so keen on).
I’m trying to resist buying a duffle coat right now. I genuinely lack the space for more coats, overpacked as is. I’ll probably buy the Mackintosh Dunkeld at some point but not available right now and I dislike the switch from the grey wool liner to a black one.
I was rather sceptical about navy db’s, but they can be really nice with casualwear. Sure, there is some contrast, but for me it’s part of appeal. It helps that the one I have has almost no structure, but it still looks pretty great to me. I like charcoal for the exact same reason – it might be too smart for PS casual, but the colour looks so good that I don’t mind.
As regards concerns about ‘over consumption’, I do think coats are a little different from most other clothing, being generally robust and long lived outerwear. But the other issue for me is that it is relatively easy to buy very good quality coats second hand and usually for quite modest prices. Alterations are generally quite easy and the joy is that for a modest outlay, one can afford, both financially and environmentally, to be a little more playfull.
Good point Darryl
1. Charcoal is lovely, but I find a little less versatile than navy. A bit smarter
2. They’re different styles – one a bit smarter, but more importantly different looks. If having less than five, one of these could definitely go. But it’s nice to have something which is definitely more casual as an option
3. An ulster is just a version of a DB overcoat really
Thank you for a great article Simon. Can I ask how you commute to London in the winter time if you are wearing a DB overcoat? Do you take public transportation? I
ve always thought that Id rather not wear e.g. a bespoke overcoat on a public tram/subway carriage (exuse me for saying this) as these “vehicles of transportation” are often rather nasty/dirty – which would require frequent dry cleaning which would affect the coats longevity etc. etc.:-)
I commute on the train and tube, and it’s fine.
If you’re concerned, brush the coat down every week or so, to remove any surface dirt. But unless you sit in non-dried chewing gum or something, you’ll be fine.
I’ve got a follow-up question to that; I’m hopefully travelling/flying over Christmas and New Years and would love to bring my newly received PSxPW Donegal Raglan coat because the climate where I’m going would normally be perfect for that kind of coat. But how do I bring (or wear) the coat in a good condition on two flights with about 3-4 hours transfer time?
Wearing the coat while sitting on the airplane would be too warm, hanging it on the hanger in front of me would more or less guarantee stains of tomato juice or red wine (from either me or my kid) and stoving it in the over-head compartment would probably mean a complete mess of wrinkles and possibly stains from trolleys. Packing it in a checked bag might be the best alternative but it would occupy quite a lot of space which is needed for clothes and Christmas presents and so on. Any good suggestions to this “1st world” problem of mine?
I usually wear it and fold up fairly carefully in the overhead. But if you can find space, it’s perfectly possible to pack it effectively too
Simon, did you have a chance to take a look at the polo coat that Drake’s have currently available? If so, any comments on it (good or bad)?
I haven’t, no sorry
I saw it and tried it on- such a handsome coat and a very nice length too! I ended up going with a sort of MTM option with Frank Leder but definitely liked the one you mentioned.
Hi, Coincidentally I tried the Drakes Polo Coat yesterday. I found the cloth weight heavy enough for a good drape, but not too heavy. The finish looks highly quality. The flap on the chest pocket looks a little larger than in a previous look book and the Anthology version. Which tends to ‘draw the eye’, not a good or bad thing but worth pointing out. The position of the button to close the lapel across the neck caused the lapel to bulge very slightly on me which may of course not be the case on others. A pretty true to size fit on me, a tad large which is in keeping with the style.
I’m not really an advocate of making more expensive tailoring purchases on-line hence going into the shop and would recommend doing so where possible.
I’m a size 40 jacket, 32 waist and 5/11 height.
All in all – for me – a nice looking coat.
Hope that helps.
P.S Not sure if I can justify buying another winter coat this year myself, unless I follow Simon’s steer to find a new home for an older one!
Great article Simon, thank you. I find this particularly gratifying as initially I thought, ‘only five coats’; who has as many as five?!
But then I find I have every category filled already in almost exactly that order of category – a double breasted smart navy coat for over a suit, your PS Herringbone Donegal, a navy Schott pea coat for casual, the PS blue trench coat, a beige long double breasted trench coat, a grey wax jacket, a green parka and a M65.
Indeed I already have taken your advice of finding a welcome home for old coats (my younger brother) and replacing with higher spec ones.
The question is, do I need a camel polo coat or a top coat…? Are top coats essentially just closer fitting overcoats that go over a suit, or do they replace the suit jacket?
They can do either. But in the spirit of keeping things focused, I’d say you need to give away one of the other seven first!
Ah but I wear them all regularly and now the ones I have ‘spark joy’ so I’m happy keeping them… Might I be so bold as to ask how many coats you have?
Fair enough. Just look after them well!
I have far too many. It’s only justifiable as you see it as the wardrobe of the staff and resources of a small magazine. Which in many ways it is.
Like the justification!
Now if only there were a way I could justify tailoring as tools of the trade (being a city professional….)
May I ask what has become of your navy Cifonelli coat? I believe it was commissioned some years ago and I remember how enamoured you were with it being one of the first pieces from Lorenzo.
