Tuesday, December 03, 2013

Winter 2013: Men's Topcoats Round-up

Mad-libbing this entire piece crossed my mind, but I'm too good for that?

A round-up of pea coats was done recently, so I thought I'd do one of topcoats too since they are so similar. How so? Both are traditional/classic styles, and in being so, are cost effective winter coats because they last across multiple seasons. Better to overdress than underdress, and quite a few clothiers make them. And finally, they come in both expensive and cheap offerings.

Seriously, you should read the pea coats round-up to see how much of this I lifted off that one -- I'm not proud of myself.

Topcoats: What the?
How would I describe a topcoat?

There are various designs and probably a standard definition out there in the fashion world, but when I think topcoat, I think 3/4 long wool coat down to about the knees (at or slightly above). It's kind of a pea coat with buttons except single-breasted and longer. The ones I've seen usually come black, grey herringbone, and camel (tan-ish). That's about where the similarities end though.

I have seen double-breasted and full-length models. Whether they're actually "top coats" by definition, I have no clue. The single-breasted version is my preference as the opening nicely emphasizes a proper suit, dress shirt, or whatever outfit that is worn within. A double-breasted coat works too, but it may obscure what's inside a bit more than I prefer.

My Banana Republic Topcoat Front

I No Likey Topcoats
Don't get me wrong, topcoats are absolutely gorgeous coats. They are very formal, add an air of sophistication to an outfit, work in both casual and formal settings, and keep you warm being covering about 3/4 of one's body.

What's my problem then?

I'm short. There: I said it.

Part of the beauty of the topcoat is that it is long and emphasizes height. When you're 5'4" and not paper thin with a bit of bulk, height is the last thing you want to draw attention to -- stalky. Oh, and yes, I do have a topcoat. There was a fashion/clothes binge a few years back when I got a casual winter jacket, my awesome pea coat, and my expensive, barely used topcoat from Banana Republic. To be fair, the coat was actually a pretty good length that ended right above my knees.

On the functional side, the single-breasted nature of the topcoat secured shut with but 3 buttons also made me freeze. The low V-neck didn't help either. And the pockets weren't enough. Being such a gorgeous coat, I also didn't want to weigh down and/or bulk the pockets up. Double-breasted versions would probably alleviate the "not warm enough" problem with single-breasted versions.

What's available this year?
Regardless, here's a round-up of some topcoats from a few random stores. For your information, I got my coat just after Christmas using a coupon on top of a post-Christmas sale, if I recall correctly. I believe I paid around CAD$ 180 for it. Regular price was CAD$ 300-ish. Materials: 77% wool, 23% nylon.

Banana Republic Grey Donegal Topcoat: US$ 298.00
Is the season over already? Only regular XS and tall XXL are available at the time of writing for this 72% wool, 22% nylon, 4% polyester, and 2% acrylic coat (website). This is a single-breasted coat with three-buttons and a rear center vent, and it fits my own definition of a topcoat quite well. The coat goes down to about the mid-thigh on the model at the BR website. Must admit that I am a bigger fan of grey than black topcoats and this is what I'd get if I had to do it over again -- I wouldn't.

Banana Republic Charcoal Plaid Double-Breasted Topcoat: US$ 298.00
This is one of those "abominations" I was talking about with the double-breasted front. Website says it's 55% wool, 26% nylong, 10% acrylic, 7% polyester, and 2% other. Again, it's double-breasted with a rear center vent, and there appear to be three buttons. The only color available is charcoal and all sizes are still available, XS to XXL, at the time of writing. Length is mid-thigh on the model. A "tall" offering is also available with sizes ranging from M to XXL. It looks good, but I prefer the lighter grey color of the previous jacket.

Other wool "double-layer coats" and "trench coats" are also available in this year's offering from BR. The Gap doesn't appear to have anything resembling a topcoat.
My Banana Republic Topcoat Rear
J.Crew Ludlow Topcoat in wool-cashmere: US$ 450.00
An entire section labeled "Topcoats" is available at J.Crew. The cheapest model is the US$ 450.00 one in wool-cashmere -- no materials breakdown. It has a rear center vent and comes in heather naval blue, saddle, heather grey, and black in both regular and Thinsulate models -- latter is US$ 470.00. At one point, this may have been available from 34/S to 46/L. Many sizes are no longer available at the time of writing. This coat is single-breasted. An English wool (US$ 475.00), glen plaid English wool (US$ 995.00), double-breasted English wool (US$ 895.00), and cashmere model (US$ 1,450.00) are also available -- all single-breasted except the one noted. They land around mid-thigh on the models -- the ones presented with models at least. The camel is oddly my favorite of the bunch despite the fact that it'd never work on me.

Michael Kors Men's Madison Topcoat: US$ 159.00 to $172.98
I just did a quick search on Amazon.com to find whatever and the Michael Kors model is something that came up. Price is moderate and not the lowest available. This one is 65% wool, 25% nylon, 10% cashmere (website), single-breasted with a rear center vent, and comes in camel, charcoal, and black. Material is similar to the Banana Republic models. Looks fine to me.

J.Crew Abingdon Laptop Bag Review
J.Crew Abingdon Messenger Bag Overview
J.Crew Cotton Cashmere Hoodie Review

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