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With winter fast approaching, ask yourself: how is your outerwear game looking?
Fine? Got it covered with a windbreaker and a bomber or two? Suit yourself. Let us know how that goes in a month when the mercury has nose-dived, the branches are bare, and you’re having to sharpen your elbows just to grab the last decent coat. In the wrong size. In pink. (Not that there’s anything wrong with going oversized, mind, or pink for that matter, as you’ll see below.)
For those with a little more sartorial savvy, now is the ideal time to have your pick of this season’s outerwear abundance. Which is exactly why we’ve drawn up an edit of the eight must-have styles. Offering a balanced mix of classic and contemporary, the 48 cool AF coats on show here will keep you safe from the elements (and the sale rail).
(Related: The Coolest Jacket Styles For Autumn)
The Check Overcoat
Heritage designs – and more specifically, checks – were a hugely popular theme at the AW17 shows, squaring up on everything from trousers and shoes to tailoring and knits, but it’s on outerwear that such motifs offer the most bang for their patterned buck. Capable of turning what is a simple, classic coat into a hero piece, it’s the easiest way to ensure you won’t get bored of your buy.
“A big focus of our collection this season is the windowpane check, a pattern which has long been associated with some of history’s most elegant and confident dressers,” explains Danny Ching, a senior designer at Savile Row tailor Hardy Amies. “We were inspired by an archive image of our founder in a bold, checked suit stood outside No. 14 Savile Row, so we created a single-breasted overcoat crafted in a boucle check. The pattern makes for a bold and powerful look.”
Alongside this, plenty of brands across the high street are embracing looser silhouettes, so don’t be afraid to wear this style a little bigger (though you should look for coats cut with a generous shape, not just buy two sizes up). And a simple rule of thumb for styling: if the pattern is big and colourful, keep it in check by teaming with a more neutral outfit.
The Bright Puffer
Unless you’ve already given into your caveman instincts and are hibernating in a cave, you won’t have failed to notice that technical jackets have well and truly bedded down in menswear. On the runway, Moncler can take much of the credit for the ballooning trend in, well, ballooning jackets, but now everyone from Saint Laurent to Zegna has put their signature on them.
Once a staple of mountaineering types, the puffer jacket is now a bona fide streetwear necessity. “Technical jackets no longer need to be hardy and durable; something which can be off-putting for wearers,” says Simon Longland, merchandise manager at Harrods, which is currently hosting a month-long outerwear takeover in its menswear department. “The innovation in technical jackets means a puffer can be worn like any other coat would be – equally perfect over a suit on a weekday, or with a knit, jeans and boots at the weekend.”
One thing that has survived the trip down the cliff face is bright colours, which blend perfectly with a streetwear look and let you make a bold statement even on the greyest of days. Or in the place of standout shades, consider any one of the unique finishes on offer, be it a high-gloss or metallic sheen to elevate the piece.
To help a puffer fly in a smart-casual way, opt for one with a stand-up collar. The hooded variety is more casual and therefore better suited to a streetwear outfit. It goes without saying that you should leave the snood for days when you’re actually going up a mountain.
The Winter Bomber
If you think knee-length overcoats belong only in spy movies, there are plenty of cropped styles around that offer a modern edge. “Bomber and varsity jackets have become the go-to short styles,” says Longland. “There is a huge variety of these across all the menswear collections; from clean, simple and refined to embellished, patterned and bold.”
When it comes to the colder months, send authentic pilot-style versions on leave and in their place enlist premium fabrics like wool, moleskin or felt to keep the wind out and give your outfit a tactile point of interest.
Although they’re extremely versatile, these styles are better placed in a smart-casual context. “Layer them up with heavier knits, woollen shirting or scarves,” says Ching. “Many designers do place cropped styles over suits or blazers, but this way you lose a bit of the comfort factor.”
The Trench Coat
Most coats owe their life to the sartorial heritage of the military, but none more so than the trench. As timeless as they are stylish, the style has hardly changed since its invention during World War I.