If I remember correctly, it was a cashmere blend and I seen to remember you mentioning fearing for its longevity given its frequency of use. Lovely as cashmere/blends feel, how do they hold up over time? I’ve often thought the hairier, rougher tweeds would have a longer life as they are simply a tougher fabric. I’d be interested in hearing your thoughts/experience around the hardiness of different kinds of fabric.
It’s help up very well actually, and was 100% cashmere. Then again, I have rather more coats now than I had then
Great post. As for #1, the double-breasted overcoat in navy, what do you make of Berg & Berg’s Noa Polo Coat, found here:
I’ve always thought it was one of the nicest-looking RTW options available. And, to address another reader’s concerns in this thread, B&B does a good job of styling the Noa casually, confirming its relevance even in today’s less formal dress codes.
That does look nice. I can’t comment more having not tried it in person, but it seems to tick all the boxes
Being a lover of outerwear, I’m really glad to see this post!
I remember you writing about structure a while back.If I remember correctly, it was along the lines of (more) structure being proportionate with formality.
Since getting your body coat from MB, has this opinion changed at all?
Whilst his designs are sharp, I was really surprised to find minimal padding in his shoulders vs C&M and Sexton.
More structure does normally mean something looks more formal, yes. However, cut is just as important if not more so, and with Michael that makes his coats formal
Most men have overcoats sleeves that are too long. The look has been ingrained since school days.
I do enjoy these sort of articles, it does make you really think about what you have and what you should have available.
I have two top coats (one in a mild brown and the other black) and a Barbour Jacket, and I really don’t feel that they suit every occasion. I rely heavily on the Barbour for too much when it’s a casual setting.
From your point of view which would be more suitable, a rain coat or a raglan coat?
I am wanting to replace the black top coat with a navy double-breasted coat anyway.
Thanks in advance Simon.
I think a raglan would be perfect at sitting between that Barbour and the other two coats.
However, with a rain coat it depends more on how much you find you’re actually in the rain and need that option. I don’t find it’s too often, but you might be different (eg walking a dog every day, or walking further to commute)
You are correct, I spend more time in the car, moving from office to office, than out in the rain really, and like you, I don’t have a need for a hood and prefer a hat or umbrella – the latter is less useful in the Falklands. I do love your Rain Coat though, and have been close to pulling the trigger numerous times.
Do you have any suggestions for Raglan Coats? you mention donegal tweeds and houndstooth being some of the best materials/patterns, where would you suggest to look? Other than your own of course.
I’d look Berg & Berg, Cordings, A&S, Trunk, plus any vintage shop
I can recommend the new long balmacaan at SEH Kelly. It’s chunky and warm, and the design is really cool. Little bit more casual. And if budget doesn’t permit, than I suggest scouring eBay. I have bought (and sold) a good few in search for “the one”.
Not that these aren’t all beautiful, beautiful garments – and I completely understand why you chose them – but it seems to me this is a capsule for the city and arguably three if not four of these are variations on the same theme. Most would be no use at all in the countryside where there is simply no substitute for a good quality hooded waterproof jacket, closely followed by a waxed jacket. The kind of long wool coat you feature here would be nothing but a liability on muddy country lanes and footpaths. For me, living and working in the countryside (and of course visiting town as required), I would want as a minimum a smart wool coat, waxed jacket, insulated Parka (or similar) and hooded waterproof jacket. Personally, I would also not be without a good Ventile jacket (so much more understated than most modern waterproofs and not far off in terms of practicality) so that would be my fifth pick. With these I am equipped through all seasons regardless of the weather, environment or terrain.
True Simon, this does presume at least city working if not city living, mostly.
On the hood, I’d rather have a hat of some sort personally. Peaked or brimmed.
Does anyone have a recommendation for a straight, knee-length raincoat along the lines of this cotton version sold by Mr Porter?
Try the ventile mac at Private White. Not one of my designs, but it’s a great staple, and ventile and cheaper
I am surprised by how many readers say that the DB coat looks odd to them. Working in a relatively casual environment (design office placed inside manufacturing plant) I see many people wearing coats and no one really pays attention if this is a single or double breasted.
Interesting. Thank you. How would you see a greatcoat fitting in with all this. I am eyeing the Private White one. I would have thought that when it gets really cold, these are very practical, indulgent, great-looking and can work with both formal and casual outfits.
I’d say that’s pretty close to being a double-breasted overcoat. Different buttoning, and obviously not made like a tailored coat, but otherwise very similar
What’s the difference between an Ulster coat and a regular DB overcoat ? It seems to m that it is the shape of the lapel but I might be wrong. Btw, is that how you would refer to your wonderful coat from Edward Sexton ?
How would that place in this list ? I believe it would bridge formal and casual.
The lapel shape mostly, yes.
The Sexton is more of a great coat, though as with all categories in this area, they can be as misleading as helpful, given each piece is designed uniquely.
It’s formal though, and structured and dramatic. It certainly doesn’t look casual unfortunately
Simon- Great read. I own the PS Donegal herringbone plus 4 bespoke topcoats including two made from Harris Tweed fabric I purchased in Edinburgh as a teenager studying abroad 30 years ago. I make no apologies for overconsumption as that fabric is older than some of your readers and still going strong. A question which has vexed me has been answered. In your original review of the Saman Amel coat there is a photo of the back showing a raglan sleeve, yet the front is standard inset. Was this some photo trickery? Two different coats? I have never been able to square that until you finally explained above that indeed the coat is raglan only in the back. Is this common? Good stuff as always.
