Capsule Wardrobe Building Blocks

The Overcoat

As with all of the items in the capsule wardrobe this is very much an investment piece.

A Brief History
The overcoat has its origins in the 17th Century. Prior to that, the outer garment of a Gentleman’s outfit was that of a cloak or cape. By the 19th Century the overcoat, or ‘topcoat’ as it was sometimes called, had become a garment worn most of the year round and had a more sartorial style, being tailored in at the waist and flared at the bottom. Once adopted by the fashionable men of the period many other styles emerged, most of which have since been assigned to history. However, a few remain virtually unchanged today and include: The Chesterfield (named after the 4th Earl of Chesterfield), The Crombie, possibly the most classic of all overcoats, as well as military derived garments such as the British Warm and Trench coat.

A style classic
The Crombie has endured because it is as near perfect a design as you can get. Not fussy or complicated to wear or look after, its balance of tailoring and practicality ensured its favour and longevity. The Crombie has been worn by numerous Royalty, Prime Ministers and film stars and, after years being out of favour, long dark coats are once again the thing to be seen in.

An overcoat, like a suit and watch, is an investment and so work out your budget and then spend a little more. It will be worth it. A classic, well made overcoat shouts class and will do wonders for your overall image. It is especially important to own one if you have to wear a suit to work. The worse thing a man can do is wear a short coat (or worse still, an anorak) over his suit, especially if the suit jacket hangs lower than the coat). The best investment is 100% wool (cashmere is not strong enough for overcoat material) in either Navy Blue, black or Camel. Avoid anything that is too trendy or with fussy styling as you will probably still be wearing it in 5 years time and won’t want to look old-fashioned. Make sure, when trying them on, that you allow room for anything you may wear under the coat such as chunky jumpers of suit jackets.

Illustrated: Crombie Greatcoat