Winter Style #1 – Carhartt Detroit Jacket / Chore Coat
Carhartt, alongside Dickies, are known for being one of the sturdiest names in working menswear. Their jackets, with a blokes’, get-your-hands-dirty vibe, have been a mainstay for generations of outdoors Americans. A litany of youtube videos have been made about these jackets by men who couldn’t care less about the fashion world – yet absolutely adore their Carhartt jacket and its lined interior, impenetrable to cold weather. Originally used as workwear, the jacket (and brand) has since been adopted by urban retailers of street fashion- a new market the Carhartt brand has since embraced and aimed its product lines at.
Years ago I ordered a Carhartt Chore coat in brown, but was disappointed to find the fit didn’t suit me. However, this year I was unable to resist and gave them another go, ordering a Carhartt Detroit Jacket just days before seeing ‘Interstellar’ – whose protagonist coincidentally dons the jacket throughout the film (which appears to have caused a worldwide depletion of stock).
I’m of a larger build, and prefer slim fitting clothes. When my jacket arrived, as before I found problems with the fit. Unfortunately Carhartt don’t seem to tailor to the kind of cut I look for: tall, broad shoulders – but cut close to the body. This is probably a result of their products being aimed at workers who are interested in wearability and ease of movement, and urban fashion, who prefer a loose fit. The adjustable buttons at the back waist helped draw the jacket in but I’ve unfortunately abandoned the it in pursuit of an alternative tan coloured winter jacket, a la the Levi’s Cord Sherpa.
Regardless of my experiences leaving me a little disappointed, I maintain that these classic Carhartt jackets command timeless style, and would be the perfect piece to add to a casual orientated wardrobe.
Complete the winter look with: flannel shirts, plain t-shirts, jeans and boots.
Winter Style #2 – The Military Coat
My better half is is adamant that the military coat fell out of fashion a couple of years ago, and judging by its absence from recent product lines in big menswear brands, this might well be the case. However, as a believer in timeless, generation-spanning cool (as opposed to following seasonal trends) I would maintain that the military coat is still a piece that can be worn to fantastic effect. The case for this coat was proved to me on the tube on Saturday night, where I saw a tall, slim figure wearing a navy military coat which cascaded over black jeans and black boots. It worked to form a striking look – built from relatively casual clothes.
Military coats work great for gents of a tallish stature. Their double-breasted tailoring will add breadth to your figure and can be particularly effective for slimmer guys who want to beef up their appearance. Olive, navy and grey tones are masculine, while buttons create a eye-catching, smart finish. The military coat carries an air of dandy-ness about it, so would probably work better for fellas with a smarter dress sense. These coats stand out in the crowd, suiting individuals – particularly the sort who would spend their time reading literature in coffee shops.
Complete the winter look with: chinos or trousers, brogues or boots, scarves, jumper & oxford shirt combination.
Winter Style #3 – The Overcoat
The men’s overcoat is not a particularly specific thing to write about – but that’s part of the excitement. I remember at university I noticed a group of guys (who usually dressed very casually) in traditional black three-button overcoats, heading down into town in the snow. Even this very straight-forward, typical style of coat made for a powerful look.
The standard overcoat is the Crombie; three-buttons with a blazer lapel – a close relative being the mac/crombie crossover which sports the mac’s overhanging collar. Usually made from a wool material or blend they are particularly comfortable in the colder months. Last year the camel coat was a popular seasonal piece, and one of my favourites came from Topman – sporting a notch lapel and a contrast black collar. As a fan of rockabilly and 50s/60s rock & roll, the coat’s teddy boy, drape jacket design immediately appealed to me. Perhaps the coat peaked last year, but its classic status means a camel coloured over coat will serve you well year-on-year.
What draws us to the overcoat is both the wide array of variations to choose from, as well as versatility. An overcoat can be worn over everything from a suit to a plain t-shirt and scarf combination, always looking dashing. I recently found a vintage overcoat on ebay (with a mac collar – a variation I’d been looking for) which came in a beautiful tweed with multicoloured fleck weave (pictured). My partner was sceptical at first, thinking it a little too Sherlock Holmes, but it struck me as a brilliantly British coat. As a huge subscriber to tweed jackets and wool blazers, it became a great addition to my wardrobe as a very individual piece.
For those who have yet to crossover from casual coats to the kind of overcoat I’ve described, I would recommend going for something smart and simple as a first purchase. It won’t feel like too brave a statement, and will go with just about everything in your wardrobe. Black, Camel and Navy are great colours to begin with. Double-breasted coats look great on slimmer guys, but can push the coat towards more formal use. The vintage option can be a great road to follow in terms of adding something individual to your look – but could come off as a bold statement so you’ll need confidence to carry it off. Old vintage tweed overcoats can provide anything from a dandy-bohemian look to retro British heritage style, or even 80s ‘Breakfast Club’ casual.
Complete the winter look with: just about anything!
Winter Style #4 – The Barbour (Wax Jacket)
Growing up in the rural midlands and spending every school holiday working on the farm, hand-me-down barbour jackets were a wardrobe essential. They definitely weren’t a stylistic choice – evidenced by a coat five-sizes too big that my grandfather once filled. Arriving at Durham University, I found myself among herds of rahs and sloanies, with duplicate outfits of Hunters and Jack Wills, topped with brand-new Barbours. It was enough to put me off the coat I’d known so well.
Upon graduating, I couldn’t help but return to this old favourite. In Autumn and Winter, there are few coats that can rival it’s versatility; it will keep you completely dry in the harshest storm, and if you pair it with a jumper, you won’t even feel the winter. At the same time, it is light enough to be worn with a t-shirt at the start of autumn or the end of spring. Its stoic British colours – navy, black, brown and green are classic in feel, and even the checked linings out-do most flannel shirts (despite not being visible when worn).
Fortunately, Shoreditch and Brighton have done something to reclaim the wax jacket, and you can pick up decent imitations from most mid-range vintage shops. If you really want to invest in a coat though, a wax Barbour will last you generations – and that trademark smell will inhabit brilliant memories.
Complete the winter look with: black jeans, tartan scarves, brown brogues and chelsea boots.
Winter Style #5 – The Duffle Coat
The duffle is a coat that can be more difficult to pull off to its full effect. This can be accorded to its twee, old-British style, as well as its association with indie, left-field characters (including –according to Wikipedia – Belle & Sebastian, left-wing politicians, Jonathan Creek and Paddington Bear). Perhaps in an attempt to move away from these connotations, mainstream high-street outlets often sell variations on duffle coats which are modernised, but this in turn tends to depreciate their character, and results in a dull watering down of their style. Due to this, it is increasingly difficult to find good duffle coats.
The modern duffle coat is already a look that falls onto the indie side of menswear, and again tends to suit men of a Topman (slender) build. The spectrum of these coats, already starting in indie territory, continues into vintage pieces with a variety of rustic and dated colour palettes. Recommended for those who want individual pieces (which take one step away from modern urban fashion and one step towards Wes Anderson), worn with the right outfit, their individuality will set you apart from a crowd, without having to overdress.
Complete the winter look with: layers, heritage and earthy colours, knitwear, checked shirts.