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Coats & Jackets

Four ways to wear an overcoat this autumn

Four ways to wear an overcoat this autumn

In our eyes, autumn officially starts on the first day you reach for an overcoat. Admittedly, our impatience to wear that most classic and flattering piece of outerwear means that autumn can sometimes ‘start’ halfway through July. But this year, thanks to the heatwave, we’ve only just taken ours out of the dust bag.

An overcoat is that magical item that looks good on everyone, works over practically anything and requires next to no thought besides a glance at the forecast. "I’m always my most confident in an overcoat," says Thread stylist Toby Standing. "If the coat fits well, you just look good."

To test that theory, we took one of favourites out to the woods to see how it slotted over four of our go-to autumn looks. By ‘favourite’, we mean one with a soft silhouette, without too much padding in the shoulders and enough length to swish when you walk, which means it looks as good over a suit as it does with your cosiest jumper. You also want one that works with everything that might sit beneath it. “Plain colours, or certain subtle patterns like checks, work nicely,” says Toby. “Then if you want to make it feel less serious, try popping the collar to make it a little bit more casual.”

The smart-casual solution

“There are lots of different types of overcoats, but the Chesterfield is the most common and it’s the one that we’ve shot here,” says Toby. “It’s got the least amount of waist suppression, which means it doesn’t taper in too much.” That lack of shape translates to versatility; a coat with too much structure tends to look better dressed up.

Remove the coat and you’ve got a look that sits at the very casual end of smart-casual. With it, you add a tailored note that lifts the whole look. ”A polo is a little bit smarter than a tee, but paired with a mid-wash denim and the brogue boots, it treads the line between formal and informal.”

The formal get-up

“This is the perfect example of how an overcoat should fit,” says Toby. “It’s not bulky, even with the extra layer of a blazer underneath. That’s a sign that you’ve got the balance between streamlined and spacious just right.”

On the topic of suiting: like your suit jacket, your new coat might come with two small threads, in the shape of an X, that secure the back vent. Snip them off. They’re there to keep your garment from getting out of shape while travelling, but have no place once the coat’s in your wardrobe because they prevent it from hanging properly and mean the fabric pulls and tugs when you move.

The minimalist

There a fewer more pleasing pairings than the heavy fabric of an overcoat wrapped around the fine wool of a rollneck. Something about the contrast in shape and material turns two simple pieces into an outfit that always feels distinctive.

“This falls on the smarter end of smart-casual, and it’s a really good example of how to wear an overcoat in a minimal, Scandinavian way,” says Toby. To balance the not-too-tight fit of the coat, go for trousers cut with enough space to more freely. Though beloved by rappers, the skinny-jeans-and-baggy-coat combination tends to make normal men look like they’re about to topple over.

The low-key weekend

If you’re the kind of person who likes to layer, then make sure you have a coat that plays ball. “You want to at least be able to wear a thick jumper underneath it,” says Toby. “And you don’t want to end up with that stuffed sleeves look.”

If you get that right, then this look is evidence of just how easy an overcoat is to wear. “It can be the final thing you throw on before leaving the house, and it works perfectly as that finishing note," says Toby. "No matter your outfit.”


Words: Tess Harold
Photography: Jon Cardwell
Styling: Brooke Philips