This overcoat from Ettore de Cesare in Naples has been featured before, in the style feature a couple of weeks ago talking about silk scarves and shades of navy.
However, there have been a few comments recently that readers appreciate articles on new commissions, even if I’ve used the tailor before and effectively reviewed their work.
I can see how it serves as a focus for current thoughts on a category of bespoke tailoring, such as overcoats today. I might make one a year, for example, and covering it is a useful jumping-off point for discussions of how one’s wardrobe evolves, or changing views on value - or simply a place where readers can ask all the questions they have right now about coats.
So here’s a little review of this new coat from Ettore, followed by more general points.
Ettore de Cesare is a solid technician. All the pieces I’ve had from him have fit well from the start, and this coat was no exception.
The main things I look for at the first fitting are inevitably the ones where I know tailors have difficulties. They include a clean drop at the top of the sleeve, which isn’t always easy with my rounded shoulders; the right side of the garment (my right) as my lower right shoulder can make the balance hard; and a close fit on the collar, which makes a big difference on my slightly long neck.
Ettore nailed all these things. Of course, he has an established pattern for me now, but that was true with the first coat six years ago too.
I’ve included some straight-on photos below to illustrate. The only thing I’d want to improve would be lifting up the shoulders at the back, although bear in mind I like a lot of fullness in the back of a coat: there’s nothing worse than trying to get on a coat over a jacket when the fit is just a bit too tight.
Of course, this style of Ulster coat also deliberately has fullness visibly gathered into the waist, whatever form of pleat or fold it’s done with.
Where Ettore and I often differ is style. His default with a jacket with a high gorge, a shorter length and a close fit. The more contemporary end of the Neapolitan style spectrum.
Fortunately we’ve established that this isn’t my style now, and again, fittings run well as a result. The amount of comfort I like has been noted - not just mentally, but I’m sure somewhere physically on the patterns.
Style issues did rear their head again with this coat, however, due in part to a lack of communication, and in part the lack of examples to try on.
I could see most aspects of the style of the coat at the fitting - the height of the waist button, the amount of overlap, the line of the lapel. But as is often the case, we were drawing on the position and angle of the gorge - and therefore the shape of the collar.
The gorge line on the final result was more downward-sloping than I expected, certainly compared to other Ulster-style coats. Look at my Liverano or Ciardi versions, and you can see the difference.
When the collar is up, this just means there is a slightly smaller, slightly more pointed shape around the chin. But when it’s down I think the shape of the collar rather stands out, and I do wear coats more with the collar down these days - usually with a scarf, with a smarter outfit.
Unlike other overcoats, Ettore also included a button on the cuff of the coat. It’s not a big thing, but had I known it was going to be there I would have gone without. I think it looks a little lost next to the big turn-back cuff.
The top set of buttons on the front were also set quite far apart, but that of course can be changed.
Overall, while I like the coat, it’s a reminder of the point I made in my first piece on my favourite tailors: whenever possible see an example of the thing you’re going to commission, especially if it’s a DB or overcoat, where design choices make such a difference.
The material, on the other hand, was absolutely perfect: a Fox Brothers 20oz merino in a midnight herringbone (CT12). Deliberately a little lighter in weight than some of my others, but dense and with a lovely drape.
My other navy DB coat, a cashmere from Cifonelli, is still great but isn’t quite as versatile this will be. Not just because of the visible finishing on the Cifonelli, but because that cashmere makes it too formal (for me) to look good with jeans.
Although I’ve never worn that Cifonelli heavily - given it’s never been my only coat - I still think the cashmere has aged pretty well. But this wool will be better, and have that versatility of style.
That’s illustrated by the outfit here. Even thought it’s fairly smart (the navy jacket and trousers detailed previously here) the old Ralph Lauren cap sits better with this coat than with the luxe Cifonelli. Contrast is intended, but not quite that much.
Other things to note are the suede that Ettore often uses on his clothing, and I have here in black on my undercollar.