Waterproof, full-length and belted, it offers both form and function alongside a healthy dose of old-fashioned masculinity thanks to the upward-pointing lapels, which give the appearance of broader shoulders.
“The classic camel colour made so popular over the years by Burberry is a great hue to introduce to your wardrobe as it can be easily worn with casualwear and even over streetwear for a bold clash of styles,” explains Farfetch menswear editor Tony Cook.
“If you intend to wear one predominantly over a suit during the week, then black, midnight blue or this season’s favourite – moss green – will look more polished.”
The Technical Parka
That the parka was invented by Inuits (and originally made from materials like sealskin) is a testament to the coat’s inherent ability to perform in extreme weather. But modern variations have also got looking damn good down to a fine art, too.
A Mod favourite during the 1960s and later a beacon of Britpop, the parka has been revived by brands such as Canada Goose and Norwegian Rain, earning its place as one of the most versatile styles for AW17. “A fur-lined hood offers that bit of luxury that makes it compatible with a suit, but the parka is equally at home with a pair of jeans, hiking boots and a cable-knit sweater,” says Cook.
Aside from the sheer insulation you get with wool-trimmed options, brands are kitting the parka out with technical details such as flap pockets, bound seams and underarm vents that will help you see out a storm in style. The modern look is also more Scandinavian outdoorsman than Liam Gallagher (a good thing in our book) and therefore can be easily paired with cropped tailored trousers and footed by some military boots for a rugged urban edge.
The Oversized Peacoat
“A navy peacoat is the ultimate go-to versatile style for a weekend,” says Longland, and we can’t argue with that.
The double-breasted peacoat is nothing short of a smart-casual beast, allowing for many different looks, whether it be distressed jeans and Chelsea boots, or tailored trousers and sneakers. Simply put, it’s one of those coats you can throw on and look instantly better, whatever you’re wearing. “It works dressed up or down, and there are some great versions by Dries Van Noten, Valentino, Burberry, Officine Generale and A.P.C. this season,” says Longland.
It’s wise to avoid second-skin fits when buying a peacoat, not just because going slightly oversized adds a dashing Heathcliff-on-the-moors vibe to your look, but also because it allows room for slotting a chunky roll neck or cable knit jumper underneath. Check out the likes of Reiss, Club Monaco and H&M for less wallet-taxing options.
The Textural Coat
When winter hits in earnest, even the hardiest folk wish they could brave the elements in a coat that more closely resembles a rug. Thankfully, designers have got the message and this year you can wrap up in textured designs crafted from fleece and corduroy, as well as tried and tested wools and herringbone.
If you’re not one to shout about bold patterns or colours, then expressing yourself through texture is an effective method. “We’ve broken [our outerwear collection] up with textured knitted wools and patterns to give the breadth and depth we feel the modern man’s wardrobe should have,” says Ching.
As for creating a slick look that works overtime (even while you’re in the pub), Ching advises removing any elements of formalwear underneath. “That means replacing a shirt and tie with a thin merino roll neck or super-soft jersey. And swap out your leather shoes and formal trousers for something more comfortable like a pair of selvedge denim jeans and smart leather sneakers.” In other words: let the coat do the talking.
The Shearling Jacket
Cut from the pelts of sheep and prized by generations of stylish men over the years, shearling is one of the warmest and most luxurious winter coat fabrics. As such, you’ll likely have to skip a few shepherd’s pie dinners to afford one, but there is no shortage of options available and in all styles imaginable.
One way to swerve the cost is to opt for a coat with just a shearling collar (faux shearling will also come in at a fraction of the cost). That way, you still get the warmth around your neck, but without herding your bank balance into the red.
Trucker jacket styles work well with shearling collars, particularly in denim or corduroy, two fabrics that offer a rugged workwear look for the winter. Pair them with a plaid wool shirt and dark jeans for an ode to Americana, or look for more elevated styles that you could wear with tailored trousers and a pair of Derbies. Either way, you dodge the football commentator connotations.