Thursday, 16 February 2012

How to find the right Overcoat?

What to spend?
Off the peg or tailored?
Best styles and colours.
The overcoat or topcoat is one of the most critically important garments men wear today. They have a great history and date back for hundreds of years to the point where you could say we have always needed something to protect us from the elements. So it's creation, you could argue, stems from prehistoric man. 

What should you spend on your overcoat?
This depends on two things. 1. How long do you wish to have it? 2. How do you want to feel and look in it? If the answers are, not long and don't care then I can't help. But most gents I work for wish an overcoat to last for decades rather than years and want the experience of looking great whilst it not feel like a tank on your back.

So, off the peg. Most high street shops will do a reasonable overcoat but fashions will dictate style. I personally still have a great Reiss coat that I bought 10 years ago. Now whilst the outside pockets have nearly fallen out at the bottom it is a relatively easy and non costly fix. And that is the only thing gone wrong bar a couple of buttons popping off over the years. The trick is to pay a little more than you think is comfortable. I paid, as a student in 2002, £350 for the coat. But 10 years of service later that price seems worth it and then some. 
Tailored you should expect to pay anything from £1000 to £5000 for a bespoke overcoat. This will mostly depend on the luxury of the fabric used but to some end on construction. 100% wools will be at the lower end with the cost rising with cashmere blends and pure luxury fabrics.

Off the Peg vs Tailored
Off the Peg
Now in 2012 I would suggest that a well built off the peg overcoat should cost you between £300 and £700 depending on fabric and of course, brand. High end fashion designers will cost you much more for roughly the same quality but you are buying the name. And in today's market I think it is much more about the quality and look rather than the name attached. 

100% wool overcoats are my favourite except where a cashmere blend is involved. But you will pay extra for the luxury of cashmere but it is worth it for the feel alone. Blends of wool and man made fibres are common and normally to add weather protection but be careful as cheaper ones will not live as long.
The two coats below are ones I provide that are high quality off the peg. The top one is a Loro Piana fabric. And those who know Loro Piana know the quality of it. This retails at £599.
The charcoal below is a classic wool and cashmere blend at retails at £499.


Next is the construction. The better the quality of the construction the longer it will last and less it will lose its shape, though this is inevitable with a coat that lasts for 5 years plus. Ask the shop assistant how it's made? If they return a black stare and look lost then say thanks and move on. All shops should know if their garments are machine made or have partial handwork in them. 

To be tailored in your coat is by far one of the greatest luxuries on dressing properly. To have a garment that is measured exactly for your body shape and your style is nothing short of wonderful. Most good tailoring establishments can do this service and help you design it to your wishes. 
Be sure to ask the differences and let them know things like how much you will be travelling in it and where. This will guide the weight of the cloth. But bear in mind how much you feel the cold and inform them of this too. Nothing worse then feeling hot even without a coat and then being sold a huge heavy weight and boiling in it for the next few years. 
Cloths for overcoats range from 13oz (advise this as the very lightest you risk doing and only if you boil normally in coats) to 25oz with 18oz being a happy medium. 25oz is very heavy by the way and could sink ships if thrown hard enough. 
Oz = ounces. Fabric merchants weigh their cloth in ounces. This is done generally by the square yard. 

Below are some styles in pencil drawing form of classic coat models to choose from. Tailors may vary with design shop by shop. These are my own companies and a pretty standard selection of classic cuts. 

This is a car coat option and gets its inspiration from the 50's coat styles in Europe.

 Happy shopping

Tailor Dan

1 comment:

  1. Thank you. Very useful overview as I am considering retiring my grandfather's wool coat I have been occasionally wearing (and repairing) since 1985! Appreciated.