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HomeFashionThe kinds of overcoat (and methods to design one) – Everlasting Type

The kinds of overcoat (and methods to design one) – Everlasting Type

Anybody fascinated about shopping for or commissioning a brand new coat shall be interested by kinds proper now – what they’re, what they’re referred to as, what their relative benefits are. 

On this piece I’m going to set out the essential choices, and my transient opinions on them. On formality, heat, and different facets of practicality.

It’s going to deal with tailor-made coats – so nothing extra informal like a trench coat, blouson or duffle. These are normally finest purchased ready-to-wear (although a future article on an outerwear capsule will embody them).

And it’ll not go into element about material. There’s a rather more complete article on that right here.

The very first thing to say about names of coats is, don’t assume everybody makes use of the identical ones, or certainly has heard of the names utilized in on-line discussions. 

Totally different international locations have totally different cultural references, and therefore totally different names. Tailors know the kinds they make and the kinds they have been taught. Their body of reference is commonly no wider than that. 

Names are helpful, as a result of they put a label on the picture you may have in your head. They acquire collectively a bunch of traits beneath a single time period. 

However don’t assume that everybody is aware of what a guard’s coat is. When you stride right into a tailor and request a paletot, you may be met with seems of confusion, even bemusement. 

So, I like to recommend specializing in the constituent elements of those kinds. Break down what you need into its traits: single or double breasted, peak or notch lapel, size and material and buttons and so forth.

This text shall be organised alongside these traces, with the kinds being talked about extra as examples.

Size: Overcoat or topcoat

The primary determination with an overcoat is what climate you need it for. How chilly does it get the place you reside, and when through the 12 months do you need to put on it? 

This impacts a number of issues, together with material and double vs single-breasted. However the very first thing it determines is size. A shorter coat is – all different issues being equal – colder than an extended coat. Because of this, coats supposed for hotter climate are historically shorter – normally on or simply above the knee. 

A coat of this sort is normally known as a topcoat. It’s normally in a lighter weight material, however might be single or double breasted. The instance above was made by Michael Browne.

Different kinds of topcoat embody a covert coat (above), which is outlined by the covert material it’s created from – a tightly woven twill that can be nice for trousers (although it may be a little bit shiny, so pretty formal).

This material makes the covert coat very hardy, reminiscent of its nation origins. It’s typically in colors like fawn and olive too, and has a number of traces of sewing on the cuffs and hem, supposed to stop rips getting out of hand. 

The coat typically has a fly entrance, and generally has velvet on the collar (one other sensible addition – because the velvet might simply get replaced). 

Double breasted or single breasted

The second option to make is whether or not the coat shall be single or double-breasted. 

Personally, I’m an enormous fan of double-breasted coats. It is because DB tailoring is so flattering and classy (notably if made bespoke) but a coat is without doubt one of the final methods it may be worn. Anybody can put on a DB coat to the workplace; not everybody can put on a DB go well with. 

A double-breasted coat will all the time be a little bit smarter and extra formal than a single, however not as a lot as with a jacket. It’s going to even be hotter, and simpler so as to add type particulars to (resembling a belt or cuffs). 

It’s typically thought {that a} double-breasted coat have to be longer as effectively – an overcoat relatively than a topcoat. However that isn’t essentially the case, as you’ll be able to see with my DB topcoat from Ettore de Cesare, above. 

Peak lapel or notch lapel 

As with a jacket, a double-breasted coat will all the time have a peak lapel. However a single-breasted coat can have a peak or a notch – and it’s maybe extra frequent to see a peak lapel on an SB coat than on a jacket. 

The one actual issue to contemplate in that alternative is {that a} peak lapel is extra formal and a little bit extra rakish. If you would like one thing extra stylised, a peak lapel is an effective approach to do it. If not, a notch ought to be the default. 

And a notch might be roughly stylised too – evaluate the Vergallo coat on me above, with the Michael Browne one additional up. 

There may be additionally an necessary distinction between peaked lapels on a DB coat: many kinds have a peak which factors horizontally throughout the physique, if not barely downwards. 

(You could possibly argue that this isn’t actually a peaked lapel, however it does have the height’s lack of house  – or notch – between the lapel and collar. So it in all probability belongs in the identical group.)

The rationale this lapel is extra horizontal, was initially in order that it may very well be fixed throughout the chest, making a double layer of fabric in the identical method as a pea coat. And even when the coat shouldn’t be lower to do that, the lapel does permit the collar to be worn up in opposition to the wind, with out the peaks poking the wearer within the neck. 

One of the best-known type that includes this lapel might be the Ulster coat – an instance of which I’m sporting within the picture above, made by Sartoria Ciardi. Initially a Victorian coat with a cape, typically in informal wools like tweed, the Ulster has come to imply this type of DB overcoat, typically with a belt and turn-back cuffs. 

Double-breasted coats with a extra normal, upward-pointing peaked lapel are given varied names, together with a guard’s coat (above) and a paletot. Personally I don’t suppose the kinds are that related, given how divorced they’re from their origins, and the truth that a fundamental distinction was how fitted they have been – which is never an element at present. 

