Mention the word overcoat and images of Sherlock Holmes might come to mind. For the older generation, the word awakens the ghost of Cary Grant.
These days, the classic overcoat 'of old' is usually seen at events frequented by male peacocks such as Pitti Uomo. Alas, due to Australia's warmer climate, only the southern states will be rugging up and celebrating in true dapper style this winter.
As with various styles of shoes, suits and collars, overcoats are named according to occasion, design and origin. The greatcoat, ulster coat, redingote, paletot coat, trench coat and so forth have various points of difference, but today, many men would gravitate towards a particular brand or designer, rather than the style itself.
Gentleman prefer navy
Since overcoats are made from heavy fabrics such as wool, you might imagine Australia taking the lead in creating these distinct garments, but no.
Our cousins in Italy, France, the US and the UK are the more serious manufacturers of today's overcoats. This mainly comes down to climate and a sense of generational style and culture, which was birthed in the late 18th century.
Back then, the overcoat finished off a gentleman's winter look. He commonly worn lighter colours such as camel, yet many today would prefer navy, grey or black due to the difficulty in keeping lighter colours clean.
Top of the town
In the 1930s, men would dress in a light grey or camel overcoat, which typically draped beneath the knee, a white winter scarf and a pair of chamois gloves. What a handsome sight indeed.
Yet here in Australia many men are actually wearing the topcoat not the overcoat. This is not so much due to its lighter fabric but because of the length. The topcoat extends only to the knee as its longest length and found its place in a man's wardrobe in the 1970s due to its sharper silhouette, versatility, practical style rather than its dramatic full-length brother, which was the originally defined overcoat. I must say, though, that I was partial to Keanu Reeves' Matrix-length leather overcoat.
How to top it
The rules have certainly been broken since the 18th century, as many an Aussie gent will happily throw on a T-shirt under a merino wool topcoat, a pair of Diesel jeans, and Valentino luxury sneakers. The most versatile of these topcoats are certainly the double-breasted, the trench coat and the single-breasted coat.
Choosing either a double-breasted or a single-breasted topcoat will get you out of the winter doghouse this season. For an on-trend purchase, nothing goes past a camel-coloured trenchcoat or a topcoat of a more military feel. If you were lucky enough to snap up one of the H&M x Balmain pieces earlier this year, you'll know exactly what I mean.
Who is leading the charge with the topcoat down under? Check out the winter collections at Belstaff, COS, Burberry, M.J. Bale, Ted Baker and Farage.
Scroll through the gallery above for a look at the latest topcoats to rug up this winter.
Experience within retail trend analysis companies has earned Louise Edmonds cred in the luxury menswear sector. The founder of MenStylePower.com utilises her passion and understanding of fashion to deliver a fresh, edgy take on men's style.