And on the flip side, I think it’s fair to say Ettore’s finishing is not quite as good as some Neapolitans, and certainly not at the level of the English, French or Milanese. That lapel buttonhole is about average for Naples, with some finer and longer.
We took these shots one evening in Naples, by the way, on the waterfront after a busy day visiting factories. I think the details come out enough, but if anything isn’t clear please do ask.
Seeing them again reminds me how great a DB overcoat like this looks in use, in motion, with hands in pockets and even in trouser pockets. Static poses just never do it justice.
Ettore de Cesare travels to London regularly, usually using the Holland & Sherry showrooms, now in a bigger space on Savile Row.
The overcoat cost £3500, which is Ettore’s starting price for all wool coats. Jackets start at £2500. You can see where they’re made, in Ettore’s Neapolitan workshop, from our visit here.
Great to see you with a new bespoke commission Simon. One thing that caught my eye with this beautiful coat is that it has a formal, yet a relaxed formality, definitely not casual. The front and back photos (photos 3&4 ) show this well. Would work well with a fedora hat also in a city environment.
Health to enjoy.
Do you think you will wear it unbuttoned Simon? The fitted shape works really well. I know you like a dramatic coat
Nice example of how a ball cap can add to an outfit.
Thanks Peter, and yes I would, and do. As with a lot of bespoke, while you lose a lot of the hand-structured shape when it’s worn unbuttoned, it still falls in a way that something without that 3D structure does not
The length looks like it is right at the knee, so that would be shorter than the clearly below knee length you normally advocate. (I also thought that with the pictures from your PS donegal overcoat.) Am I just wrong about the actual length or is that on purpose with your more casual overcoats?
No, it is just below the knee.
With the donegal coats, they are of course RTW and I am above average height. I usually end up having them lengthened, but it wouldn’t be accurate to show that in the images intended for others to get a sense of what they’re buying.
Cool coat, Simon. I wouldn’t worry too much about the style points. In my view, the buttons add some looseness and playfulness to the coat. Same goes for the sloping gorge-line, which looks very relaxed and stylish in the silk scarf feature.
Interesting, thanks Wouter
How comes you wear the collar down these days?
Would you wear this one with jeans?
Also, is the fabric still available from Fox?
Yes I would wear it more with jeans – though with smarter ones, an off-white or a dark indigo.
Yes the fabric is still available I think.
On the collar, I think I’ve come to appreciate the elegance of it worn up, how nice and clean it can look, particularly with a scarf running along that line of collar and lapel. I wouldn’t say I like the collar up any less, although when the coat is worn open, I think sometimes it looks a bit messy with the collar up, as it collapses etc
Simon, could you elaborate on how this coat is less formal than the Cifonelli? Is it mostly the fabric (maybe just not so obvious in photos), or less structure? Doesn’t seem that much busier in terms of style details, and I like how pockets here are simple flaps, not postboxes
It’s too things primarily: the fabric, which has much texture, wool and herringbone, not the smooth luxe of cashmere; and the finishing, the Cifonelli coat has quite prominent pick stitching on every seam and edge, plus Milanese buttonholes.
The cut also makes a little difference: the Cifonelli has a squarer shoulder, more padded and wider, and a more nipped waist.
Thanks, that makes a lot of sense! With one exception though: isn’t visible pick stitching normally a more casual detail – I’m thinking Neapolitan jacket lapels?
Good point. It depends a little on where the stitching is – if it’s very neat and right on the edge, then it’s smarter than being a few mm in from edge, as those Neapolitans often are, creating that swelled edge look in between the stitching and the edge. They even often have two rows of stitching – one on the edge, one a few mm in.
Also, the Cifonelli stitching is done in a shiny, silky yarn that looks like a more luxe detail
I was wondering if there is a reason behind the top two buttons not lined up with the bottom four on the coat? Not just for your coat for in general.
I’ve seen many coats like yours in this post where top two buttons are spaced apart and other coats where all six buttons are aligned in spacing.
The Polo coat below for example has the buttons aligned and top two buttons are not spaced differently than bottom four.
