If the coming fall months are making you feel like you’re critically short on outerwear then we’ve got a particularly chic solution to your problems. Historically worn as a symbol of social status or prestige, the overcoat has been co-opted by much of the streetwear world in recent seasons, often paired with hoodies and sneakers for a particularly striking high/low combination. Sometimes referred to as a topcoat or Chesterfield, the overcoat is characterized by a long cut, buttoned closure and notched lapels (that’s the collar for those unfamiliar with tailoring terms) and is particularly flattering on taller and slimmer dressers thanks to its elongated silhouette.
Just like suit jackets and blazers, overcoats come in both single- and double-breasted varieties, with single breasted (meaning just one row of buttons) being the less formal of the two, while double-breasted coats tend to be cut longer and wider – which makes them a good choice if you want to go for the oversized look so spectacularly demonstrated by Kanye West in his August 2014 GQ cover shoot.
One of the best things about these longer outerwear pieces is how flexible they are – you can dress them down with hoodies and sneakers for a contemporary contrast of high and low – a look that Tres Bien’s Hogeman brothers are particularly good at. Alternatively, you can dress them up with tailored trousers, boots and knits (or even a suit, if you’re feeling particularly smart).
Fabric-wise, 99% of the coats out there stay true to history and are crafted from wool or cashmere: heavy-duty fabrics for low temperatures (although lighter, mesh-like wool crepe is sometimes used for spring-appropriate pieces). Of course, cashmere varieties are far more expensive. If you’re looking for something versatile – something you dress both up and down – we’d recommend a single-breasted coat in either black, navy, grey or camel.
While there are tons of affordable overcoats out there – ASOS and Topman having particularly broad ranges – we’d advise investing in a coat crafted with high quality wool and in an expertly-cut silhouette. Of course, prices can rocket well into the thousands if you’re shopping from luxury brands – Saint Laurent’s overcoats go for over $3,000 – but we can attest that Our Legacy’s overcoats are particularly good at around $500. Try them on if at all possible, and make sure the shoulders fit, there’s plenty of room for layering and that the hem reaches down far enough to flatter your physique.
For more style tips, get familiar with the Chelsea boot.
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- Photography: Ryan Hursh for Highsnobiety.com