Wearing an overcoat during the colder months of the year does not necessarily mean BORING. You can still look elegant in your winter wear if you just follow these simple do’s and dont’s to rocking an overcoat.
Do’s & Dont’s To Stay Stylish & Warm In An Overcoat
Want to learn the difference between an overcoat, a topcoat or a greatcoat? Please check out this guide.
1. Avoid Black Boring Overcoats
Don’t just buy the same black dull overcoat that every other man out there has. Black, in my opinion, is quite overrated especially for overcoats because it shows every little hair and dust speck and you just blend in.
At the same time, an overcoat gives you the opportunity to stand out from the crowd, and so I urge you to consider other colors such as brown, tan, maybe different color mixes.
2. Opt For Knee Length Overcoats
Traditionally, it’s a very classic look that won’t go out of style anytime soon. If you go to the department store these days, you will find lots of shorter overcoats because that’s the current fashion, at the same time, it won’t stand the test of time, and it makes you colder.
The proper overcoat length can be very flattering to your look, and it should be proportional to your height. If you’re a shorter man, go with something that is knee length or slightly shorter. If you’re a taller man, go with something knee length or slightly longer. If you’re of regular height, just go with something around knee length. If you watch old movies, you can sometimes see men wearing overcoats that reach all the way down to the ankle, and while that keeps you warmer, it has a very stodgy old world look, and in my opinion, it makes you look less attractive.
3. Go For 100% Natural Overcoat Materials
Unfortunately, even expensive overcoats these days are often blended because it makes the fabric less costly and thus more affordable or increases the profit margins of the manufacturer. While polyester nylon fibers can make a garment more durable, they’re not as insulating as natural fibers such as cashmere, or wool, or alpaca, and because of that, I’d stay clear of them. They also don’t age as well and so 100% natural materials will always be your best bet.
Personally, I’m a huge fan a 100% wool for overcoats because it’s heavy, not too expensive, it doesn’t absorb water, and it keeps me warm. Cashmere is really lovely and soft to the touch, however, for overcoats, it’s too lightweight, and so I find it not to be warm enough for the colder days of the year.
4. Avoid Zippers At All Costs
Yes, you can see them in ski jackets and functional jackets but an overcoat is a classic garment that is stylish, and as such, you’d go with buttons. In case you go with a duffle coat, you can also have wooden toggles.
5. Stand Out In Double-Breasted Overcoats
Yes, it’s true that single-breasted coats are the norm out there but double breasted ones make you stand out from the crowd and on top of that, they keep you warmer because they have two layers of fabric on top of each other versus a single-breasted, it just has one layer and it’s buttoned in the middle.
If you opt for a double-breasted overcoat, make sure it has peak lapels because that’s a classic style or an Ulster collar which is also appropriate for DB overcoats. Stay away from notch lapels in double-breasted overcoats because it makes it look like from the 80s and it’s just historically incorrect.
6. Don’t Forget The Hat
An overcoat is excellent when worn with a hat because it keeps you warmer and because it’s a classic garment, it is stylish, a hat always works well together. For a darker, more formal overcoat, a fedora is an ideal choice. Alternatively, you can also go with a Homburg hat. If you want to be a little more casual, I suggest you go with a flat cap or a newsboy cap, and if you need to be really warm, you can opt for something that covers your ears such as maybe a sheepskin hat.
Personally, I live in Minnesota where the winters get really cold, but fortunately, I haven’t had to resort to those kinds of hats yet.
7. Boutonnieres & Pocket Squares Are Your Friends
If your overcoat has a buttonhole on a lapel, you should wear a boutonniere because it’s very stylish. If your lapels have buttonholes on either side, always wear it on your left. If your overcoat has a chest pocket, you can also wear a pocket square. Ideally, only if it’s a traditional chest pocket, and not if it is flapped.
8. Baggy Overcoats Make You Look Unattractive
First of all, determine how you want to wear your overcoat. If you do want to wear a jacket underneath, make sure you have enough room in your overcoat. Ideally, bring a jacket when you try them on and make sure you have enough space in the shoulder area and the upper arm in your sleeve.