It’s a hangover from when those buttons would have been functional, but would have been wider than the ones below it because of the shape of the lapels.
The example you link to has quite narrow, straight lapels, and so the top buttons can be lined up. It’s the same with an old naval pea coat. But then compare a pea coat like that you our Bridge Coat, and you can see how the shape of the lapel changes the position of the buttons, making them wider in the chest area.
My Cifonelli coat actually has a bit of that – the top buttons are placed a little wider, but the coat is still cut to fasten to them. To be honest I don’t think that’s that useful and don’t use them, but again it shows the shape.
Today, I’m sure most designers keep it and like it because it’s quite flattering on a guy to have a V shape running up the body.
Great Article. But let’s talk about how amazing these shots turned out. (Especially the one under the headline)
Yeah, all credit to Jamie there. He really captured a lovely evening by the sea
This overcoat looks a bit shorter than your Liverano and Ciardi, is it? I think the combination of design/cut and fabric make it a very versatile piece, easily wereable with jeans. But I agree with you, I don’t really like the cuff button and I think it would look better without it. And the top set of buttons is too widely spaced, it looks unbalanced, particularly in the 5th photo counting from the bottom, front view with the collar up (I think it’s not as bad with the collar down, since the lapels fill up the space), they just seem to be floating in the ocean. But since that is easy to change without an impact on the fit, it’s not a big issue.
Also, I think you are great at tonal outfits (similar colour palette, but clearly different colours), which is something you really enjoy. Lately you’ve been experimenting with “monocrome” outfits (not strictly, since the pieces are often not the exact same colour), all black (in the summer with the Casatlantic pieces), all navy (here), brown on brown (the brown flannels with the brown v-neck)… With great sucess in my opinion! I think you nail the “monocrome”, in a very elegant way, which is pretty hard. Thank you for being such a great inspiration!:)
Thank you José, you’re very kind.
I checked and it is a touch shorter than the others, yes, about an inch and a half. It’s funny how I didn’t specify a length, just did it by eye, but I like the result. Being a straight hem, easy to change later on too
My guess from the photos was about two inches shorter, and I wondered if that was a new preference.
It’s fascinating to compare all the coats you referenced and consider the differences you cite. Despite their similarities, they’re all quite distinct.
Regarding the gorge, it seems to reflect your shoulder line, which I think creates a sense of harmony. I really like how the lapels and collar work together when they’re down, and their proportions in relation to the shoulder and the waist.
Interesting on the shoulder line, thanks. I can see that harmony, although I always have in mind the idea of the notch on a lapel pointing towards the shoulder, as being flattering. I feel like this line should do something similar on an ulster
“Unlike other overcoats, Ettore also included a button on the cuff of the coat. It’s not a big thing, but had I known it was going to be there I would have gone without.”
No tailor should not impose personal tastes on the client without his/her agreement. The sleeve button, or rather its absence, should have been specified at the first or second fitting. At £3500, the overcoat should have met your bespoke requirements exactly. Ettore should cut and fit new sleeves at his own expense.
I think you’re being a little extreme, Gary. Nothing was imposed on me, we just forgot to talk about that detail. If I do find it really bothers me after I’ve been wearing it for a while, I’m sure Ettore would oblige. But I wouldn’t fuss about it now.
By the way, £3500 is a lot of money but is not a lot of money for this bespoke overcoat. People always conflate the two. For the quality of the garment and the work that goes into it, it is verging on cheap.
This is literally the perfect coat, smart but not stuffy, elevates the jeans and cap, epitome of high/low dressing. Unfortunately for me it’s outside my budget, I’ve seen the one below, appreciate it’s well below the standard that tou cover, but would appreciate your thoughts. I feel it’s too smart now that I’ve see yours.
I think that looks very nice Lax. Perhaps a little short, and perhaps a little smarter, but not a lot
Simon thats a really nice coat and very versatile. How casual would you go with it without creating a huge contrast ? By the way do you plan a new color of the donegal coat for this year ? If yes what color are you thinking of ?
