After autumn’s initial crispness has given way to something bleaker, there are few reasons to feel enthusiastic about the onset of a season of short days and cold nights. For most though, there is comfort to be found in winter's outerwear. On one reading the coat is a suit of armour against the elements, but for most men a coat is so much more than that. The truth is, a man’s coat tells us just as much about the man beneath as it does of his style. With the help of some of best-dressed men that we can think of, here are the 5 coats that every man should own.
Often reinvented but rarely improved, the camel coat has earned its place amongst menswear's greats. Unlike other essential men's outerwear designs, the camel coat's popularity waxes and wanes in a pronounced way (one season the colour is nowhere to be seen, the next it's everywhere).
However, this design's tenacity (variants which riff on the original are surely the best) means that a few seasons in sartorial Siberia will do nothing to dampen the camel coat's enduring appeal.
Richard Gere wears a camel coat in the movie, American Gigolo
Anyone hoping to incorporate heritage design (outerwear or otherwise) into their wardrobe should always exercise a measure of caution. Yes, there's something undeniably nostalgic about sporting the designs that our fathers (or even grandfathers) may have worn, but there's a fine line between looking cool and wearing a costume.
The wisest way to wear a heritage coat? Take an ageless shape (an overcoat should fit the bill) and opt for a contemporary take on a heritage-steeped pattern.
When rendered in an oversized, abstract design, houndstooth offers a new take on heritage outerwear. And there you have the perfect foil for the man who wants to cover up while nodding to both tradition and trend.
Paul Newman wears a herringbone overcoat while shopping with wife Joanne Woodward
The Renoir black aviator jacket
An icon of rebellious youth, the aviator jacket is a design that's been built to last. Although at first glance the design has all the trappings of decorative outerwear, its splayed shearling collar is the very antithesis of sartorial minimalism. And, despite menswear's tendency towards the pared-back, the aviator jacket has stood the test of time to become one of outerwear's most conspicuous icons.
Much like its close cousin (the bomber jacket) the very first aviator jackets were designed with warmth and function in mind. Our favourite versions for this season still offer that same robust practicality, but add an unabashed luxury to the design when realised in smooth leather and soft shearling.
James Dean wears an aviator jacket circa 1955
The beauty of the peacoat lies in its heritage of utility, having been first worn by sailors to take on artic waters over 300 years ago. Few outerwear styles can boast the timelessness of the peacoat. That's why the original design has scarcely changed. Most often crafted from wool, fully lined and with a large collar that's particularly useful for fending off gale force winds, this outerwear design is a man's best friend when skies turn sour.
Utility aside, the peacoat's smart double-breasted silhouette seems to have been adding debonair flair to men's winter wardrobes for time immemorial. What's more, the peacoat is one of the easiest outerwear designs to wear. It is for this reason that the style has garnered a natural affinity for generations of men.
To get the most out of the your peacoat now, opt for a design in a classic navy, grey or black hue. You can be sure that for winters to come you'll find it just as pleasing to wear as you do now.
Serge Gainsbourg wears a peacoat at the edge of a bay
Transcending utilitarian origins, the bomber jacket is a surprisingly versatile outerwear fixture and is prized for its fuss-free approach to style. Worn by presidents, movie stars and (of course) pilots, bomber jackets have the ability to offer their wearer either cool indifference or statement style.
The bomber jacket can be dressed up or down and worn with practically anything. This is no doubt key to its survival in the wardrobes of the most sartorially discerning men year after year.
The definitive version of the bomber jacket (the MA-1) is still worn today by style aficionados, but we favour refined styles which take all that is appealing about the core design and inject a lighter, more luxurious feel.
Humphrey Bogart wears a bomber jacket in the movie, Tokyo Joe