It’s not that common Robert, but you do see it around. The PS Trench Coat has the same construction
Good point on the coats’ age too. Four bespoke topcoats seems a lot, until you consider how much other people would normally buy in the same period (and of course they have to buy more, because the coats don’t age as well)
Another interesting article.
I would add in a waxed Belstaff to casual. I remember you pointing out once it couldn’t be worn over a jacket but that aside I find it a little more edgy (less country, more urban) than a Barbour. A comment was made regarding a navy raglan overcoat, I too have one (Caruso for Trunk) four years old that gets a lot of use every winter.
On a different note, I’m not sure why some comments get so emotive about so called over consumption. Your blog is highly principled and does not (unlike many others on Instagram in particular) cynically ‘push product’. It’s worth directing these commentators to the ‘About Permanent Style’. You are to be applauded for the high regard in which you obviously hold your readers. In this article, as is the case with many others, you provide a view and over the years have introduced us to brands we might not otherwise have heard about, people can’t take it or leave it. I would suggest the majority of your readers a sufficiently mature to be informed, rather than overly influenced.
Anyhow, in a capitalist society, things are made and people consume them, it drives growth, which funds the welfare states that so many of your readers enjoy.
I would like to add a very positive call-out for Marktt. They make higher end items more accessible, provide an outlet for things we have tired off, or outgrown, generate a bit of cash to use how we see fit and the service is excellent. Well done Lewis.
Looking forward to hopefully dropping into the pop up shop next week (masks at the ready!) and driving a bit of consumer recovery. Now please lets get back to talking about clothes. Which is why I for one read PS. Keep up the great work.
Its only human psyche to want nice pretty things. Yes PS doesn’t actively encourage buying loads, quite the opposite. But each time we see Simon in a shiny new jacket, or see his xmas list, or s/s top 10, it’s only natural to think ‘ah, iwoot’. Think about it really, how much clothing do we really really need? Keyword = need. And the answer is not an awful lot. The rest are just ‘nice to haves’. You can justify however you like (reflect to other bloggers, talk about one’s hand-me-down coat)…but the truth is to some degree we’re all guilty of over-consumption.
Hi Simon….the issue I have always found with overcoats is that they have never been warm enough on colder autumn or winter days. However most of my coats have been from Reiss or the like with no more than 60-70% wool and medium weight at best. Would I notice a significant difference in warmth if I were to get say a 750 gsm coat of 100% wool or wool/cashmere blend? Agree with your points on parka style and tailoring but am seriously considering an Arcteryx Therme Parka to stay warm! Thanks Colin
I think you would Colin, yes. Get a heavier weight, get it double breasted perhaps, and get it a good bit below the knees.
And if you’re going to get a parka, at least get something that’s not synthetic on the outside, like a ventile
Thanks Simon, yes there is the Private White Frobisher! I’m not surprised this post has generated so much discussion; I myself have far more coats than jackets and I think people underestimate how impactful and flexible a good coat, of any style can be, provided the colour is appropriate
A very interesting article since im a great fan of coats. My lifestyle though is a little different as most of the readers o suppose since i wear a jacket not more than 2-3 times a year( i have a brown bespoke that suits me good) and i wear at most chinos, grey trousers and rarely jeans. I have a vintage army coat similar to yours wich i found for 60 euro in a war shop in Amsterdam and it accidentaly was my size. I have a black single breasted coat with a technical fur colar that i bought from Zara this year( i wasnt really thinking id wear that much) that makes a statement and is black. Then i have a Barbour in brown that looks better everyy year but i wax it every 2-3 years. I am about to make a bespoke coat for next year( ill start it now but im not in a hurry). Would you find a dark brown double breasted too much for my usualy informal style ? And would you play a little with the back or leave it simple ?
I think you’re best looking at a raglan coat, like the Donegal we feature here or similar. That’s going to be more useful, yet still stylish and elegant, than a DB coat probably
May i ask what color are you planing for the next season for the donegal ? I was at the list but id prefer a charcoal or dark brown
I don’t know I’m afraid George. We won’t decide until the Spring
Did you mention elsewhere that you are considering an early order for next year’s iteration? I’d certainly be interested in that as well.
This year’s was such a beautiful design; I agree that something similar in charcoal would be excellent.
Thank you, yes we are. There won’t be news on that until the Spring though
Three questions if you’d be kind enough to entertain them:
1. Coat sleeve length: I imagine to heighten warmth and protection from the elements coat sleeves ought to extend beyond jacket and shirt sleeves. Is this a studied and elegant approach?
2. Imagine you’re going to the opera in evening wear and the temperature has reached -15C. Navy Double Breasted? Or would charcoal be more appropriate to wear over black tie? Or perhaps I ought to jump straight to an expedition down suit from The North Face?
3. With a navy (or perhaps charcoal) DB Overcoat, what’s the last formal outfit you’d feel comfortable wearing? Jacket? Knitwear and trousers?
1. Yes, that’s the more traditional length. It should still cover your shirt when you raise your arm (eg holding an umbrella)
2. Charcoal would be best…
3. Knitwear and trousers is fine. Shirt, great crewneck, tailored trousers
Thanks for your advice! I appreciate you reading through my typos.
