Outerwear – AKA What is Seen First:
The Coat Closet is often the scene of the biggest “fashion crimes” seen during a closet edit. Gender notwithstanding here is where the oldest, most bedraggled, out-of-style, saggy, motheaten garments ever to grace your physique hide in sartorial shame. You know, the leather jacket with the epaulets. The (stained) taupe trench that goes down to your calves, the cashmere topcoat with the giant lapels, and moth damage on the sleeve. Yeah…
So you know you need to upgrade a few pieces. But in what order – what’s important – what’s the minimum number of coats and jackets you need? All this answered and more. Let’s begin by categorizing your outerwear needs into 3 categories:
These are the garments you turn to for a light layer of warmth on a cool summer night or a chilly Fall or Spring day. They may also be used for indoor application when you could be in a chilly over-air-conditioned environment (airplane?) or as a layer under your heavy coat (hockey game?) or (my favorite) as an added Rule of 3 Layer of Styling to your look.
The Shacket is a combination of a shirt and a jacket. It is often made of more heavyweight fabric, like lightweight wool, or flannel, and has an easy tailored appearance. Vests come in hundreds of variations, from this tech vest pictured, to Patagonia fleece, suede, quilted and more. I am a BIG vest fan as they add a style element and climate control. The Field Jacket pictured can be cotton canvas, like a Barn Coat, or a Poly as in this image. This style can also come labeled as a “work” or “utility” jacket and in those cases is often cotton. The Windbreaker is a classic, some men own one longer and more rain repellant for outdoor sports activities. When this poly shell is lined with a warmer fabric it can be called a Warm-up Jacket. Added to this list could be a denim trucker jacket, like the iconic Levi’s variety.
This category will likely get the most use in your collection, ranging within the 3 seasons and with the option of layering in a vest or sweater underneath to extend their use. In this category, we see an optional piece, a rain or trench coat which is targeted to the man who either wears tailored goods to work (those are suits and sportcoats/dress trousers) or the man who has a sophisticated enough collection of coats to include a raincoat solely for his more formal social apparel needs. Bomber jackets may often be leather or suede and they are a classic, casual menswear garment. Wear these with your Ray-Bans (!). Puffer jackets are more trendy, but owning one myself, I can speak to the incredible lightweight and compactable (I can roll up one into my tote bag) nature for the warmth provided. No geese plucked for these, they are just a super lightweight fiberfill. Last, the Hybrid Blazer is a modern take on the classic menswear blazer, worn by the English country set as outerwear, but updated with materials, as the picture shows it in a tech fabric, as well as details such as this removable vest front. I really like the tailored, “dressed” look these jackets bring, even in the most casual settings.
In the heavyweight category warmth is a priority. Materials such high tech (or down) insulating fills and heavy-weight wool and cashmere are the norms. Note the two more formal options, the Top Coat is the longer, more streamlined, elegant version. The Car coat length is shorter, high thigh length and the buttons make it a little more casual. The Pea Coat of course is iconic for casual cold-weather coats. And the parka is an outdoor sporting coat with unlimited variations.
So, what are the coats you need?
- 3 to 6 of the LIghtweight jackets in any order; 2 Vests and one Field Coat – 1 Vest, 1 Windbreaker. Mix up the fabrics – wool, cotton, and poly/tech.
- 2 to 4 of the Midweight Jackets in any order, include the raincoat if you dress professionally; Suggest adding on one in suede.
- 2 of the Heavyweight options, include the Top or Car Coat if you dress professionally. If not, a parka and a “nicer” coat like the Pea or the Car coat will make a good balance.
So now that I’ve spent about $5,000+ updating your coat closet – no joke – outerwear is not cheap, so make sure you are buying timeless styles, with excellent quality and the knowledge you are set for the next decade. And that’s not bad if you do that math for the “thing that is seen first”. Note all I have told you about first impressions… 🙂
Ann Lindsay is Style of Success and J.Hilburn Custom Menswear
I work to make you look and feel effortlessly confident.