Most overcoats these days come about mid-thigh. That’s partly because most are worn by men who drive on a regular basis, so they need to be long enough to cover a sport coat or suit jacket, but not so long that they’d get in the way as the wearer enters or exits a car. There’s also been a trend for the last ten or fifteen years for shorter and shorter clothes. The hems for tailored jackets and trousers, for example, have slowly crept up over the years, and along with them, the hems of overcoats.
There are few things better than a long overcoat, however. Something that comes down to your knees – possibly even longer – can add a sense of drama to whatever else you’re wearing. With a suit, a long overcoat can feel commanding and authoritative. With a chunky sweater and some jeans, they can add a touch of sophistication to an otherwise casual ensemble. The best part comes when you move. When the hem of an overcoat hangs around your knees, it can sway in a really beautiful way as you walk.
There aren’t that many places that sell long overcoats, unfortunately. Ben Silver, O'Connell’s, Cordings, Brooks Brothers, and Ralph Lauren have them in fairly traditional designs, while Chimala, Eidos, and Camoshita have them in slightly more fashion-forward styles. For more bang-for-your-buck, try eBay or your local thrift store. Since overcoats tend to be durably built and classically styled, they’re the kind of thing you can easily buy second-hand for not too much money and still wear today.
When choosing one, pay attention to fit, but don’t be afraid to play around a bit with proportions. A long overcoat with soft shoulders, worn slightly oversized, can make for a great statement piece. Pair one with a scarf for a rakish look.
We are now in the very dead of winter on the United States East Coast, when every joule of body heat is crowned and cherished. Your first lines of defense against the cold should be a hefty overcoat, a chunky scarf, and some well-lined gloves. Then a waistcoat, a hat, and some long underwear if you still need extra protection. But if your office dress code allows it, another way to stay warm while looking casual and sophisticated is to wear a turtleneck sweater under your jacket.
If the sheer elegance and charismatic personal style of Mr. Yasuto Kamoshita wasn’t enough to set him as one of the most brilliant minds in menswear, a small glimpse into any of his collections is more than enough to prove that statement right. One of my mandatory visits during Pitti Uomo, the unique stand houses some of the most impressive garments on display during the fair. Portraying an unparalleled mix of influences ranging from Japanese sophistication, to Italian tailoring and Ivy League elements, each collection is a superb presentation of contemporary elegance.
The SS16 collection brings once again an outstanding color palette, incorporating a vast array of earthy tones with emphasis on different hues of brown, ocre and pink, which pair brilliantly with more traditional, cooler shades such as navy, light blue or grey. The use of color is, in my opinion, one of the key differentiating aspects of Camoshita, which often resorts to combinations and shades often ignored by most. The two mannequins on display (first picture) are a perfect example: the tobacco suit jacket paired with a striped polo shirt and the plaid belted mac with shirt and vest, portray an unusual yet jaw dropping keenness of color matching. Patterns also play an important role, alternating from subtle micro stripes, to larger variations of paisley, fair isle and ethnic motifs, perfectly balanced to bring just the right amount of wanted irreverence onto each look. Finally, the silhouette is kept classic and timeless, without following ephemeral trends which alternate between opposite ends of the fitting spectrum. The presence of Mr. Hirofume Kurino just made the whole experience that much memorable.
Charcoal grays, deep navys, and dark browns work well in the fall and winter months, but spring and summer provide an excellent opportunity to wear lighter colors. My favorites include the various shades of mid-blues you see above. These include French blue (which used to be common in men’s dress shirts), slate blue (a powdery color), and Air Force blue (a pure blue that’s similar to the color of the sky on a clear day). With a tailored jacket in one of these colors, you can have a great sport coat to wear with cream or tan trousers. With a suit, you have something smart for social occasions.
The only trick here is to wear the right shirt. With certain shades, you can wear a light blue shirt, but once the jacket’s color is light enough, you’ll want to use a white or ecru shirt in order to ensure there’s enough contrast.
Unfortunately, sport coats and suits in these colors aren’t easy to find. The most affordable ones might be at J. Crew and Suit Supply. The styling on Suit Supply’s website is really fashion forward, but the garments themselves are often much more classic looking than their site suggests. There’s also this really nice Camoshita suit at No Man Walks Alone. The price is expensive, but the store is having a sale this week on all their Japanese brands (which includes Camoshita). You can take 20% off with the code BLOSSOM and see how Camoshita’s jackets fit here, as they’re modeled on Kyle (a No Man Walks Alone employee).
Of course, the color works just as well in non-tailored clothing. If you’d like something more casual, try knitwear. Inis Meain has a fantastic (albeit expensive) one made from linen. Their linen yarns are unique in that they have a subtle “bounce back” quality to them. Like wool, this helps their sweaters retain their original shapes, and makes the fabrics feel like they have a bit more “life” to them (as they’re not just hanging limply on your body). More affordably, Brooks Brothers has a Saxxon wool sweater in deep teal, while Howard Yount has some lambswool sweaters in brighter blues.