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VANITY: The Right Coat for Cooler Weather
V.K. Nagrani
 
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In an era where looking stylish is becoming increasingly important, you need to have the complete lowdown on menís winter coats before youíre able to choose the right one for your wardrobe. Todayís sartorial style demands that you steer clear of conventional wisdom. Renewed versions of traditional menís coats have showed up on most major runways this season. While inspirations are from decades past, the results are tastefully modern. The latest reinventions are part fashion accessory, part strategic layering. The result: A sophisticated look.


SIX CLASSIC STYLES
Aside from providing protection from natureís elements, a coat exudes power and confidence. Architectural silhouettes, luxurious wools, unexpected details and touches with furs make it essential to score the right coat. Select your coat from six of the most recognized outerwear classics.

1. The Car Coat: The deconstructed, A-cut coat, in canvas or wool extends to the middle of the thigh. Originally created for comfortable driving, the coat is now an indispensable addition to your wardrobe.
2. The Chesterfield: A full-length tailored coat of herringbone tweed, often paired with its signature black velvet collar. The definitive pick for formal wear.
3. The Duffle: The medium-length hooded wool coat features horn buttons and oversized pockets. The nonconformist shape is synonymous with classic British style.
4. The Peacoat: A naval-inspired double-breasted worsted wool coat featuring oversized lapels and large buttons. Ideal to show off an effortlessly stylish vibe.
5. The Top Coat: The medium-length tailored coat, often made with gabardine wool, is best worn with business attire.
6. The Trench: Forever classic, it remains a fall fashion staple. A raincoat developed by Burberry for the British military, this casually versatile coat is a basic essential that appeals to many men.

BASIC COAT REQUIREMENTS
For the fearfully uninitiated, consider your lifestyle and wardrobe needs before choosing a color or cut. Opt for a coat that has sustainability. Tailored or not, coats should be cut close to the body in order to retain warmth as oversized coats allow cold air to seep in. Attention to detail, form and function will save dollars on redundant outerwear in your closet.

SINGLE VS. DOUBLE BREASTED
The single-breasted coat creates a slimmer shape with its narrow overlap and singular row of buttons (three or four). It is considered a timeless choice as it can be worn open or buttoned down.
The double-breasted coat brings a robust feel, with its double row of buttons (four or six)óalthough there is only a single row of buttonholes. The overlap of fabric, where the left panel covers the right panel by several inches, hints toward a bespoke elegance.

PROPER COAT LENGTH
A medium- or three-quarter-length coat should fall a few inches above your knee. A precise fitted three-quarter-length coat will elevate your status with an authoritative presence. Ideal for men of all sizes and shapes. On the other hand, a full-length coat or overcoat should fall around the lower level of your shins. A tailor made, longer overcoat will add an especially polished finish to your formal attire. This is a perfect example of a coat that works well for men taller than 5í10".

THE RIGHT COAT FOR THE RIGHT WARDROBE
For casual, weekend or sport wear, the quintessential peacoat is the standard for both warmth and uncompromising good looks. Consider a trip to your local thrift shop or military surplus store to locate a truly authentic government-issued kind. Youíll recognize one when you see a venerable 1" x 1" white tag stitched onto the inside. Forego the tiresome logos and brands in favor of a steadfast symbol of American quality. A slightly quirky patch on the sleeves will show off a sturdy character with a hint of grand luxury. But, do have your tailor mold the coat to your body for a good fit. For style-conscious men with European tastes, the iconic duffle coat offers a cool edge with a twist of British class just as easily.
For the man on the go, who finds himself more often in business casual than not, a medium-length topcoat is a must have. A cleverly crafted topcoat looks sharp when worn over soft trousers and a sports jacket. The lightweight topcoat is highly functional yet low maintenance for jetsetters and executives alike. With handsomely smart touches and superb drape and feel, for traditionalists itís the perfect accompaniment to formal or business attire. Consider it a brilliant investment that works exceptionally well in any context that mandates a coat from day to night.
Evening wear demands the Chesterfield as the coat of choice. Created in the 1830s for the French aristocracy, this coat remains the regal option for outerwear. Giving an authoritative appearance, the Chesterfield is compulsory for formal events during the winter season. An elegantly elongated black overcoat for the rest of us brings out an equally gorgeous classic and surprisingly contemporary effect.

ON THE COATTAILS OF FALL 2007
Men are veering away from leather in favor of wools this season. Brent Cheney, head buyer for Maloufís, a luxury clothing store, says a surge of requests for a chocolate-brown, mandarin-collared car coat signals a triumphant result for color. "Easy and wearable, this coat creates a refined layered look without the bulk. In the non-traditional brown, it works best with denim and most other casual wear." Natural fibers creating worsted wools and luxe cashmeres adhere to traditional eleganceómeticulously produced coats that move with you rather than against you. Muted colors such as camels, grays and navys have replaced antiquated blacks to make striking statements. More daring arrays of browns will create a manís personal hallmark of style.

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