I wouldn’t go more casual than dark indigo denim or off-white denim, and loafers.
This Autumn we will probably be restocking the navy and grey herringbone donegals, and introducing a new coat. Probably not doing a new colour
Excited to hear about the new coat. Can you share few key details on what material you are planning to use and where will it place in relation to current Donegal coat, as in make and details?
Also am I correct in assuming the prices for Ettore de Cesare you mentioned are sans VAT?
No, those are with VAT.
All I can say on the new coat is that it will be a double-breasted, real winter coat – so something that can sit alongside the donegal, being rather warmer.
Thanks, that’s exactly what I’m looking for. I’ve been between ordering one you helped design for Anthology or having one made bespoke. I figure I’ll wait a bit now.
If that’s the case then Cesare prices are very reasonable, I’d have expected these numbers to be pre-Covid.
Simon, on your DB coats, do you button just the one button, or the button opposite that is concealed as well? Do you do two buttons up or one?
Seems to be both in the photo of you walking?
Like a double-breasted jacket, I would only do up the waist (middle) button and the one inside at the same level (the jigger button).
If it was especially cold I might have the collar up and the lower button done up as well, but only in extremis
Sorry to be more specific, if you are doing up the middle button, do you almost always do the jigger button as well?
I am new to your page, I like my garments and it’s make. I wish to follow you, is it ok!
The Blue coat, see to be very comfortable fit, I ought to have it little longer which might give a great look while taking a walk along the Cornish.
Please do, I hope you find it useful. And that sounds very nice
Beautiful coat and evening photos of Naples, going there for the first time for Easter, can’t wait. A lot of questions regarding coat length. I have two formal coats that are slightly above the knee but I am shorter than average. Appreciate your thoughts on the pros and cons of long vs above the knee cuts. Maybe in a separate post if the answer is too complex.
There is an article here on style aspects of an overcoat, where length is discussed.
In brief, though, I think a coat should always be on the knee or below. It’s more flattering on people of any height, as well as being more practical. It’s also a really easy way to have more style and flare in your outift, yet appearing purely practical.
If you’re shorter, I would suggest on the knee or just below, rather than longer.
I just read the article that you linked about overcoat styling. Great read. But it seems that you have changed your position on one issue. You wrote about incongruities among details in overcoats and topcoats. Specifically you wrote that it would be incongruous to have a peak lapel coupled with a cinched back. But that is what you chose for your cashmere Cifonelli, no? Can you please explain the evolution of your thinking on this point? Thank you.
No, the Cifonelli doesn’t really have peak lapels – the gorge line (between the lapel and collar) is flat, not pointed upwards. A flat line is what you get on sportier DBs, like the ulster coat here or a polo coat often. The Cifonelli design was modelled off an old polo coat
Got it. Thanks. There were no clear pictures of the Cifonelli lapels so your clarification is much appreciated.
Another interesting article on the technical side and great pictures. In addition what I find very useful is how you adapt clothes to create different looks, which makes for more longevity with existing clothes and to bear in mind when purchasing something new. In particular, in my case I am wearing jeans more nowadays and generally more casual, so wearing an overcoat in this style with a ball cap and jeans provides some great ideas for different looks. Thanks again to you both for very useful post which is greatly enhanced by the excellent photography which in some shots captures a nice sense of motion.
P.S thanks again for recent feedback on my questions on some other posts. Much appreciated.
Pleasure Stephen, it’s wonderful to be able to provide that. And never stop asking questions – it benefits literally tens of thousands of other people, not just yourself
A lovely coat! Yes, an alteration of the two highest buttons’s stance would greatly improve its overall look, indeed. I’m trying to figure out the possible exact level of this outfit within the Monk’s style. Still, a better alternative to the black one for sure.
I understand from Des Merrion that you have finally made contact. Can we expect something from you on this sometime? Des is a true craftsman and I know many of your readers have recommended him to you in the past.
We have, though on the manufacturing side, not bespoke. No change there
Why not bespoke Simon?
