A reader commented recently that if you don’t feel comfortable in a piece of clothing, it’s clearly not for you and you should move on.
While I agree that feeling comfortable in your clothes is important to looking good – more than many people realise – my experience has been that this comfort can come with time.
If you start wearing a new piece or new style of clothing, it’s inevitable that you won’t feel as comfortable as in your normal outfits. You’ll be conscious of what you have on, even if others aren’t, and sensitive to any glance or comment.
That would be as true of me wearing streetwear as it would be of someone else wearing a suit and tie.
The key is to play around with this new piece or style – to give it time and not stress on it. Try it different ways in different situations, and with different things. Don’t obsess over one image you’ve seen of someone else, or over one person’s opinion.
By far the most important word in that preceding paragraph, I think, is ‘play’. Enjoy the experiment and see where it takes you.
I grew to love my black horsehide jacket in that way, as we discussed a few weeks ago. And I’ve done the same with this Edward Sexton greatcoat.
The situations were different though.
With the leather, I was anxious to avoid a certain look. With the coat, I think I was striving too hard towards one.
When I look back on images of me in that coat, six years ago, I remember exactly what was going on in my head.
Images of gents were striding across it, with hats pulled down over their eyes, pleats flowing in their wake. There was an occasional hard-boiled detective speaking in clipped monologue; perhaps even a gunslinger in a duster.
They were attractive, dramatic images, but didn’t quite match up to reality. It wasn’t even just that the look was anachronistic – I wasn’t cosplaying very well either. The coat was too big and too long. The small, grey fedora would have been hard enough to wear with a normal coat, let alone this one.
Over time, I realised this but began playing with it in different ways.
Rather than always wearing the collar up, I started wearing it down, just with a scarf poking out of the top. This was easy and simple, and as it meant I wore the coat more, also gave me more confidence doing so.
I also had it shortened by about three inches, so it was more of a classic mid-calf length. This was practical as well as stylistic – it seemed much more likely to get caught on a hedge, a gate, bag, when it was super long.
And I rarely wore it with a fedora, preferring a simple watch cap or nothing at all. This made it stand out less but also, interestingly, meant the subtle beauty of the coat came out more. The reaction was less ‘wow, what a big collar’ and more ‘look at that shape in the back’.
There is nothing wrong with a fedora necessarily, by the way, and I still think men should wear them more. But it is easier to wear with a less dramatic tweed coat, like this.
Today’s article – reflecting on how this bespoke coat has aged – is intended to show a few ways I prefer wearing it today.
The image at the top of this article shows the coat with the collar down, and scarf at the neck. The attention is so much more on those lapels, the shape created by the cut, and other subtle details like the slim waist of the Cleverley bespoke shoes.
Above is an even more understated example. Tie the scarf twice around the neck on the outside of the collar, and it’s messier, asymmetric look makes everything much less sharp and buttoned-up.
When I do feel like showing off that collar, and the lovely roll of the lapel, I do so but without a scarf or hat. Or indeed black-suede shoes.
It’s even nice worn open (below). I know that undermines the point of the bespoke cut and make, but it’s pleasing in a different way to put your hands in your trouser pockets and push all that flowing cloth behind you, knowing how the shape of the seams and the pleats looks.
In other words, I’ve learnt how to express myself with the coat, rather than striving for something else. It took a little time, but it feels part of me now, and something I really enjoy.
To be honest I find this is often the way with new clothes, for me. Not necessarily struggling to find any way I like to wear them, but finding the ways I like the most, and the ways they fit with everything else.
It’s part of the enjoyment, and the fun. (That word again.)
In most other ways, the coat has aged very well. It doesn’t get heavy wear, given I have a few coats, but it shows no sign of those six years gone.
The coat is surprisingly warm, given the material is only 21oz. It is a fine wool, and 15% is cashmere, but I think most of the warmth comes from that big overlap on the fronts.
The work was always beautiful – not showy, but very fine – and the only thing I would say there is the functional buttonholes get distorted now and again through use, and need straightening by hand.
The silk lining of the coat was the obvious mistake, and something I’ve always meant to have changed. It gets caught quite easily, and there are little pulls and marks on it here and there. I should have had a normal bemberg or similar.
Of course, given this is bespoke, and Sexton are local, it’s very easy to get any of these changes made. The shortening was simple, and I’ve had one more small alteration in the past six years too. I can only blame forgetfulness for still not having the lining changed.
You can read about the commissioning process for the coat, and fitting, on the first post here. The second, showing the final coat with that hat and long stride, is here.
