The Overcoat: A Complete Guide To Men’s Topcoats & Outerwear Styles For Winter

The Overcoat: A Complete Guide To Men’s Topcoats & Outerwear Styles For Winter2018-06-07T13:49:56+00:00

When winter comes knocking, we soon realise that a simple tweed sports jacket just won’t cut it. Bracing winds, snowfall and miserable, ice-cold rain will not only bring you down but likely give you a cold.

However, with many different overcoats to choose from with their own different styles, it can be hard to find the right one for you. In this guide, you’ll be able to learn all about overcoats, which are the perfect choice for winter.

Not only are they stylish but they’re also practical. Here you can learn about each of their individual traits and characteristics. Just scroll down to discover each one and how they differ!

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For those of us who live in places where the temperature dips for a few months out of the year, a proper outerwear collection is a must for basic survival!

Whilst pea coats are excellent garments that are both casual and stylish, sometimes you’ll need something a little different.

In this guide, you’ll discover the different types of overcoat to choose from according to both formality and practicality. We’ll also cover various details of each coats so you’ll be able to find just the right one for you.

We’ve broken down our Outerwear Guide by the following subjects:

Interested in a particular one? Just click on it to jump down or keep scrolling to read it all!

A comprehensive guide to overcoats. Learn all about winter garments to prepare for the colder months!
Overcoat Guide Reviewed by Charles-Philippe Bowles on .
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The Most Common Men’s Coats

Below is an exhaustive breakdown of the most common coats that men in the Western world tend to have in their closets. If nothing else, it’s important to be familiar with these names so that you can speak intelligently to what fits your needs and what doesn’t.

Burberry Macintosh Vintage Style GentlemanFor a quick reference, you can also use the following list to jump straight to the ones that interest you:

Want to discover them all? Just scroll down!

Covert Coat

Covert-Coat

A topcoat made from twill cloth with four lines of “railroad” stitching at sleeve and bodice hems, which prevent damage from thorns and such. The’re typically oatmeal in color with a dark brown collar. Originally a hunting/riding coat with a deep center vent, covert coats nowadays are slimmer and shorter than typical overcoats.

Therefore, they’re perfect for late autumn days when the chill isn’t too severe. Finally, traditional covert coats include a so-called “poacher’s pocket” as a throwback to their original use, which should be large enough to store a pheasant.

Polo Coat

Polo-Coat

A double-breasted overcoat with a belt and sleeve cuffs, the polo coat is an American take on the British Ulster coat. We have Brooks Brothers to thank for the popularization of this model in the United States.

Mackintosh (also spelled “Macintosh”)

Macintosh-jacket

The original rain jacket, colloquially known as a “Mac.” Invented by Scottish chemist Charles Macintosh in 1823, he created this waterproof garment by fusing fabric with liquid rubber. It’s single-breasted and hits above the knee.

Trench Coat

Trench-Coat

Invented by Burberry for British soldiers in World War I (hence the term “trench coat”), this is a double-breasted raincoat with a belt and epaulets that hits around the knee. Its original purpose was to allow as much ammunition as possible to be held from the coat itself, which is why there are so many military-inspired details on the coat to this day.

Chesterfield

Chesterfield-coat

A full-length overcoat sometimes with a black velvet collar, made to be worn with tailored clothing. Typically single-breasted with a fly front but may also be double-breasted. Its name derives from its supposed first devotee, a member of the family of the Earls of Chesterfield.

Waxed Or Barbour Jacket

Waxed-Jacket

A cotton jacket with a wax finish to make it rain-resistant. Barbour, the English firm most closely associated with this style jacket, makes various models that have two large front pockets and many spacious inside pockets. Waxed cotton jackets wear similarly to jeans and shoes in that they break in over time and take on a unique character.

Crombie

Crombie-coat

A simple single-breasted overcoat. Free of ornamentation and typically made in thick navy blue wool, it’s versatile and can be dressed up or down. The Crombie carries the namesake of its creator, a Leeds-based tailoring house in the United Kingdom.

Although commonly associated with Wall Street or City of London bankers, the style has been a popular choice with clientele ranging from the Tsarist courts since 1890 as well as the Mods from 1960s Britain. The genuine Crombie has enjoyed notable clients such as Cary Grant and Mikhail Gorbachev.

Pea Coat

Pea-Coat

A six- or eight-button, double-breasted, 3/4-length coat with an oversized collar and lapels. A standard-issue U.S. Navy coat, it’s abundant at Army-Navy surplus stores and is based on the English reefer jacket. Archetypical color is navy blue but is also available in black and various shades of grey. Brighter colors such as cobalt blue, red, and green are also available on the market, but these are typically sold as women’s garments.

British Warm

British-Warm

A double-breasted overcoat made from thick Melton wool. Sharing a similar design to the trench coat, it was created as a warmer alternative (hence the name). A dressy greatcoat, this is made to be worn with tailored clothing.

Safari Jacket

Safari-Jacket

A lightweight, blazer-length cotton jacket with a four-button single-breasted stance and four front pockets. Often made in a khaki color but available in others as well.

Duffel Coat (sometimes spelled “duffle” coat)

Duffel-Coat

The only hooded overcoat for men, the duffel coat is a casual piece with large patch pockets and toggle front closures as opposed to zippers or buttons. Issued to sailors by the British Navy, the toggles were used so that the coat could be fastened without having to remove gloves.

Whether or not this is actually easier than buttons is debatable, but the coat pairs wonderfully nowadays with denim and boots. The coat is named after its birthplace near Antwerp, Belgium. Popularised by Field-Marshall Montgomery during the Second World War, it’s an iconic and cosy choice.

