The Perfect Overcoat...
Having an overcoat made for you may seem like a large expense initially, but made well, it should last at least a decade, making it pretty good value. If you can, a full canvas coat is ideal, as it's heavy yet breathable and will mould to your shape. Don't be put off if you can only justify a fused canvas, as this will still do the job and an overcoat doesn't need to be as close fitted as a suit jacket. Here are a few key areas to think about before making a purchase.
There are a lot of options here, but you can’t go wrong with a heavy-weight, pure wool cloth. It will be durable, warm, water-resistant and stand the test of time. If you run hot and want something lighter and more luxurious then cashmere is a great option. Or for a happy medium, look for a cashmere/wool blend. Camel is a less common but gorgeous cloth, especially if you're looking for something in a tan, and is similar to wool in its resilience. For something less formal look for a heavy-weight Harris tweed. This will transition nicely from the city to the country and has that lovely vintage look to it. Finally, for something decadent, alpaca is the one. It's luxurious, warm and soft, and has a fur like quality which can be achieved just by shearing as opposed to skinning. (I'm quite biased because I have a beautiful alpaca coat which I'll post a picture of at the end of this article so keep reading!)
A black overcoat may seem like a sensible idea, but in reality it shows up everything that comes into contact with it, like dust and hair, so it can be quite high maintenance. It can also wash you out, and considering you’ll be wearing it at your palest, perhaps opt for something more forgiving. Dark navy is smart for work, and easy to brighten up with scarves and pocket squares. However don’t be afraid to go for something lighter. A tan overcoat will really make a statement and is a welcome sight in the sea of grey and navy outfits that dominate the City. It will however require a bit more maintenance and dry-cleaning so be honest with yourself about whether that’s for you! The same applies to light grey. If you like the idea of a tweed this is a really good way to add texture and colour to your overcoat, whilst still keeping it classic. Different coloured yarns are often used to create the design and emphasise texture as you can see below, which not only looks great but also means any marks are hard to see. Perfect for a hectic winter in the City!
If you’re wanting to wear your coat year after year, go for style over fashion. Don’t be tempted by seasonal trends because next winter you’ll regret it. A classic overcoat, by definition, should be timeless. You can go for single or double-breasted, depending on your preference. A double-breasted will be warmer, but unlike a double-breasted jacket they look good open as well as closed. Length-wise, I’d recommend just above the knee; too short and it will be too casual, and ankle length is just a hassle!
If you’re someone who likes to put their hands in their pockets make sure you choose slanted or patch pockets that are easily accessible. The sleeves need to be long enough to cover your suit jacket and make sure you try the coat on with your jacket underneath, as you'll probably be wearing it like this. Notch and peak lapel can work for most styles, peak is more formal, and don't be afraid to play around with the width of the lapel, depending on how much of a statement you want to make! You may feel like you need to be conservative with your suits as this is how you present yourself to clients, but a bit of flamboyance with your overcoat can't hurt anyone.
Hats, scarves, pocket squares and gloves are all great ways to turn 'throwing on your overcoat' into a 'street-style' worthy outfit and it’s a fun way to play around with colour and texture. It also requires very little effort! The autumnal colour palette is a great place to start, and it’s pretty easy to remember.
Silk or cotton scarves in reds and oranges and greens work wonderfully with dark overcoats and are a great solution if you find a woollen scarf too hot. If you don't like wearing scarves then make sure your tie is on point and don't forget a pocket square works wonders with an overcoat, and you don't need to change it that often either.
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