I have navy single breasted wool coat, a navy DB wool coat and a navy aspesi raincoat. Sounds boring perhaps…but I like navy. 🙂
And of course, I also have an olive parka in the weekends. Perfect when you want to look like Liam Gallagher. 😉 The old dream of being a rockstar is still in me even if I’m 40 and work in suits almost every day, haha. 🙂
Simon, in your experience, what are the key differences between military surplus trench coats and those inspired by them but made for non-military wearing.
I like the idea of getting a military one but they always look a bit out of place and costumey, but I can’t put my finger on what the differences are.
If the differences are the kind I could make through some alterations maybe it would be worth giving it a go.
I feel like it would slot into the Macintosh slot in the capsule.
I haven’t owned military trench coats, so it’s hard to say I’m afraid. I think the key thing would be just to watch out for details and sizing that look non-contemporary. But alterations would help with the latter
1) The debate about consuming brought me back to an older beautiful article of yours which I was re-reading lately:
„The consumerist urge will fade, and give way to a far richer, more rewarding period in your life filled with easy, simple elegance.“
Did you find your urge faded as well or could it not, simply because it is a new job-driven urge? Would you sometimes prefer, for whatever reason, that it could have faded like you suggested towards Reader in your article?
2) One of my favourite meanswear pieces is a DB ulster coat. Would you wear yours from Liverano and Ciardi with jeans? If I absolutely want to wear my (charcoal herringbone) Ulster with jeans, I guess a shirt shoulder construction would help to bring the coat more towards casual. What do you think about those spalla camicia constructions on a DB overcoat in general?
1) Interesting point. I think it has to an extent, yes, but it can never completely go because it is my job to cover anything that’s new, even if it’s just a case of knowing what current versions there are of something from a few years ago. And yes, sometimes I do wish it were different
2) I wouldn’t wear them with jeans mostly. If I did, it would be something like white jeans, or dark indigo perhaps without a turn-up. Smarter versions of, basically
I don’t mind the shirt shoulder on a coat, though I don’t really wear it myself, and it will make less of a difference on a coat than a jacket, just because there’s so much coat
What really works better there is the raglan option
Nice article Simon! I wonder if there is any liner available for the PWCV macs? If not, your trench and the balmacaan from Anglo seem to be the only ones that cover that aspect. I was so close to pull the trigger on the trench, as you launched the Donegal Coat. Seen, ordered, received!!! So beautiful. The material feels so comfy end soft yet sturdy. It sits beautifully over a sports coat. Really loving it!!! (Btw- my second coat alongside a paper thin cotton rain coat, which got me through several winters putting style over warmth:)
Guess with the trench my capsule would be complete for years…
Sorry so that many words… happy me writing! Regards
If you had to recommend one , just one , that could go over a suit and also be worn without a jacket underneath which one ?
p.s. I’m guessing the raglan with its unstructured shoulder
Hi Simon, interesting debate on this post and so many comments . Just on a sort of related light hearted point – is it a record/personal best?!
Nah, it’s not even in contention until it tops 300… The ‘complete capsule’ has that, as does the shoes chapter of this series.
Five coats would be nice; I have one. It’s a black cashmere trench coat. Not the most versatile but it matches my personal style.
If I get another one, I’ll go for another one in olive/army green and in cotton to make it wearable in spring and autumn.
My third choice would be an Ulster coat.
Excellent article, and ensuing discussion!
I find that 3 coats cover virtually all of my needs, though admittedly stop short of the highest levels of formality. In particular I have a long DB overcoat similar to Simon’s Liverano, but in a dark green tweed and with more streamlined details, which has proven to be astonishingly versatile. A waxed cotton and a warmly lined leather jacket round out the 3. The only thing lacking is a coat truly at home with eveningwear, though even then the DB doesn’t feel wildly out of place.
As far as I’m concerned, with the large variety of styles and choices of cloth, it would be difficult to have too many coats. Money would be the only limit, albeit one that only slows the pace of accumulation rather than stopping it.
I find myself torn between getting a specific colour in single or double breasted.
Simon, what are your thoughts on peak lapels? Primarily on double-breasted coats, of course. Trends seem to run towards more of the spread, polo coat style rather than peak.
Yes I think that type of peak is nicest. You don’t lose much in style but it’s less showy and more practical when you have the collar up too
Very nice post. As for the point about parka not working with tailoring for you – what’s you take on Rocky Mountain Featherbed Parka Mark Cho promotes here? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1GR4koM_FCQ&t=83s
To be honest I don’t like that style I’m afraid. If it blisteringly cold and wet, and you need to dress a jacket underneath, then fine, but otherwise I wouldn’t wear it.
Simon, Maybe it’s my imagination but when you post on a particular topic, in this case on coats it seems to have the effect of other people who I respect and follow on Instagram posting on the same topic. The coats theme in the last few days is noticeable. I say that as a compliment to you and the wide influence you have, but additional images and ideas just add to the richness of the topic. Again, maybe it’s pure coincidence !!