All the reasons we’ve gone into before on regional UK tailors, as discussed here
Yes, saw that article, but given so many readers responded to it by recommending Des it seems you’re missing an opportunity here.
Thanks Mark, but no I think I made it clear why I was focusing on other artisans
Not a clothing comment at all. But noticing the Diego Maradona mosaic and the fact that you can’t walk 50 yards in Naples without seeing a mural, a shrine or graffiti dedicated to him, I do wonder what will happen when Napoli win Serie A this season (as I think they inevitably will do now). Will they get replaced with Spalletti murals.
We were actually in Naples on the night they beat Juve 5-1. It was crazy
Just wait for the party in April/May …. it will go on all summer!
Yes, I have friends who grew up there saying they plan to go home for that whole period. It will be a special time
As always I enjoy your articles and discussions. I would like to suggest, however, that you consider a new baseball cap that is fitted, rather than the one shown with this beautiful long coat. The adjustable strap across the back is not at the same level as the rest of your outfit – or the rest of your outfits across your site in other images. And that exposed part of the back of one’s head is never the best view peeping above the strap. Can I suggest the New York Yankees MLB hat as the best graphically in a deep navy blue, a simple but elegant N and Y in white. And fitted to your hat size. If you give me a mailing address and hat size, I will send you one from the offical Yankees MLA store in the City.
Best and cheers,
That’s kind of you, but no, thank you. First, because I wouldn’t wear a Yankees hat not being a Yankees fan. But secondly and more importantly, because the thing I like about this hat is its shape and the way it has aged – that is what gives it style. A new Yankees one is polyester, and so will not age, as well as being different proportions.
The Ettore de Cesare navy overcoat looks fabulous on you, Simon. The style and features flatter in a low-key, masculine way. One of the things I consider when contemplating a purchase is whether anything about it–style, cut, color, fabric–would look better on a different body type or someone with a different look.
I can’t imagine another man looking better in this gorgeous overcoat than you. It’s simple enough to elevate casual outfits but classic enough to look natural over suits. I like luxury when its like this, recognizable to those who appreciate it, but otherwise very quiet.
Thank you very much. Nice points on the low-key and masculine nature of it
If you were able to re-do this coat with Ettore, what would you change? Would you have a straighter gorge line and lapel? Would you use a heavier cloth?
I wouldn’t change the cloth, as I said in the text it’s perfect. I would just straighten the gorge line, not have the cuff button and narrow the chest buttons
I wanted to follow up on our conversation about baseball hats. My point was that a fitted cap is more elegant (if baseball caps can be elegant) that an adjustable one. The Yankees hat was a little tongue in cheek. The Yankees graphics is one of the more elegant ones, rather than the more cartoon-like brands. The MLB does make cotton and even wool ones under their “heritage” line. And they do make several profiles, low being the best. Since the baseball hat has become ubiquitous in many of your images, can I suggest an article about them as an important accessory, their history, their graphics, and what ones are most useful. Low profile, fitted, color – and most importantly as you pointed out, their worn or broken-in, well used style.
All the best
Thanks Jack, and sure, nice idea.
Thanks for letting me know about the heritage ones, I didn’t know about those. I still wouldn’t wear a Yankees hat, not being a fan, and to be honest, while a cleaner fit on the head would be good, I’m not entirely sure about the fitted style – it almost looks a little too clean. After all, the point of it is not to be that smart – this is where I think people go wrong with baseball caps that are plain, and cashmere or leather or something.
Anyway, you’re right all good fodder for an article!
Can I add a vote for an article on smart/casual hats please-smarter than a beanie but not too formal.
Sure Peter – there’s not much in between really, if you don’t want a brimmed hat and a beanie is too casual. Flat caps is about all you’re left with – one reason I wear a smarter beanie more
Nice coat, but I personally cringe at the thought of an exposed neck against tailored wool
Fair enough – wear a nice cashmere scarf as well perhaps
So you prefer a minimalistic approach when it comes to turn back cuffs. It seems that nowadays, most prefer a button or 2 even with turn backed cuffed overcoat.