The other clothes shown are char-brown Fox flannels made by Whitcomb & Shaftesbury, a white PS oxford, navy Rubato crewneck, and Begg & Co ‘Arran’ scarf.
Photography: Alex Natt @adnatt
The term for this look might be ‘tamed neo-gothic’. I like the coat a lot. Dramatic, certainly, but not over-the-top or too Heathcliff-ian. Your thought about playing and evolving rings very true. Even people with settled, quiet styles like to push at the edges now and again. In my own case I have been wrestling (oh, the troubles…) with a life-long aversion to loafers. Too prissy, too dainty, just a little bit too smug. But then images of people looking great in them – not least on PS – somehow spur you to think again and give them a go. No doubt something to do with socialisation, aspiration, communities of taste etc. I bought a pair in the January sales and while they still feel like a departure I can feel they are going to grow on me. White socks? Never.
I also had similar issues regarding loafers. I have bought and then sold many pairs over the years, but have now realised they best suit me when I pair them simply with a pair of jeans. White socks? I go for a deep mustard.
Shortening was a good idea. It looks now more well-balanced on you.
It is in a double sense a great coat!
I can understand why you feel self-conscious wearing a trilby or fedora with an overcoat and much prefer a watch cap with this outfit.I feel the same on a relatively mild winter’s day.If it’s colder then I might wear a dark grey trilby as it’s obvious to everyone on the street that headwear is a necessity not a style statement.
Incidentally,I also like wearing dark brown suede boots with this type of coat either chukkas or a high laced boot like the Eskdale 2 from C&J.It tones down the formality of the outfit but still looks smart and even surprising given the coat and grey trousers are formal.
Nice point on the boots Oggi, thanks
Wonderful Article Simon.
I think you wear this coat so much better now that the drama or formality is softened with the coat being shortened and with the addition of an accessory like a scarf.
May I say that I also think you achieved the same effect with your Cifonelli Cashmere DB coat especially with the addition of the Suede bakerboy cap. I too have a bespoke Cashmere coat (SB) that I always thought a little too formal at times to wear with some of my other clobber – but its just a question of not taking yourself too seriously and being playful in making a look comfortable so it becomes something “of you”.
I’m of the opinion you should have risked a Capote.That was a super garment. And in these wetter days…
I second that. The photos of you in the longer coat and a hat are just so awesome. But of course I understand why you could feel a little uncomfortable in something that was so obviously a ‘look’.
The double breasted Great/King coat certainly appeals. Crombie did a couple of nice numbers, but they have suspended operations since 2020. Has anyone heard if they plan to reopen?
In literary circles this is known as to ‘kill your darlings’. Sometimes you have to give up on the orignal idea you held dear and embarce a new perhaps unexpected outcome in order to achieve the best result. Can i suggest Simon that in simple terms what you have stated in this articles is that its better dressed down as the coat speaks so much for its self. Lose the Fedora gain a watch cap etc etc.
Yes – a nice poetic and a nice matter of fact description
Your coats and suits by Edward Sexton, Chittleborough & Morgan and Michael Brown suit you best. They are the most stylish items that you have reviewed. Can we have more articles and reviews on British tailors?
Thank you Gary. There will continue to be a mix, English Italian and elsewhere, MTM and bespoke.
There a couple of English bespoke projects coming up though
i agree, some good old Saville Row reviews would be great. Allot of the big tailoring houses feature fairly early on in the PS back catalouge. It would be intersting to have some updates.
I would second that. These reviews drew a lot of the early readers into the blog and would be nice to see how if things have changed.
What a wonderful piece! I remember it now. I really like the colour and heavyness in it, dramatic but not to anachronistic and military on the right side of the scale. I have a couples of great coats and one detail I really like and find very elegant is the gauntlets – I think they add something when a coat its a bit longer, maybe something with the balance? It was right to shortened it.
And I think it will work great with a hat with a little more wider brim, maybe little more softer and scruffier to – like the travelers from H.W. Dog & co, that will do the balance, because these coats are large clothing and a small hat can make it… like one have pinhead.
True, good point Fredrik. My fedoras I’ve had since this one all have a wider brim, and a softer one might be nice.
An interesting and enjoyable article. I agree new clothes quite often feel a little ‘stiff’.
I have a similar style and cloth coat although not bespoke. At first I thought is was a mistaken purchase, but then took to wearing it for some of my daily walks on a local common, styling it in various ways. This has had the benefits of ‘wearing it in’ and wearing it more, both of which makes it feel physically and emotionally more comfortable.