Nevertheless, what all of them have in frequent is that they’re extra formal, and in consequence are inclined to haven’t any belt on the again, flapped pockets, a 6×2 button association (so the highest row doesn’t fasten) and no cuffs on the sleeves. 

It’s this formality that ought to be your first consideration when designing a coat. It might be incongruous to have a sensible, peak-lapel coat from the entrance that was cinched and belted on the again, it doesn’t matter what the unique kinds may need been referred to as. 


It is a transient part, necessitated by the existence of the raglan coat. 

Whereas all different overcoats may have an everyday, or set-in, sleeve, a raglan sleeve runs proper as much as the collar, with no shoulder part between the 2. An instance is proven above. 

It shouldn’t shock you to know that the raglan is extra informal, and suited to coats which can be worn with simply knitwear, in addition to tailoring. It’s additionally a method that there’s much less level having made by a tailor – as a result of its lack of form means the tailor has much less so as to add, and since it’s surprisingly difficult to do. 

There are additionally variations, resembling a half raglan (which seems prefer it has a set-in sleeve on the entrance) and designs with a slimmer sleeve on the high, virtually like a saddle shoulder on knitwear. 


Now we get into design particulars. Pockets are an apparent one, and there are three primary choices: flapped (straight or slanted), patch (with flap or not) and postbox (a mix of flap and patch). 

Flaps are smarter and go along with smarter coats; patches are extra informal and go along with extra informal coats. A postbox pocket (pictured above) is fairly cumbersome and so belongs within the informal class. 

I relatively like postbox pockets on informal coats resembling an Ulster, as a result of a patch can appear relatively too easy for one thing made bespoke. However I’d have flaps on most sensible coats. 

Ticket pockets on coats look a little bit misplaced to me, although they’re relatively sensible. And though some depart them off, I’d normally have a welted breast pocket on an overcoat. It’s very helpful for gloves. 


It’s typically mentioned that the again of an overcoat is the place the horny stuff goes on. I feel the entrance ought to look good too, however there are actually extra design choices on the again. 

The primary is the belt. A sensible overcoat, as talked about, should not have any belt in any respect on the waist. However most others have a half belt: one or two strips of fabric, both stitched to the fabric or left free, and if free then fixed with buttons. 

The type of belt shouldn’t be an enormous determination – it’s unlikely to look misplaced whichever you select. So decide the one you want essentially the most, and if you happen to’re not sure go along with the traditional ‘Martingale’ of two strips and two buttons (proven above). It’s additionally not a tough factor to alter later. 

There are methods for this belt to be useful, with additional buttons and buttonholes, however having carried out that a few occasions on my coats, I not request it. I simply discover that little cinching doesn’t make a large enough distinction to what I can match beneath. 

Pleats and vents 

Above and under that belt there’ll typically be pleats, as a approach to put extra room into the again and seat, and subsequently offer you larger freedom of motion. 

A field pleat in the course of the again is engaging, as are pleats both aspect of it – radiating from the belt – that appear like precise folds made by the tightness of the belt (although they may in all probability really be sewn down). 

Once more, as with belts, there may be minimal distinction when it comes to formality between these choices, however I’d say that if unsure, go for the best type that you just like. An overcoat is an enormous piece of tailoring to get flawed (as I’ve discovered to my price previously). 

On the backside of the coat, there’ll then normally be a single vent that runs all the way in which down, making it simpler to stroll. There are alternative ways wherein the coat might be pleated right here, however the main alternative is whether or not to have buttons enabling the vent to to be fixed, or not. Generally, a sensible coat wouldn’t have buttons, and a extra informal one might. 

Cuffs and swelled edges

Different design components on coats embody turn-back cuffs on the ends of the sleeves. These would appear to be an informal alternative, however have been included on a surprisingly massive variety of formal tailoring kinds through the years, together with night put on. 

Personally, I wouldn’t have turn-back cuffs on a extremely sensible coat although – nicer to depart it clear. 

The identical goes for swelled edges, the place there’s a row of sewing just a few millimetres again from the sting of the coat. This may be an aesthetic element, although it was additionally seen as sensible when it comes to stopping fraying or rips working too far. 

As you’d anticipate, this can be a extra informal element, and most frequently seen on Ulster coats or Polo coats. The latter is an fascinating case when it comes to type definitions, given what number of totally different variations there have been through the years. In the long run, it was a garment for a function (maintaining heat after sport) relatively than an outlined design. 

This checklist, for me, is the easiest way to interrupt down the kinds of a tailor-made overcoat, relatively than entering into paddock coats, chesterfields, nice coats and surtouts. 

Such references might be helpful, however they’re simply as prone to get in the way in which. 

Usually they will make an excellent place to begin, relatively than a clear definition. Edward Sexton and I referred to the coat we made in 2016 (under) as an excellent coat, for instance, due to its supposed size and heat. However the pleats and seams on the again wouldn’t have been seen on any conventional nice coat.

Hopefully working via all these sections will assist outline precisely what you need, in the same manner. 

(I can even do extra detailed posts sooner or later, if individuals need. Eg illustrations of all of the pocket choices, or pleat choices within the again. There is not actually room for that right here.) 

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