I hadn’t thought about that Thomas. I guess it is the season for it, but I wouldn’t be surprised if it has some effect as well
Regarding the number of coats one needs, much depends on where and how you live. The temperature, precipitation, and humidity variations during fall and winter on the US East Coast–thinking here of the corridor from Washington, DC to Boston, would seem to necessitate multiple outer garments. Add to this the dressed-up formality of a suit or the “casual” outfit of just a jacket and trousers, and what to wear can become complicated. My solution has been to acquire several reversible raglan coats, with one side “formal” in grey or darker tweed, the other side made from weather-resistant cotton or gabardine in a lighter color. Such coats are not easy to find. Cordings and from New and Lingwood stock them in London (or did in 2019); J. Press usually has some in their stores as well. Be aware that you may need a good tailor to make adjustments to have the coat hang properly. I also once found on sale a marvelous reversible all-black coat, made of Loro Piana “storm system” fabrics. One side is cashmere, with makes the coat both extremely lightweight but remarkably warm.
‘If you only had five coats’ ….. you would have five more than the young people I see walking around shivering in hoodies and ‘warm up’ jackets.
Seriously, I do own five coats and bar one (the covert coat) they are all in the categories cited in your article and all over ten years old. Buy decent ethically made clothing that lasts and you’re on the rig(t side of the consumption issue.
You mean “if you could only have five coats”. That would be quite the dilemma, especially if we are not excluding all the sports and travel outerwear jackets all of which have their special requirements and trade-offs in terms of fit, function, materials and quirks. Between sailing, golfing, cycling, fishing, hunting, skiing, hiking and general travel all for at least two seasons if not three, we are easily easily talking 15-20 without touching on any city essentials For me that is already more like 30 garments. They all get used, some are 30+ years old. I am not counting my driving leather jackets and bombers. No way.
So let’s get to coats, by which I imagine top garments of at least thigh if not calf length. You have to have both a heavy and a lightweight raincoat, that is a given. The removable liner one is clever, I have the old Burberry trench with the attachable wool collar as well as lining, but it really is too heavy a coat even without the liner if it is the least bit warm. Heck, it already is a lined coat. The woollen liner is just an additional button in sleeveless coat. Then also, who would have only a blue or tan raincoat? One or the other will be totally wrong depending what else you are doing/wearing even if tan is forgiven in the city…by some. A favourite is a packable ( by which I mean folds into its own zipper as a packet) Herno in navy. Super lightweight. But then, while a long raincoat is essential for actually spending time in the rain, shorter versions are essential for driving and train travel where a long garment is very inconvenient. So you need shorter ones as well, both thigh length (typical car coat) for formal and outdoorsy parkas. Then you get to dress and country coats. You need a charcoal or navy one and a tan or brown one at a minimum, sized to go over your suit or sports jacket. And you need both in darker and in earthier tones depending upon sporty or more formal occasions. In climates with seasons both heavy and lighter weight ones will be needed, in serious cold climates, very heavy and fur collared if not fur lined also will be needed as. I could go on, but that would be labouring the point: five might be a number for travel, or a fun “what would I do if I had to choose”question, but for any half way complete wardrobe, if you wish to dress in both an appropriate and coordinated manner, it is your non-starter for 5.
And then of course, if you actually like clothes and are constantly looking for different and better, you will have multiple and slightly or greatly different multiple examples within all categories, new and old (er, « vintage »). Waiting for the aficionado’s article: what if I had to cut back to 50 coats!
A thoughtful and thought provoking article – as usual on your web site. I wanted to offer my perspective after 60 odd years of different coats and changing styles. I would agree with your categories, although I might make slight changes. And perhaps the nomenclature differs. So here are my categories as per your list of five and the coats that have stuck with me as I jouneyed through life:
As a summary, I seem to have kept the overcoat, rain coats for decades – and the car coats for years – and to have played with changing fashions in the jackets.
I take it the Burberry/Aquascutum trenchcoat would fit into item 3 in your article as a raincoat.
Also, any comment on waxed cotton and its ability to mark eg car seats with the “wax hard to remove? Had one in bomber jacket for motorcycle use and found it blackened the gunny/rucksack straps and could not be removed.
Yes it would.
I haven’t had that issue, no
You’re discussing this as though owning five coats is a Biblical Disaster. Five coats are a perfectly good number to own.
If you own less – fabulous. If you own more, then good for you.
Apologies for the slightly tangential question, but I was looking into purchasing the Donegal Overcoat – unfortunately the size isn’t available on your website, however it is available on Private White’s. That said, the coat is around £150 more expensive to purchase from Private White – is there any reason for that? I’m assuming it’s down to covering the Private White’s overhead costs as a retailer, which you don’t have to factor into the cost of the garment.
No Alex, the Private White one just shows VAT from the start, whereas we add it at checkout depending on shipping location.
Ah, I see. Thanks for the clarification, Simon?
No worries Alex – and yes it is Simon, if that’s what the question mark means!
Hah, no – that was just a typo caused by my fat digits.
In regards to no. 5, how do you distinguish between Topcoat and Overcoat? In your use, are there specific distinguishing features that determine which is the appropriate category to place a given coat? And in particular for this article what would differentiate a Topcoat from either the DB Overcoat or Raglan Overcoat territories?
Any practical insight would be appreciated over a traditional/historical approach to the differences.