What I’ve learnt is not to save something for more formal ‘best’ and to experiment with different looks and environments. What’s the worst that can happen? The money is already spent, so what if it develops more signs of wear (sometimes this enhance rather than diminishes a look) or you sell it (Markkt is very good) or give it away and learn from experience. New stuff- wear it, wear it, wear it!
Thank you for sharing your experience.
Thank you too Stephen, nice to hear someone else’s journey too.
The most steampunk adjacent you’ve ever been.
Simon, I have a had a similar jounrney with a great coat that I had made in 1977 patterned on a coat in the movie Dr Zhivago. Blue and grey tweed, very long and much more tailored in fact than yours. I almost gave it away in the 90’s, have had it let out, shoulders rebuilt. I would never had thought of wearing it with out a jacket or suit, but now thanks to PS, I wear it all the time with just sweaters and scarves. In cold New England winters, it is perfect. I wear it with a cap or mostly with broad brimmed fedoras from Lock’s or Worth & Worth. Sometimes dark brown, grey or if I want to be very formal, black. Fedoras are difficult for one to feel comfortable with – especially when younger. But as one ages, one becomes more relaxed and less self conscious. You are tall, so a 3 1/2″ brim is better. You have less hair so a fedora fits tighter and of course is warm. People don’t realize how warm a fedora is – that tight air space above one’s head holds the heat well.
I am fascinated by the role self consciousness plays in so many of your’s and your readers comments and choices. I advise younger men – and younger is any one below 60 – to “play” with clothing as you suggest, remembering that one’s perception of one’s self changes over the decades, that fashion and even style too changes. Until you arrive at the place and time when only “having “fun” and experimenting matters.
And thanks for your suggestions to loosen the constaints and be more casual with clothing.
“…younger is any one below 60”
Jack you have become my new favourite commentor.
Ian (49 but a child in tailoring years).
Would such a coat ,with a structured shoulder, work as well with or without suit jacket ?
Or would the shoulder ‘collapse’ if worn under more casual clothes?
I’m assuming if you wanted that worn with a jacket you’d need a couple of inches extra on the coat shoulder.
Asking because I want a coat that does both …. Can be worn with jacket and without.
It’s fine worn with knitwear really. You get a bit more folds under the armpit at the back, but not a lot.
In the end, you need to cut an overcoat for wearing with a jacket if you do want to wear one. Otherwise the tightness with a jacket will eventually stop you wearing it that way
Simon, you will be easily recognisable as Military Intelligence.
Very well articulated discussion on how the relationship between oneself and a garment evolves. Thank you Simon.
I have the RTW Sexton greatcoat (presumably inspired by this one) and some of its features are less dramatic than the original version of this coat. Wearing it with the collar down and one lapel folded in (like in the pictures) looks great.
I’m unsure about the dark oxford shoes. Aren’t they a bit too formal for this outfit?
I know what you mean Noel, yes. I quite like them though with the coat – they have a similar formal sharpness
Like you Noel, I recently acquired the RTW version and I really enjoy it – as I’m not in the corporate world I wear it with jeans and a simple white t-shirt and finish off with Chelsea boots and a plain beanie. I love the more formal structure of the shoulders and cuffs (as well as the ‘sweep’ it creates when walking) set against the more casual clothes worn underneath it.
Some on here might sneer a little at the incongruity of what I’ve described but I feel absolutely at ease wearing it that way!
Its really interesting to see your take on this Simon- as an observer, I prefer the longer length with the collar up so you can see the buttons, but what’s often more important is how it feels- something you feel more at ease wearing I think should take precedence, and it’s interesting to hear your methodology on how you did that through styling.
Thanks Willilam, and that’s it exactly. It matters just as much if not more how you feel about it, than how it looks to others
I’m pretty sure I saw you striding towards me on Fleet Street in this coat Simon around 2016 (so would coincide with the dates) while I was on my way to my “city” stag do. Fedora too! I remember it looked very dramatic but I’d have to say you were pulling it off! All the best
Such a gorgeous coat still, glad you’ve found your way to appreciating it properly.
Is it just me who might likes it most open? Perhaps I’m watching too much Doctor Who/Torchwood.
Big fan of items like this worn casually though, very nice.
Thanks. Yes, it certainly has real drama and sweep when worn open. The downside really is just that the finer points of the fit are lost, but then that doesn’t mean you have to wear it that way
This is going to be a completely unhelpful comment…but I sort of liked it super long – along with the rear seams/pleats/vents, and the huge great coat lapels/collar, I thought that was part of what made it unique! 😂
But if it felt weird that way and so didn’t get any wear, you obviously made the right call.
