Whether it was the arctic winter of 2009, the resurgence on British television screens of the dapper detective Sherlock Holmes or a simple return to professional formality, this season men’s wear designers and Savile Row tailors are going big on the men’s overcoat. Straight, sleek and long enough to protect the knees from a crisp autumn wind, it is winter’s outerwear item of choice.
Lee Douros, men’s wear buyer at fashion website My Wardrobe.com, says: “A longer coat makes a refreshing change to the sea of trench and pea coats we are used to seeing.” It also provides shelter from the storm. Any storm: economic or meteorological. Consider the following tips on why, and how, to wear the classical coat.
Richard James, Savile Row tailor
Nothing is more elegant than a long, well-tailored coat. Like a well-cut suit it can make the wearer appear taller and slimmer while adding an aura of authority. Quite often they are worn with a sweater underneath instead of a jacket. We have a long alpaca coat (£1,100) in our window currently – it can be worn smartly or more casually but one thing is certain: it needs to be cold.
Prices from £695; www.richardjames.co.uk
Arnaud Corbin, director of Zilli men’s wear
Whenever men come in looking for an overcoat for their suits, they opt for a long length one. We always have long coats in mink, chinchilla, cashmere and lambskin. They should not be so long as to be restrictive, and adjusted so as to be in proportion to your height, but they should always be elegant.
From £3,900; www.zilli.fr
Johnny Allen, sales manager at Savile Row tailor Huntsman
Jackets are getting shorter while coats are getting longer. It used to be just women who followed trends but men are increasingly requesting coats to be a few inches longer than the classical length. Ideally, coats should always be mid-calf.
From £1,395; www.h-huntsman.com
JW Anderson, men’s wear designer
Long coats are a huge trend this season because of a strong military influence. I was inspired by British workwear as well as 1960s military jackets. The faux shearling jacket has been particularly popular; I used cashmere and jersey to create a lighter version of the classic jacket.
From £430; www.j-w-anderson.com
Philip Thomas, director of tailoring, Ede & Ravenscroft
With increased formality on the catwalk, more men are comfortable to try this look as part of their winter wardrobe. Weather ensures that the long coat has a longer season in Britain, so we have had a little more time to perfect the look. Ede & Ravenscroft offer all styles from the business wear, heavyweight navy “Eden” wool overcoat (£750) with velvet collar and turn back cuffs [worn by actor Rupert Penry-Jones in ITV drama Whitechapel] to the tan wool “Covert” coat, which is perfect for both town and country. Completing an outfit in this way usually shows an understated confidence and polished look.
From £600; www.edeandravenscroft.co.uk
Patrick Grant, director of Savile Row tailors E Tautz
I wore one of our show samples – a long great coat (£1,900) – for a couple of months and have never had so many compliments about an article of clothing. After that last bitterly cold winter we found a lot of customers ordering much fuller length coats in much firmer cloths. A classic army or naval great coat works well worn casually over knits, or with a sports jacket and tie. For more formal occasions, a double-breasted opera coat, without epaulettes, is right, or possibly a good full length polo coat.
From £1,600; www.etautz.com
Oliver Spencer, men’s wear designer
I always put at least one long coat in the collection: people love to stay warm and it’s nice to feel something that goes around your thighs. We used a trench coat block this season and put it into a herringbone heavyweight wool – it has a very dramatic look. Regardless of trends, I believe a gentleman should always have a long coat.
From £380; www.oliverspencer.co.uk
James Sleater, co-founder of Savile Row tailor Cad & the Dandy
Interest in the long coat has continued unabated despite the [BBC television series] Sherlock Holmes coming to a close. We have a tweed overcoat in our shop window and I think in the past two weeks we have sold double figures of exact copies. Style-wise, people are wanting them so that they sit on top of suits but also tight enough on the shoulder that if they are worn without a suit jacket underneath, they still look tailored and fitted. Length-wise, just above the knee seems to be the most popular.
From £550; www.cadandthedandy.co.uk
Oliver J Benjamin, designer at Savile Row tailor Hardy Amies
The long coat is embodied by pictures of Hardy himself entertaining high society at the opera. It provides the wearer with an elegant, almost cape-like drape, which implies its only purpose was originally for theatre or dinner and could not possibly be worn on public transport. The perfect length today would be mid-calf.
From £3,500 for the bespoke service; www.hardyamies.com