Have you seen this article on types of coats Ben? That goes through a few of those points
I may have overlooked this article at the time. I will read it on my flight now.
Hi Simon…..further to my previous comment and given we are approaching winter, it would be very useful to post an article on how you wear a Parka, for example your Cabourn Everest in Navy Black. I’m sure readers in parts of the US and Canada would find this of great benefit also. Thanks Colin
Thanks Colin, OK I will try to. The Everest is more of a mid-blue though, by the way
Hi Simon, great article and selection – I agree with some comments above. If only one, it definitely should be a knee-level navy raglan in a mid-weight but still rather substantial wool. I have one from PWVC, heavily used since a good 7-8 years and holding up greatly. Another contender, though to limit only to more casual environments and quite cold season could be a jeep coat (it might be included in your “shearling coats” section). Again, I own one from PWVC, and it is like walking surrounded by a heavy and warm blanket.
Will Crombie ever come back? That had such classic overcoats, especially the King overcoat. It’s very hard to find a double breasted overcoat below the knees today without looking like a Cossack or an SS officer. With temperatures and wind chills in the single digits here in the Northern U.S., you would still think form follows function.
Given the discussion on coats thought this would be a good place to post a question with regard to layering. It’s something that RL & Drake’s have in their lookbooks and Shuhei Nischiguchi (includes in his styling). When putting something on top of a tweed sports jacket for instance, if it was a wax jacket/ wool/ cashmere coat/ trench , I’m always conscious of “crushing” the shoulder of the jacket or feeling too “muffled”? is that normal or how much bigger typically should a jacket on top be in comparison to the jacket under?
Good question Graham. Generally you need an overcoat to be a size bigger in terms of the shoulder width in order to get it over a jacket and not affect the jacket’a shoulders at all.
There’s much more freedom with a softer or raglan coat though, because the coat over the top doesn’t have as much structure.
There’s also an article on this on the site called ‘How an overcoat should fit’ if you want to look it up
What is your thought on Casentino fabric? I am thinking about buying an overcoat in the picture attached here, but I am afraid that Casentino fabric might make it look worn…
I don’t think Casentino looks worn, but it is unusual. It’s noticeably fluffy, and if it weren’t for the fact that fluffy coats are so fashionable at the moment, it would be very unusual
Hi Simon, any recommendations or advice about smart down/insulated jackets? Or, are they a no-go?
This has come up a few times recently Himanshu.
I have an old Nigel Cabourn Everest parka, which I love, and in fact will be covering soon. But I wouldn’t say it’s smart – I wouldn’t wear it with any smart trousers or tailoring. For that, I would always wear an overcoat.
Himanshu, I’ve got an Ubr jacket, https://ubr.no/men.html which was the closest smart insulated jacket I could find. It’s not quite overcoat smart but works when it’s crazy cold and raining.
What do you think of this coat from RingJacket, for a double breasted jacket in your list?
Would it tick all the boxes? What do you think of the lapel/notch shape? Would it still be appropriate for being double breasted, to wear with suits, sports jacket, or more casual styles?
Looks nice. Hard to tell remotely, but it seems to be quite a thick but soft wool. So not super formal in the material, but a nice cut.
It would certainly go with all those things, including probably some casual styles too.
Thank you so much!
What do you think about the button stance? Are there any rules I should consider when looking at the position of the buttons for a double breasted coat, especially the top ones, relationship to the pocket, etc?
That’s rather complicated. I wouldn’t worry too much about it, particularly as the top ones can be moved easily (not being functional). Just consider where you want the waist to be for the middle ones, and take the tailor’s advice on the others.
Would a twill pattern be a good one for a first navy overcoat?
When it comes to overcoats, what is the importance of canvassing? Can the coat rely solely on the thickness of the cloth for structure, or is it better to have at least partial canvassing? Would a full canvas be better than a partial canvas?
Thanks, and Merry Christmas!
Canvas is still important John. Cloth doesn’t have the same firmness as canvas, and that canvas is also stitched and shaped to give particular shape to a coat. Without it, there really is no structure – it’s just about draping material.
I’d also prefer a full canvas, but it is less important in the bottom half of a coat – there its benefit is mostly the sharpness of the edges and smoothness of the front, which is also very much affected by the density and stiffness of the material (more than the weight)
Would the lack of canvas in the bottom half, for example in this Ring Jacket DB coat, make the coat a little more casual in appearance? Or maybe the thickness of the fabric would keep it pretty sharp?
It’s hard to say without seeing the material, but as I said bear in mind that it’s the density and stiffness of the material that keeps something sharp, not necessarily its weight. A covert coat is sharp but not necessarily heavy; a thick cashmere can be heavy but quite spongey. It depends on how it’s woven
I am trying to build a collection of clothing that I can travel with everywhere and have an outfit for every occasion.
For coats, I was thinking of getting a navy trench coat (The one you’ve made) and was wondering what kind of overcoat would be as versatile as the navy trench coat?
Also, if I were to have one suit (I do realize that this is irrelevant to this post), what colour would you go for and what details would this suit have? I wear cold colours for my clothing and black leather shoes.
Hey Kyle – on the suit, you should find everything on the partner piece in this series, on suits. It’s here.
On the coat, it depends a lot on what else you wear. That’s kind of what I’ve tried to cover in this article. It may be a navy wool overcoat, it may be a grey herringbone donegal.
