It has become my custom to look forward to the new season. Spring is just around the corner, and my thoughts have strayed – as is their wont – from the chilly dullness of the present to the blossom and breeze to come. However, it seems a little age and experience have crept into my thinking of late as I found myself glancing over my shoulder at the dying remains of the recent winter sale; those little red and white signs hidden between the mannequins in the glorious new window displays that beckon the bargain-barons; ‘Sale Continues Inside.’
One such store I passed made it even easier for the insatiable sale hunter. At Ede & Ravenscroft, the sales are relatively discreet and usually, they only last a month. However, their coat sale has continued well into February with tens of covert coats, double-breasted topcoats and tweed coats languishing on the brass-plated rails of their smart stores. With all this looking forward, however pleasant it may be, it is wise to take these glances back – with the seasons, one glance back is worth two forward: by October, a man would be glad of such action.
If you can’t justify a bespoke top or overcoat from the Row – the very last word in outer-elegance – buying a decent sale coat is the next best alternative and there’s no better time to buy than now.
Style of coat
Most of the coats I have seen in the London sales have been single-breasted in navy, tan and charcoal grey. Black is not a colour I’d advise for an overcoat as it is very much a colour for eveningwear and as such would only be sensible if a navy and charcoal grey were already present in the wardrobe. Black coats also have a tendency to look cheap and unrefined as there is no depth to the tone.
Single breasted coats are more versatile than double-breasted coats as they can easily be worn open, although a fastened double-breasted coat is certainly more formal.
Most of the coats you see on the racks of high street retailers are a wool-poly mix; a soft, fluffy fabric but low in durability as increased use will lead to unattractive bobbling. Unless you are buying cashmere (a fabric that defies bobbling), it is best to choose a coat in a hardwearing twill.
Don’t be put off by a slightly short or long sleeve, or a cheap looking button. These things can all be adjusted very inexpensively by an experienced tailor.
The worst thing to do is buy a top or overcoat that is too small. I have made this mistake before and when done to an extreme, no tailor in town will be able to help. If you’re more likely to button your coat up, go up a size – you can always have adjustments made.