Otherwise, you can end up with a large coat in the torso that is just too tight in the sleeves, and that limits the range of movement. Otherwise, regarding fit, the same principles apply as they do in jackets so I urge you to check out our guide on how a suit should fit.
9. Look For Striking Yet Classic Details
No, I don’t want you to wear bright orange reflective overcoats. However, I urge you to consider maybe an exciting weave in the fabric; it’s super versatile because you can wear all kinds of suits. Alternatively, you could also go with a bold pattern, a classic would be a herringbone, and they can be oversized, don’t get something that is too small, you can wear it for a suit but not for overcoats. You can also go with epaulets, angle pockets, maybe cuffs, or whatever you like. They’re all classic details, and it’s just fun to play with them on an overcoat.
10. Avoid Overcoat Trends
Don’t buy overcoats that combine the styles of different overcoats because they will look dated very quickly. Designers often want to add a little twist to their overcoat, and so they start mixing patterns and details from traditional overcoats. Most of the time, they look just weird.
For example, if you have a trench coat, it should be made out of a cotton gabardine. If you start making it in a wool fabric or leather, the look is just very unadvantageous, and it makes you look like someone from the 80s or 90s.
11. Do Invest in a Good-Quality Overcoat
Don’t be afraid to invest a little money in a good-quality overcoat because it’s something that will last you longer than a suit most of the time and you also have to buy fewer of them. It’s going to be a lasting investment, and you really want to find something that drapes well and flatters you because you can combine it with your entire wardrobe.
12. Don’t Be Afraid To Go Vintage
Personally, I love vintage overcoats because they have heavier fabrics that drape really well and on top of that, they have interesting color combinations. In fact, most of the overcoats in my collection are vintage, and I always get compliments when I wear them so wherever you are, keep your eyes open.
13. Overcoats & Casual Attire Don’t Mix
If you want to wear your sweatpants, maybe go with a quilted jacket or a hoodie and leave the overcoat at home. Mixing those two elements just show “Oh I want to dress up, but at the same time I don’t,” and it just makes you look odd. The same is true for accessories such as baseball hats; they simply wouldn’t go with an overcoat.
14. The Heavier The Overcoat, The Better
Do look for heavy fabrics in an overcoat because they’re much more forgiving, they don’t show wrinkles as easily, and they’ll keep you warm. Today, fabric with 14 – 19 ounces or 420 – 570 grams is considered to be heavy. Back in the day, that was almost a lightweight overcoat, and typically you could find some in 28 – 30 ounces or 850 – 900 grams.
Fortunately, the cloth finishing today is much better, so fabrics are softer which is nice but that doesn’t help you if you don’t stay warm when it’s really windy and cold outside. If you pick up an overcoat, it has to feel substantial and heavy; if it doesn’t, I suggest you leave it behind.
For the same reason, I’m not a huge fan of cashmere overcoats because, in 98% of its time, they’re just a too lightweight and know there’s a substantial version out there I think from Loro Piana and if you can find that it might work out but of course, it also depends on what kind of climate you live.
15. Don’t Show Cuffs On An Overcoat
With regular suit jackets or sport coats, most men want to show a little bit of their shirt cuff. With an overcoat, that’s not the case; you want it to reach all the way down to the beginning of your thumb, that way, it covers your entire jacket it gives a little room to move without letting in the cold air.
At the same time, you don’t want the overcoat sleeve to cover your thumb. Otherwise, it looks too long and like something you just borrowed from your older brother.
16. Do Look For The Little Button In The Vent Area
When it’s very windy, you can just close it and stay warmer that way. If you have a long vent and you don’t have a button, an alterations tailor may be able to add a hidden buttonhole as well as a button so you can apply that.
17. BONUS TIP: Stand Out Even More With Classic Accessories
If you wear an overcoat, try to add classic accessories such as a scarf or gloves. Sometimes if you live in a very mild climate, that may not be necessary, but most of the time, you want them. Opt for dress leather gloves, not your ski gloves, and go with lovely cashmere or wool or alpaca scarves that keep you warm and stylish.