I would need something that can be worn over the suit but dress down to be worn over jeans and a leather jacket with a shirt and tie as well as either tassel loafers, Chelsea boots or split toe derbies in black hatch grain leather.
That’s asking quite a lot Kyle – no pair of shoes would be able to do all of that, for example.
Your best bet is probably the grey herringbone though I think
Would that be a double-breasted overcoat or raglan coat?
In what situations would the grey herringbone double-breasted overcoat work? Also, in what situations would the grey herringbone raglan coat work?
The DB overcoat would be rather smarter, but not as much as the navy given the colour and pattern. I would wear it with everything apart from casual chinos and jeans.
The raglan would go with those casual trousers, and only risk looking a little casual with the smartest of suits. But still, as I’ve mentioned above, it is probably the most versatile of all these coat styles.
Whilst it’s not currently available, what are your thoughts on the Drake’s expedition parka in terms of looks, particularly over the tailoring here?
I like the colour of the pink, though some of the details, such as the contrast tape around the buttons, aren’t my style.
However, overall I just don’t like parkas that much over tailoring. At its best, it’s an unusual high/low kind of look, designed for contrast and a strong impact. But that’s not what guys want everyday if they’re wearing tailoring and it’s very cold. They want an everyday coat, and for that I think it’s best to stick to an overcoat.
Article on my parka (only worn casually) coming soon.
I recently acquired your grey herringbone raglan with PWVC but I’ve always admired your Connolly herringbone coat.
I’m not sure if you saw the new colour in store but they’ve now did it in a blue herringbone-https://www.connollyengland.com/collections/jackets/products/oversized-herringbone-coat-blue?variant=40678092996792
I’m trying to justify getting this given I have your grey herringbone already albiet they are different styles- db vs single, raglan vs drop shoulder, blue herringbone vs grey etc
Given you have both, can you share some insight into how much different those 2 questions are?
Is it an overkill to have 2 herringbone coats in a wardrobe for an average person?
To be honest Pat, yes I think it is. I think you should avoid it, and get the style in a different colour and material some time in the future
Simon, I am surprised there is no “If you only had five trousers:. . .” I hope you do one!
Good point. Would you want one more aimed at tailored trousers, or casual ones?
I think it needs to be split into seasons and casual/tailored. Otherwise what you’d get is grey flannels/heavy jeans or chinos for winter, linen/lightweight wool or light chino for summer and shorts.
I’m pretty set with my trousers, but still curious.
Second this – I would love one! Most especially one that covers the odd jacket smart-casual spectrum, is grounded in flexibility and calls back to other great posts that show how things can move across “what office are you” scales (like that showed the impact of changing flannels—>chinos—> jeans…; but what other options are there? How does cord, serge or cavalry twill fit it? What colours and fabrics are most useful?)
I can’t help but feel that I’m missing a trick as my wardrobe has jeans, smart chinos and a few grey flannels; but I’m at a loss for where to branch into next and often end up in the same few combinations.
Speaking for myself, I mainly need advice on trousers worn with odd jackets. For example, I once bought worsted navy trousers only to find that they were much less versatile than I expected. I bought them before reading one of your articles in which you discuss why that can be the case. I have two odd jackets (plain light grey hopsack and a navy hopsack blazer). I am not sure where to go with trousers.
There are a few articles on that already Ronald – search ‘trousers with jackets’
Exactly what I was looking for. Thank you!
Both are good quality, and both would be quite versatile for their style. But the Drake’s one is significantly more casual. It wouldn’t work with a really smart suit, and the Anglo wouldn’t with very casual clothing, workwear etc. So I would pick between those two depending on which best covers the clothes you wear
Probably, yes, or at least that raglan style in general
Great article as per usual Simon. I particularly like your Balmacaan recommendation, but struggle to find one with a belt. Any recommendations? Colour wise I prefer that classic camel colour, and preferably no more expensive than something like Drake’s Raglan coat! Thanks in advance
I don’t know anything that fits that bill exactly I’m afraid. Worth looking at Berg & Berg though
Thanks for the recommendation, Simon! The raglan sleeve coat that Berg & Berg makes is exactly what I’m looking for, albeit in camel or light brown. Cheers!
Dear Simon. What brands are considered as the better brands for Wax jacket in a heritage sense? Is there other brands beside (Private, Grenfell; Barbour) that are high end and recommended?
I haven’t tried many I’m afraid. I don’t know what the quality or value of Belstaff is like these days for instance
Right on. You should make Tony Sylvester or yourself do a history guide on the wax jacket – would be an amazing read.
Nice idea. We did cover a bit of that when we visited Barbour’s archive a while ago, in case you didn’t see that.
Between the raglan coat, duffle coat and parka, which is more versatile for both casual and formal wear as well as the city and the countryside?
I’m not sure any coat will rely cross all of those uses. But I’d say probably the raglan
Let me slightly rephrase: not so much with formal clothes like suits, but smart casual up to a sports coat. And by raglan did you mean something like this: https://www.permanentstyle.com/2020/09/introducing-the-new-donegal-coat.html
OK, understood. And yes I did
Simon – for that first bespoke navy overcoat to be worn over a suit, but have that versatility to go over dark denim or chinos on the weekend, what are your thoughts on two things:
1. Cloth looks great, though if you want to wear it with chinos and denim I’d go for a pure wool and ideally have a bit more texture, like a visible twill. Less of the soft cashmere look.
