Bespoke Overcoats & Topcoats Style Guide
Overcoats and topcoats are making a comeback. Long may this continue, as there’s really no better garment for offering warmth, comfort and durability during the winter months. A well tailored overcoat or topcoat makes a fantastic investment as it will last for thousands of wears, and can be worn with a range of clothing from jeans and jumper, right through to business suits and smart casual wear.
However, there are a number of things you should know about the world of overcoats and topcoats. We hope that this guide will go some way to doing that. As always though, we highly recommend seeking the first hand advice of a tailor, as they can help you visualise how you’ll wear it, and suggest styles and fabrics that both look great and function perfectly.
Overcoats & Topcoats: What’s The Difference?
In a nutshell: length and weight is what separates overcoats from topcoats. Traditionally, overcoats extend below the knee and are made using heavier fabrics. Topcoats however, are knee length or slightly shorter and are made from lighter weight cloths. The trade off here is that overcoats, if poorly chosen, can look fantastic but overheat the wearer. Topcoats on the other hand, offer a nice balance between warmth and practicality, and can also be made in a variety of more contemporary styles.
It’s for this very reason that we recommend having your overcoat or topcoat hand tailored, as your tailor will be able to ascertain which is more suitable based on how, where and when you’re going to wear it.
Things to Consider When Getting a Bespoke Overcoat or Topcoat
There’s a big difference in the kind of topcoat or overcoat you should wear in a London or New York winter versus a Toronto or Copenhagen one. Quite simply, colder climates require heavier, warmer fabrics. Your tailor will be able to recommend the most suitable choices of fabric and weight based on this single factor.
Fabric, Weight & Colour
The fabric you choose will dictate both the effectiveness and the lifespan of your overcoat or topcoat. At Marc Oliver, we use the best wools in the world in all cloth weights. However, these are greatly improved when blended with rarer luxury fabrics such as alpaca, cashmere or vicuna. Fabrics of this nature make a coat softer, and because their fibres provide more warmth, they allow for a lighter fabric to be used in the construction. The result is an optimally warm coat with a lighter overall weight, which maintains its durability over the years.
When choosing your colour, your tailor will be able to provide sound advice based on what you’ll wear it with. A darker, more plain fabric such as navy, charcoal grey or even black are safer, versatile choices. However, lighter colours such as tan, beige, khaki and camel can contrast beautifully with a dark suit or a pair of jeans and boots.
Fit is the most crucial factor when wearing an overcoat or topcoat. In general, your nicest clothes are those that fit you best. This is of course a tailor’s bread and butter, but we always recommend bringing a suit jacket or jumper along to a fitting for an overcoat or topcoat. This will allow your tailor to account for some extra room for those extra layers of clothing.
The sleeves are also an important consideration for the fit. They should extend as far down as your thumb joint, covering your shirt cuff or jacket entirely to ensure warmth.
Overcoats and topcoats come in a huge variety of styles — Chesterfield, Covert, Duffel, Trench, the list goes on and on. But let’s address two main distinctions here: single breasted and double breasted. A classic option is single breasted with notched lapels, while a more extravagant, stand out option would be double breasted with peak lapels. Both have their merits — the latter tends to be a little warmer given the way in which it buttons up over your chest. A single breasted overcoat or topcoat on the other hand, tends to look a little less formal and is more suitable for all round wear with both suits and smart casual attire.
We trust this style guide helps. Make an appointment with Marc Oliver Bespoke Tailors to arrange a fitting for your next overcoat or topcoat. Sit down with our expert tailor, discuss your needs and wishes, and enjoy the Savile Row tailoring experience.