The Coat Project 4

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camel-coat1I had the first fitting last week for my bespoke overcoat – a traditional polo coat in camel hair, with the addition of a full-length pleat in the back that can be adjusted depending on what is worn underneath. (See previous instalment here.)

Earlier in the week I had seen a very similar model in Larusmiani of Milan. But though that had a full-length pleat, it was sewn together underneath the belt, which was not adjustable. Full marks for style, not so much on the practicality.

In an English September still enjoying 23-degree heat, the coat felt like a duvet (even with one arm missing). While the camel hair is very soft and has a lovely handle, it is also spongier than cashmere and can more easily resemble a tough (though luxurious) blanket.

Normally, tailors would make the coat one-and-a-half sizes bigger than a customer’s suit. My tailor Russell at Graham Browne had gone for just one size bigger, yet it was still a little large around the waist even on the smallest setting. I put this down to the extra material of the pleat; we took quite a few tucks in the cloth and it will be ripped down and recut for a second basted fitting.

camel-coat2The coat was also slightly longer than I expected, but I think this was an optical illusion created by the slight flare Russell had included, to make sure it was comfortable to walk in when fastened on the smallest setting. We took that in a bit too.

The split sleeve is a tailoring skill that is nice to show off, with the shoulder seam joining the sleeve seam to form one continuous line. But I think it also complements the style of the coat overall, something that will be particularly shown by the raised seams once the coat reaches its next stage.

I was interested to see that the canvas extends down the whole length of the coat, from chest to bottom seam. Apparently that not only adds shape but is essential for the lining and front seam to affix to. Most ready-to-wear coats will not include a full-length canvas, but rather a fused cotton layer from the bottom of the chest downwards.

Next basted fitting at the beginning of next week, though there is likely to be little to report except our struggles to get the fit right with the pleat. Perhaps just some nice photos.


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Simon Crompton is a journalist and a style enthusiast living in London, who blogs at permanentstyle.blogspot.com. He has too many suits.