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Coats & Jackets

Four ways to wear an overcoat

Four ways to wear an overcoat

Few outer layers are as versatile as the overcoat. A menswear staple since the 19th century, its enduring appeal is proof of its versatility – few other pieces look as good on a king as your mates down the pub.

That’s not to say any old overcoat will do, though. “Fit is the most important aspect,” says Thread stylist Millie Rich. “Unless it’s intentionally oversized, an overcoat should sit comfortably on top of whatever else you’re wearing – not too tight, but not hanging like a blanket over your shoulders either.”

That Goldilocks rule applies to its colour, too. “Try and think about the shades that will get most wear – the ones that’ll sit with other things you own.” Unless you moonlight as a Beefeater, that probably means navy, camel or black. Because these colours work with anything from jeans to tailoring, you could wear the same overcoat every day of the week, if you need to. That’s good news for your cost-per-wear calculations.

The third element is shape. As with a suit, with which the overcoat shares a host of details, a notch lapel – that’s one with a small indentation where the lapel meets the collar – is the most versatile. Peak lapels can veer formal and a shawl collar – which has no indentation at all – tends to be too statement-making. Knowing you can wear your coat with almost anything is reassuring, considering it probably costs more than anything else in your wardrobe.

Finally, think about texture. A coat’s first job is to keep you warm and dry, while looking smart. Which translates to one fabric. “Opt for a simple wool with a smooth finish,” says Millie. “Mottled or mohair can add depth, but they’re not great for smarter looks.” That might seem a lot to consider, but with those boxes ticked, your potential outfits are limitless. We’ve pulled together four of the finest below.

For a smart office

Overcoat for an office

Photographed: Gloverall overcoat (£399); Reiss suit (£425); Reiss shirt (£95); Jigsaw tie (£50)

Outfit: Overcoat, suit, shirt, tie

Why it works: The most important thing when you’re wearing a suit is that your coat covers the jacket. Anything too short and you can see the hem poking out below, which just looks sloppy. “In winter, an overcoat is better with a suit than anything too technical, like a ski jacket, or lightweight, like a trench,” says Millie. “It will keep you warm, but it still looks smart.”

How to wear it well: Any shade of overcoat works with a dark suit, but camel is a great way to add something a bit different. “It elevates your look with another colour,” says Millie. “That way, you’re a bit less monochrome.”

For date night

Overcoat for a date night

Photographed: Gloverall overcoat (£399); Paul Smith rollneck (£195); Reiss trousers (£125)

Outfit: Overcoat, rollneck, woollen trousers

Why it works: “During the winter, layers are key, but that doesn’t mean you can’t still look smart,” says Millie. “An overcoat, when paired with smart-casual options, makes you look like you’ve made an effort without going overboard.” On a date, that’s precisely the look you want.

How to wear it well: Unless it’s snowing, a woolen rollneck and a buttoned-up overcoat should be warm enough. If it's particularly chilly, then a lightweight layer like a cardigan, or unstructured blazer, will keep you toasty.

For  the pub

Overcoat for the pub

Photographed: Gloverall overcoat (£399); Boden jumper (£70); Edwin jeans (£100)

Outfit: Overcoat, knitted jumper, white t-shirt, dark jeans

Why it works: If you get the right style of overcoat, it’s not just for going to and from work. “They’re more than just a formal option,” says Millie, “and can look just as good when worn casually. Knitted sweaters and sweatshirts particularly provide a relaxed counterpoint to their structure.”

How to wear it well: If your coat is neutral, then it’s a blank case for brights elsewhere. “A colour pop will elevate your comfy, go-to weekend style,” says Millie. And you can afford to go a shade above your usual – all that sober fabric will anchor bolder tones.

For the football

Overcoat for the football

Photographed: Gloverall overcoat (£399); MVP sweatshirt (£24); MVP t-shirt (£18); Carhartt jeans (£69); Jigsaw scarf (£80 for similar style)

Outfit Overcoat, neutral knit, jeans, warm scarf

Why it works “The right accessory can lift even the simplest of looks,” says Millie. “And, in this case, that’s the scarf. The light check adds depth and colour, and it’s beyond easy to pair with a more tailored piece like an overcoat.”

How to wear it well: Don’t get bogged down in different scarf knots. To contrast with the structure of your overcoat, a couple of loops around your neck feels the most relaxed.