Quilted Jacket

Quilted-Jacket

Originally a shooting jacket, quilted jackets are now casual outerwear with a somewhat boxy fit and a single-breasted snap closure in front. Like the safari jacket, the quilted jacket does not qualify as an overcoat, but simply a casual coat that is nowadays worn with jeans and casual trousers.

Baracuta Or Harrington Jacket

Baracuta-Jacket

A common name for the G9 model jacket made by the English firm Baracuta. However, it’s commonly referred to as a “Harrington” too. It’s a hip-length, zip-front jacket with front snap pockets and ribbing at the cuffs, hem, and collar.

Popularized by the likes of Steve McQueen and James Dean, it’s a timeless classic that pairs wonderfully with casual clothing.

Topcoat Vs Overcoat

Man In Duffel Coat & Flat Cap Leaning On Red PhoneboxThere are a few different terms used in the menswear world to refer to long (knee-length or full-length) coats: topcoats, overcoats, and greatcoats.

Retailers tend to use these terms without any standardization, but there are some key differences amongst the terms that you should be aware of:

Overcoats are full-length coats made to be worn over a sports coat. They are typically made of heavy wools and are quite warm. Crombies and Chesterfields are good examples.

Topcoats are lighter weight overcoats and are often a bit shorter than the average overcoat, stopping just above the knee as opposed to mid-calf. Covert coats tend to be regarded as topcoats.

Greatcoats are military-inspired, bulky overcoats. A British Warm is a perfect example.

How To Buy An Overcoat

In many ways, buying an overcoat is similar to buying any article of clothing, and our advice is similar: buy the best quality you can afford. So, what makes for good quality coats? In no particular order, you should look for:

Coat Fit

This can be a bit tricky with coats. If you’re shopping for a classic overcoat like a Chesterfield or a Crombie -that is, anything that could be worn over a sport coat- you’ll want to wear a well-fitting sport jacket to a store so as to get the best fit. You should be able to get in on and off with relative ease, but there should still be some shape to it.

Coat Performance

Man In Waxed Barbour JacketFortunately, it’s a simple question that asks, “Does this coat do the job I need it to do and do it well?” If you live in a rainy area like Seattle, you’ll want a high-performing rain jacket like a trench coat or a Mac. If you reside in, say, Minneapolis, you’ll want a heavyweight overcoat to get you through frozen winters.

Coat Construction

For overcoats at least, this is similar to suit construction as it relates to fused versus full canvas. Most retailers utilize fused canvas in their coats’ lapels and chestpieces, but if you go the custom route, you could get a full canvas number that will last you decades with proper care.

Coat Material

A very important subject. While most coats are made of wool, not all wool is created equal. A Virginian who lives through mild winters and sweltering summers is going to have different outerwear needs than a Canadian who spends half the year shoveling his car out of his driveway.

It’s generally best to buy coats whose shells are made of natural fibers such as wool, alpaca, and the like.

Lifestyle

Finally, this takes all of these things into account by thinking about how often you’ll wear particular coat styles. If you’re a guy who dressed up often and lives in a place that’s cold a few months out of the year, you’ll want a stable of overcoats and some heavy casual numbers alongside your lightweight spring jackets.

On the other hand, if you’re a casually dressed guy who lives in the same place, you’ll want to focus more on collecting pea coats and duffel coats as opposed to a polo coat or a British Warm.

Men’s Jackets & Formality

Allen Edmonds Dalton Wingtip Brogue Boots Formal LouvreAs with any garment, some coats are more formal than others. You wouldn’t wear a quilted coat with a tuxedo, nor would you want to wear a fancy Chesterfield with jeans and sneakers.

We’ve broken down coats into the following categories:

Some coats will be listed in more than one category. This is intentional.

Formal Men’s Outerwear

These coats will all look proper with suits and dressier business casual outfits. For easy reference, they’re linked to jump straight back to the coat’s overview.

Semi-Formal Outerwear For Men

Mens camel duffel coat street styleSemi-formal coats dress up as easily as they dress down. Buy some of these if you work in a business casual office or otherwise have a tendency to dress in a middle-of-the-road way as it relates to formality. Clicking on one will send you back to its overview.

Casual Jackets

The jackets listed below are intended for wear with denim and casual trousers, typically on weekends and / or after business hours. It’s best to not wear these with suits or formalwear. Just click on one to see it again.

Men’s Coats & Practicality

While all men’s outerwear has some measure of practicality, the type of practicality differs from coat to coat. We’ve divided up men’s coats based on practicality below. As with formality, some coats will end up in more than one category.

For easy navigation, you can click on any of the entries below to jump back up to the coat’s overview.

Cold Weather Coats

Most coats o the list exist to keep you warm. The following ones do a particularly good job at it due to their weight and tendency to offer more physical coverage than other jackets:

Transitional Jackets

These jackets are lightweight and tend to work well in spring and autumn, where temperatures start to rise and fall but where we aren’t yet ready to forgo coats entirely nor upgrade to a cold weather coat:

Note: sport jackets and blazers occupy this category as well and make fantastic transitional outerwear pieces.

Rain Jackets

Man In Fedora & Trench CoatWhen it’s wet outside, you need protection. The following jackets will keep you as dry as possible and can be paired with some waterproof shoes such as duck boots.

Coats With Storage

These coats are known for having lots of pockets. Whether you need to carry a camera, pen and paper, or additional shotgun shells, these jackets are your friends:

Parting Thoughts

A few good coats form an important section of a gentleman’s well-stocked wardrobe. If you’d like to learn how to build out the rest of your closet, we invite you to check out our page on how to build a wardrobe.

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