Staying Warm and Looking Handsome in a Topcoat

The topcoat is a fall/winter essential for me. The shorter spinoff of the dressier knee-length overcoat, the mid-thigh topcoat is one of those really versatile outerwear garments that I can wear with suit and tie or jeans.

The one I currently have is a black wool/cashmere blend I got on sale from J.Crew a few years back. I initially reached for navy, but then I considered the odd black tie affair during the holidays. So black it was – a choice that has served me well.

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If I were to get an alternate, I’d probably go with camel. Or maybe navy. But even a great herringbone seduces me when I consider other choices. However I play it, I’m glad to have some handsome, well-made and affordable options.

In terms of striking the delicate balance of classic style, quality and affordability, I like what I see from J.Crew, Suitsupply and Black Lapel.

Suitsupply

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Suitsupply never succumbed to the skinny lapel trend, and I really appreciate that. They make great suits, and they make great topcoats, which come in a ton of fabrics, colors and styles that don’t cross the line into “high fashion” that will look stupid in five years.

  • Biggest range of color, fabric and price
  • Coats in pure cashmere, pure cotton, wool-cashmere, camelhair, wool-alpaca, pure wool
  • Any color you could reasonably want, from tan to various shades of blue or gray and some patterns.
  • Single-breasted or double-breasted options
  • Price Range: $399 – $999

Black Lapel

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Black Lapel offers a very handsome made-to-measure option. I have one of their custom suits and was very impressed with the construction.

  • Made-to-measure, which is great if you don’t fit off-the-rack easily (as many men don’t)
  • 100% wool coats
  • Single-breasted or double-breasted
  • $549

J.Crew

topcoats_2016_jcrew

I bought it once, and I’d buy it again. The cut is classic, and the wool/cashmere blend is really nice.

  • Wool/cashmere blends and wool herringbone
  • An option with thinsulate, which helps if your winters are extra cold
  • Single-breasted or double-breasted
  • $450 to $475

Stay warm. Look handsome.

Topcoat Tip: There is a temptation to buy one size up from your suit or jacket size. If a guy wears a 40R suit or jacket, the impulse is to buy a 42R topcoat or overcoat. Don’t. Get the same size as your suits and jackets. (Most American men wear suits that are too large anyway.) The best way to ensure the best size is, of course, to wear one of your own suits or jackets when you shop. It should be somewhat snug in the shoulders, but not constricting. If that doesn’t work for some reason, then get the size that works, obviously.

2 comments

  1. Being a kid of the 80’s (not to mention also living in rainy Oregon), I used to love my “trench” coats, a la John Bender. Last year I was feeling old and nostalgic so I contemplated getting one. My issue with the knee length is I drive a lot for my job and have to get in and out of my car while doing so. For me that extra flap of fabric can become tiresome (nothing is worse than literally closing your coat into the door when you forget to pull it up). So I went for a wool top coat in charcoal. I love it, it feeds my adult/classy side and the rebel that I know is still inside.

  2. Nothing below the knee out there? Like the sport jackets of late – they look a bit short to my eye. I have a raglan sleeved calvary twill long wool outer coat by Missoni which has served me well for 20+ years. Wears like iron. I also think it makes for a more dashing and powerful image than something that ends mid-thigh. Thoughts welcome. Thank you.

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