Wool for Winter Part 3: The Topcoat
But then comes January. Another Snowpocalypse, maybe. Sleet. Rain. Ice. The fucking bastard wind. What you need is more than a mere coat… you need sartorial armor.
The whole point of this series is wool, so we ask you to consider the sheep. Sheep spend their entire lives out of doors, mostly in places with really crummy climes like Scotland and Canada. You don’t see them shaking with cold though. The rain bounces right off their backs and the wind never reaches their skin. They’re covered in wool. If you want to stand outside for hours in January feeling as comfortable as you would in a bathrobe at home, get yourself a good quality wool sweater, cover it with a tweed blazer, and finish it off with a heavy wool topcoat.
The British know a thing or two about dressing well in shite weather. They invented the topcoat, and are still making some of the best ones money can buy. Iconic heritage brands like Burberry and Aquascutum set the archetype with pieces like Aqua’s Sargent Classic, and Burberry’s model, which is so stuffy and British that it’s simply called ‘Long Wool Top Coat.’ This Hackett London offering, the Smithfield Classic will also take you up and down Jermyn Street, or Thames Street for that matter, in ease, comfort and style.
Are we seriously suggesting that you go up to the Burberry store at Towson and spend $1200 on a coat? Of course not. That would be stupid.
We’re suggesting that you look around at the top of the market to get an idea for materials, style, construction, etc, and then hit eBay. There are a certain few items which eBay really excels at selling, and overcoats are one of them. A quick search of the term ‘overcoat’ in Men’s Clothing turns up 2500 results, which can then be easily sorted by price, brand, material, etc. If you need a common size like 42 or 44, so much the better. (No need to size up for topcoats. They’re designed to fit layers of clothing underneath.) The price-to-value ratio on some of those eBay coats is really outstanding.
Aside from the huge cost savings, availing yourself of a vintage overcoat is a great way to carry off a bit of classic or retro style without looking like you shop exclusively in Brooklyn boutiques or like you’re playing Mad Men dress-up. A good quality topcoat is made to stand up to the elements, but will also stand up to its owners’ wear and handing-down exceedingly well, and most vintage topcoats available are in excellent or very good condition.
Modern Science may be pretty wonderful in a lot of ways, but Gore-Tex and other materials will never, ever be able to match super 120′s wool for warmth, windproofing and durability… not to mention style. A solid wool topcoat is just as well suited for running around Baltimore today as it was for hustling through Vienna more than 60 years ago, as demonstrated here by Orson Welles in The Third Man.