What to Look For in a Winter Coat
Still wearing that old peacoat that got you through college when the weather turns cold? It’s time for a versatile winter coat, one that can hold its own with your collection of fine custom suits and still work with more casual looks, an all-purpose coat known as the topcoat.
You know the kind of coat we’re talking about, right? They’re the kind of long, winter coats that you see on dapper men of all types in just about every kind of outfit you can think of (see these topcoat donning style mavens for reference).
We can hear some of you thinking wait, isn’t that called an overcoat? Yes, you do hear them referred to as overcoats sometimes. If you’re wondering what’s the difference between a topcoat and an overcoat, we’ve broken it down here. If you don’t care what it’s called, as long as you’re called dapper when you wear it, scroll on down to the rest of this topcoat buyer’s guide.
Topcoat Buyer’s Guide
Okay, so you’ve made the smart choice and decided a topcoat is the way to go. How do you decide on one? What makes a great topcoat great? Below you’ll find a guide with everything you need to know to find the best coat for you.
What to look for in a topcoat
As with many decisions about clothes, there are as many opinions about what makes a quality topcoat as there are people wearing topcoats. Still, we find it useful to focus on the fundamentals, three C’s that make for quality clothes: Cloth, Cut and Construction.
We’ve covered fabric weight, but what about the cloth itself? What should your topcoat be made out of? There is one fabric that dominates the world of topcoats and overcoats and that is sheep’s wool. When woven well, you can’t beat wool for keeping you warm and looking good while doing it. The softness, insulatory power, and superior drapability of sheep’s wool make it the ideal fiber for a topcoat cloth.
Of course, there’s more than just wool. Cashmere, cloth made from the fibers of hair harvested from the undercoats of a Himalayan goat, makes a luxurious addition to any topcoat. The feel is superb and the warmth is outstanding. The down side is, it is no small feat to harvest the fibers of hair from the undercoats of goats who come from the Himalayas. Cashmere, as a result, is expensive and the cost of that fabric can outweigh the benefits.
On the flip side, you’ll find lower quality topcoats made with all sorts of synthetic fibers. These cloths can still get the job done (keeping you warm) but can’t match the look and feel of real wool.
Topcoat Cloth Considerations
- Money’s no object? You can definitely tick off your “Luxury” checkbox with a 100% wool coat. If you’re looking for something a little more opulent, adding a bit of cashmere is nice step up.
- Looking to break bad without breaking the bank? A topcoat made of worsted wool will give you a clean and polished look but it’s still durable enough to last you for many winters to come.
- My clothes are disposable, my income ain’t. If you’re looking to keep the costs at a bare minimum, lower quality woolens and synthetic blends are the cheapest way to go. Just be forewarned that you may be in the market for another one next year when that cheap navy coat has more little blue pills than a bottle of Viagra.
The cut of a topcoat can make a huge difference. After all, the finest fabric in the world still won’t look good or feel comfortable if the fit doesn’t compliment your body.
Topcoat Cut Considerations
1. The shoulders should be able to accommodate a suit jacket but not so loose as to look like the coat is resting on a hanger.
2. Don’t expect the midsection to taper with your body like a suit. A little room can add versatility to your coat letting you wear it over slim fit suits and heavy sweaters alike.
3. Length varies in coats but the modern topcoat is cut a little shorter than they were in days past ending at the lower thigh.
How a coat is constructed is a byproduct of smart design. Look for a coat that is constructed to suit your specific needs.
Topcoat Construction Considerations:
1. Can’t stand scarves? Look for a collar that stands up tall, and covers your neck when you turn it up.
2. Want a little extra coverage? Look for double-breasted coats that give you an added layer of protection against the elements where the front panels overlap.
3. Got a chronic case of lost glove syndrome? Look for a coat with easy access to warm pockets for cold hands.
4. Been hitting the gym? Look for coats with a working back strap to cinch in the stomach a bit.
Knowing Is Half The Battle
Congratulations, you’re now a topcoat connoisseur. Now that you know how to spot quality, it’s time to find the one that’s best for you. We’ve got you covered there too with our Topcoat Tutorial.
Ready to skip the tutorial and get yours? Check out the Custom Topcoats from Black Lapel.
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