Thanks Ben. I think I might have felt the same seeing it on someone else, in a way. It would have been nice to admire that way. It might even have suited someone else more that way. But not me
I think this is a nice point. Some clothes feel very dramatic and unique, and in some specific contexts and combinations they can likely achieve an impact that no other garment could. You could say that such garment was indeed “tailored” for this specific situation.
And then, whey you see it on others and such situations and combination, it achieves an great impact.
But exactly because the garment was made for a very specific look and/or combination, makes it not very practical. It is likely a bit of contradiction since on menswear we often speak about how much clothes should be practical and allow multiple uses. However, at least historically, luxury clothes were made with the exact opposite in mind: to showcase that you can afford very expensive clothes that are only useful in some situations.
Chuck the overcoat for a moment, no offence here at all. I Love your beautiful heartfelt smile. Smile more often as you enjoy your clothes.
I really like the last picture, with one lapel tucked in, and the coat buttoned on a lower button. Though the word gets thrown around a lot, this way of wearing the coat really does look rakish to me. Might be my inner photographer just liking how it photographs…
And crap, I might just have to look into having a new coat made now…
A very interesting process! Upon reading your report on it, it dawned on me that actually with any new piece of clothing – including even shoes – at the beginning of the process of wearing it, we are to factor in a lead time in order to tame it into one’s own true style.
Few cases aside, a key issue then is how to maximize its versatility.
Silk lining works well if it is the appropriate weight — about 21 or 22 Momme. Many tailors are using lighter silk which, as you have noted, is not durable.
I think this was actually heavier than that Manolo. It was certainly deliberately heavy to go with the overcoat.
Lighter silks I’ve had in jackets haven’t had this problem.
Beside bemberg, which lining fabrics would you consider for coats and jackets?
I wonder whether you shouldn’t consider devoting a post on linings. But then, trousers could be included.
There is a post on linings John – here
Thank you, Simon. As a long time reader, I’m embarrassed for having skipped such an important post!
Very useful article to remind us to play with our clothes to get full use & pleasure from them.
Undoubtably one of the most elegant coat; for me reminiscent of a military style adopted by the 19th century Russian officers, with its length & width of double breasted buttoning & larger lapel & collar & back detailing. For this reason it is difficult to wear everyday without standing out. I think the shortening certainly helps & makes it more practically. Wearing the scarf out actually masks the lapels & so becomes more everyday & wearable if you don’t want to stand out, ditto watch cap. I think with such clothes you can become self conscious until you find the coat has been worn in & eased into your body & then finding your preferred style to wear that coat more – it deserves more outings but we need colder winters to appreciate this style of coat & what they were designed for: warmth & elegance.
I think it is very important to ask oneself a question when purchasing clothes: What do I want to achieve with it? Simply to keep me warm or do I want to express something special? I wonder what you wanted to achieve with this piece Simon? Or was it just a process by coincidence? To see what could come out of it? Leave everything to the taylor? Looking good perhaps? That depends very much on the individual that see. It is actually suprising to see how different taste is. I just wonder what you wanted to achieve when you went into the process of making this piece? 😊
To be honest Rune, it’s always to have something special. I don’t need anything at all, and certainly not to just keep warm!
I think it’s about how much you want to stand out, or what kind of style you want. That’s the question around what you want to achieve I think.
Also, I loved working with Edward on a flannel suit and just wanted to see what he would do with a coat. I knew it would be very special, but I hadn’t seen the style in advance. Today there are RTW versions and that is easier to see.
Simon…Right On!….that Coat!….what’s there to say except magnificent? As Bruce Boyer says…”Throw Nothing Away!”
The oldest thing in my wardrobe is an Hermes covert cloth blazer trimmed in leather…now 41 years old. Bought it in Paris, and I remember well not eating much except cheese and crackers for a month, until I paid it off. Taken in here and there over the years….shortened, mended, moth holes plugged. A glorious thing, with the elbows just giving out. But who cares? These are old friends that we must never discard.
Great article, as always, and so timely as we all re-assess what’s in our wardrobe these days.
This is an article I’ve been wanting to read for a lot – especially for these “look” pieces, since thoughts can change. I’d also love to read how your Michael Browne body coat has aged too, given the similar context but also in the limited ways of use.
Do you prefer your usual overcoats and jackets? How has it stood?
Good to know. The Browne coat hasn’t really changed to be honest – it’s actually a lot less dramatic, given it’s single breasted, navy, less collar and lapel etc
I would go further : great things MUST be aged.
As an old fart and a person who wears clothes hard, I generally feel a good quality suit / jacket / coat doesn’t really start to fully be at its peak until about 5 years of solid wear ( which may, or may not, involve alterations ). You cannot expect brand newly made things to be right. Cloth is ( mostly ) organic and fit to your body. Construction gives a bit ( generally in good but sometimes in less good ways ).
