Diagonal Twill Overcoat

Diagonal Twill Weave Suits And Overcoats

When watching old films and looking at old pictures, I always notice garments, especially overcoats and suits which are made from a heavier, diagonal twill fabric. If the photographs and movies and in color, then chances are the overcoat comes in a plain camel, navy or grey color. Sadly, it is rather difficult to find this pronounced twill any longer but it is still available. In order to fuel your mind with ideas, in case you are in for a new bespoke topcoat or suit, I would like to focus on two fashion drawing from Hurd and Laurence Fellows from the 1930’s.

Diagonal Twill Tocopat In Brown

Diagonal Twill Overcoat in Brown

Diagonal Twill Overcoat in Brown

First, let’s look at Mr. Hurd’s fashion illustration. This is a chesterfield inspired towncoat – and I say inspired, because it lack certain features like a velvet collar – that was rather popular in London and NYC at the time. Typically single breasted with a 4 button fly front and flap pockets, the peak lapels provide a certain touch of elegance. Note, it does have a chest pocket but this gentleman is not wearing a pocket square although that may have even looked better.

Although plain in color, the diagonal texture makes this topcoat very interesting and in my opinion it creates a certain dynamic. The four sleeve buttons clearly indicate that it is a garment for town wear since less formal clothes would have fewer sleeve buttons back then.

The overcoat is best worn with either a derby / bowler hat as seen in the back on the shelve, or a classic a homburg hat. With regard to color, a brown homburg with a black band would look quite good or alternatively a dark grey or charcoal one.

He wears a brown Glen Urquhart suit with a red overplaid, which is made of Saxony tweed. These kind of glencheck suits were  rather popular with the sporting or horsey set back then.

Other accessories include a grey tab collar shirt, colorfully striped repp tie and brown calf leather shoes. Although most shirts today come in hundreds of shades of light blue or white, grey is often looks quite dapper, when combined with brown clothing.

Diagonal Twill Suit


Diagonal Twill Suit

Diagonal Twill Suit

The next garment is a beautiful grey suit in a diagonal twill. Most men would probably never imagine a suit to look like that if they thought of a grey suit. Maybe they’d think of grey flannel but even then, a grey flannel could be so different but this is certainly unique. The grey has a slight hint of lovat green but overall it is grey. Surprisingly, this chap is apparently an undergraduate! In the 1930’s university men were exerted major influence on fashion trends, and so other men adapted their trends off campus.

This characteristic 3 roll 2 single breasted suits has rather slim notched lapels for a 30’s jacket, and of course high cut trousers with double inverted pleats on each side although it is made of a heavy, tweed-like wool. Also, note the soft drape to the jacket. The diagonal pattern really makes the suit standout, although the off white colored flannel waistcoat with black windowpane overchecks is an eyecatcher as well. Although you cannot see that, the jacket carries a center vent. For the rest, a pale oxford shirt with soft, perfectly sized button down collar, solid red crochet knit tie and brown wingtip brogue Scotch grain shoes and a light brown snap brim hat.

I am sure, this suit would also look great without the vest, though the picture also shows us how useful contrasting vest can be sometimes. Note, the bottom vest button remains always unbuttoned for most daywear.

Overall, you should keep your eyes open for diagonal twill fabrics because they are unique yet understated and very sturdy.


6 replies
  1. Henry Liska says:

    I still remeber the first time I saw a diagonal twill suit: I was about 15 years old. My father had just had one made by the Toronto tailor Lou Myles and, on a Saturday morning, put it on for the first time to go to work. I was in the swimming pool. When he came outside to say good bye to me, I couldn’t help thinking that this was was most interesting looking suit I had ever seen. Double breasted. Dark olive green twill with pronounced ribs. Real buffalo horn buttons. I remember he had on dark brown monk strap shoes, I can no longer recall his shirt, tie and pocket handkerchief.

    Strangely enough, I have never had one made. I hope to correct this soon.

    • Sven Raphael Schneider says:

      Dear Henry,

      Thank you for your Diagonal Twill anecdote! I think olive green would look fantastic in it. I am glad I could revive your childhood memories and I look forward to seeing your new diagonal twill jacket or overcoat.
      Apart from that, your website redesign looks excellent.

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