2. No, I’d go ulster if you want to wear it casually. And definitely below the knee – above the knee is both less flattering (on most men) and impractical
Hi Simon, do you think the collar of the coat from A&S in the link below would make it look smarter and less versatile than the PS coat?
I wouldn’t say it would look much smarter, no. I prefer our collar of course, but that’s because I like those proportions
Thanks, Simon. So are they just different styles which won’t hugely affect the formality of the look?
I really like this series of articles.
Though, I find five coats to be somewhat excessive, I am missing an article about five jackets (“Jacken” in German), which excludes blazers/tailored jackets.
The following springs to my mind: (i) A dark-brown suede blouson, (ii) a navy safari jacket, (iii) a peacoat – which I would not qualify as a classical coat but as a jacket -, (iv) a service jacket and (v) a down jacket.
But it would be great to have your thoughts in an article on this.
Thanks Markus, that sounds interesting. Basically five casual jackets/coats…
I think so, yes. My categorization is somewhat based in the German language, where we divide (i) coats (Mäntel), basically everything reaching at least mid-tigh and usually with a suit-like collar (ii) tailored jackets/blazers (Sakkos) and (iii) casual jackets (Jacken). I find the last category is the most diverse and most worn one and it would be great to have an article on that.
It’s actually a more helpful distinction than ours I think – where the two types of jacket are mixed
It is interesting how language forms perception and sometimes reality. That is why I was confused when starting reading your webpage about (formal) jackets, which apparently derives from the German word „Jacke“ (like so many English words do) but has taken on a different meaning.
To add to the confusion, since the end of WWII, we have adopted and continue to adopt many English words into German, often corrupting their original meanings (again thinking of „blazers“ but there are many, many examples).
Yes, language is a beautiful but ever-changing beast. For example, it wasn’t until relatively recently (last 50 years) that the kind of smart jackets we describe were called jackets at all – they were coats, hence the thing over the top was an overcoat.
Do you know anything about Nanamica? Trunk now stock certain models from them and I like the look of the gore-tex down jacket as my potential ‘casual coat’ (https://www.ssense.com/en-gb/men/product/nanamica/navy-down-coat/10399061).
But I don’t know much about them and I’m curious if a coat that’s outer is gore-tex can really be worth £900.
I don’t I’m afraid, I don’t really wear technical jackets like that outside of actual outdoors activities
Hi Simon, do you have any good recommendations on Raincoats? I have a navy aspesi carcoat/raincoat that is terrible in rain, regardless how many times I have impregnate. Is a classic mac the best choice?
Probably either a straightforward Mac or a trench coat, yes. I love my Coherence one, but they’re pricey, and of course I love our PS Trench
My dad, who’s in his early 60s, is looking to get a smarter coat. He wears jeans and jumpers a lot and occasionally a jacket. Seldom, but not never, a suit (he’s retired). When it’s cold he usually wears a parka but would like something smarter that’s also warm. He asked for a contribution and some advice (the latter I think aimed particularly towards me) for Christmas.
I was going to take him shopping in the new year. I’m inclined to look at duffle coats (especially in a tan), something like a bridge coat, and based on this helpful article possibly a polo coat (but he might find camel a bit showy). I think a brown tweed DB overcoat could also work. Or maybe an insulted / warm Barbour – but might not be as smart/warm as he was looking for. Don’t want to dowdy – a friend famously compared him in a new overcoat, in his 20s, to “George Smiley meets Mrs Tiggywinkle”. It really depends what he likes the look of and what fits.
My question is: any suggestions for places to buy off the peg around £500? I know that’s a bit below the usual price point here although sales might help. I thought a trip to Cordings would make sense – a number of good options there. My wife suggested Selfridge’s to decide what he wanted and then direct the search.
It sounds like you’re on the right lines John, yes, I agree with all your points. Cordings is probably a good place to look, and perhaps Ralph Lauren Polo in the sales, plus Private White online. I don’t think Selfridge’s will be that helpful, it’s all fashion-dominated now
My son has just bought a PWVC Venitile overcoat which was several hundred pounds below usua(545 pounds from 835)l and they also have big savings on their wax jacket.
Alan Paine are good for tweed but are very country shooting style.
I bought a Mackintosh storm system wool coat. The sleeves are too long – would you just roll them up or actually shorten them?
I would shorten them – it sounds like a fairly smart coat and you’d want that clean finish
Thanks for the article Simon. I’m starting to think about having a bespoke overcoat made. I’m quite covered for the warmer and mid-season but I lack something for the proper Swedish winter. I very rarely wear a suit but have started to wear odd jackets/trousers. I’m thinking of a DB overcoat in Navy, dark brown or mid-grey in herringbone wool (any thoughts?). I also want it to be a really versatile piece to be worn all winter in all kinds of situations (have a lined waxed Barbour jacket for the most casual times). To my question: do you have any recommendation for the fitting? How can I make sure the coat will fit both with a jacket and with more casual knitwear?
Have you seen this post on overcoat fit?