Don’t worship your clothes. Wear them !
PS. I wear a Homburg. A trilby is not a fancy or exotic hat.
I don’t think you need to wear a watch cap. 🙂
I recently read your piece on the flannel suit from Edward Sexton, looked at their website and came across the RTW “Great coat” and now this piece on the coat:
Have you ever seen the RTW coat in person? Too dramatic for everyday use? In comparison to this from “The cad and dandy” or Private White:
The PW one seems less stylised, and so probably more easily worn, but that drama is probably what attracts me in the first place!
Your views are much appreciated
I have seen the great coat in person, but I haven’t tried it and can’t speak in detail about the make or how strong the style feels. The Private White would certainly be more wearable though
after my appointment with Luca ended quicker than expected, I had time to pop in sexton rtw shop on savile row. tried on great coat, some double breasted jackets.
and Jesus! that coat is dramatic! after looking at permanent style articles I absolutely love it, but after trying it on in person, I could never wear it without feeling like a costume! a mile wide lapels, a mile long collar points! and to be honest for me it felt very strange buttoned to the top.
rtw double breasted jackets on the other hand feels much more… normal! for me, I’d need to size up 1 from what I’d normally wear and I think chest had too much drape for me (wrinkles by the front of armpits) but that’s about it.
corduroy was super chunky but soft at the same time (after wearing Brisbane moss that takes long time to soften, I’m not sure if that’s good or no). very interestingly, indoors I mistook brown corduroy for olive! it’s quite interesting colour!
armholes everywhere was quite a bit tighter than I expected from ready to wear!
I actually really liked the old, longer length. I remember when I first saw the coat, absolutely amazed by the length and especially liked how it ended quite a bit under the knees, giving it a swagger most coats don’t have.
I myself am 6’2” and comissioned a greatcoat that measured 130cm from collar to hem, which ends about 10cm below my knee.
It took getting used to but now I’m thinking of getting an even longer one!
It’s a shame most modern coats seem to end above the knee, as you can tell, I’m not a huge fan.
Simon, perhaps you’ve mentioned this before… but how do you keep the collar up on that particular collar? The crescent? That’s one big, lovely, KMA collar!
I ask because you’re ciardi coat is that Holland and sherry cloth of 850 gm … do you have to double up the cloth for the collar for the crescent insert? That is some really thick material! I’m making one up on that same cloth and having a first fitting this week. I know my tailor won’t have the collar ready but I too almost always wear my collars up.
Curious because I showed you’re pictures as a model and I have the latest donegal coat but I can’t feel a crescent in that collar, though you mentioned it in the first iteration of the donegal. Wondering how to talk to my tailor about how I really want the collar to stand almost always ….
I think it’s really hard to give the tailor precise instructions on something like that. I think you just have to say that you nearly always wear the collar up, and that it has to stay up and look good when up like that. You could mention the crescent, but really it’s up to them to execute that. Trying to suggest more details probably isn’t going to help.
Love that coat, I’d have been upset to have 3 inches cut from it, long is best with a db great coat I feel, but I’ve lived in Russia in the winter so….!? Is it really that easy to change a lining…?? I’d like to see that when you decide to have it done. A “ play “ that I’m currently doing is wearing a wide, London tan, oak bark Bakers belt with large cast brass vintage buckle on the outside of my db lightweight black cashmere overcoat…done up tightly, it keeps me nicely locked in and the colours contrast well, especially with my brown leather day bag and brown cashmere beanie…a mish mash of traditional with a Charlie Chaplin twist…..Im an English saddler living in Ibiza currently making bespoke bags and wallets…I’d like to send some images of a fully hand stitched oak bark leather weekender prototype that I’ve almost finished, for your thoughts Simon, would you be interested in that…? Please keep up the articles….! Love Sextons work…! Best wishes. Richard
Sure Richard, feel free to send some information buy email – [email protected]
Ps. Images 3 ( side profile walking with fedora ) and 5 ( no fedora coat open smiling, ) are really great shots.
Hello Simon, where would you recommend getting a coat shortened?
Ideally, with the original tailor. But otherwise, see this post for alterations resources
Hi Simon. This might be a stupid question, but how does a tailor shorten the length of an overcoat?
Well, they pick apart the seam on the inside of the bottom hem, take out the material and canvas, cut it down, and then resew the hem. The only more complicated parts are around the things like the vent on the back, and if there are any low buttons there.
Was that what you wanted to know?
Yes, thank you.