You know those guys. The types who wear a wispy outer layer like a hoodie, a fleece, or a (gulp) gilet when it’s 40º, 30º, or 20º or even lower. They look like idiots. And don’t get me started on the morons who wear shorts as if to say “I’m a spring break party monster, bro. I don’t need outerwear. Aren’t I hilarious?” No, dude, you look like an asshole.
Maybe it’s some reductive expression of hyper virility when a guy thinks he doesn’t need a coat, telling the world that real men can hack extreme cold without one. (The same phenomenon happens with hats, but that’s a different article.) I can only speculate. What I do know is that blatantly underdressed men in cold weather – especially the extreme freeze we’ve been having – look ridiculous.
The proper gear is key and it need not be expensive. My favorite casual winter coat is the snorkel parka. It’s warm, hooded, riddled with pockets and cut long enough to cover over the butt and crotch, which is a nice feature in a -10º wind chill. And it’s a classic. My favorite snorkel is the original N-3B Parka from Alpha Industries, a heavyweight that was originally designed in the 1950s for U.S. Air Force crews deployed in extremely cold climates. This durable workhorse comes packed with features in several color choices in a classic or slim fit for $250.
For dressy or business modes (though I’m no stranger to wearing my snorkel over a suit when it’s brutally cold), a man needs an overcoat or a topcoat, which are essentially the same thing in different lengths. Overcoats extend to the knee, where more popular modern topcoats typically hit at mid-thigh or a bit lower. There are many sources for these, and you can spend a lot of money if you want. My favorite reasonably priced options come from J.Crew and Suitsupply.
J.Crew’s classic, handsome, trusty topcoats are well made with a soft wool-cashmere blend, and can be had for anywhere between $350 or $500, depending on the season and the sale.
Suitsupply’s elegant topcoats generally have a fuller lapel and come in wool or cashmere. They range from $499 to $899.
An extra nice thing about topcoats is that they are more versatile than people give them credit for. Yes, they’re a business/dress staple, but they also look great in casual modes, too, with just jeans and a t-shirt on cool (but not cold) fall and spring days.
If you can go bigger with price, look at Ralph Lauren, Brooks Brothers, Brunello Cucinelli, or Paul Stuart.
There are virtually limitless other options with outerwear, but these are my favorites. It’s cold out there. Be a man and wear a good winter coat.
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