‘Maybe it’s because I’m a Londoner, that I love London town’, and just to add my own rhyming line of lyrics; ‘But the wind, rain and cold sure can get me down.’ It is a fact of the locality that come mid-October, London gets more than a little chilly. The thing is that it keeps getting colder until about mid-March; so for November, December, January and February, it’s best to prepare yourself for the harshness that winter weather can bring. Having made a few mistakes in the past, both in terms of sartoria and in terms of my own health, I offer this advice to you in advance of the colder weather yet to come.
Firstly, do not assume because it is still October, that it can’t really get that cold yet; it can be very cold at this time of year. I have suffered in the past because of this blasé attitude towards seasonal changes. Throw a wet arm out of the window and feel the temperature; don’t rely on your calendar. I used to be very fortunate when I was younger that I used to avoid seasonal difficulties like sore throats, blocked noses, awful headaches and aching limbs. Now, it seems my youthful luck has run out; I have felt decidedly poorly twice, and it is not even November.
I like overcoats. I was not exactly firing on all cylinders about them until recently as I felt that men with slight figures, such as myself, looked rather more emaciated and refugee-like in an overcoat; they were for ‘serious’ people, most weren’t particularly attractive items of clothing and there was a disagreeable utilitarian quality to them for me; as they were essentially for keeping me warm and nothing else, I refused to believe they could ever be used to cut a dash.
However, now I find the overcoat is one of the most essential items in a man’s wardrobe. I have a covert coat from Cordings in dark grey. Similar to the Chesterfield coat, the covert coat (pictured below) is famous for the velvet collar, the extra ticket pocket on the right hand side and the hard wearing stiff wool fabric of which it is constructed. Youthful and practical, it looks fabulous when it is made well and is of an appropriate size. The diagram below shows a gentleman wearing the coat in a perfect size. At point 1, the width of the shoulders is correct; one can look juvenile in a coat that looks too big. At point 2, the coat falls to the correct level; just above the knee. Any lower and the coat will look cumbersome, rather like the way Fagin wore coats in Oliver Twist.
Classic double breasted overcoat
The other overcoat worth mentioning is one of equal importance, and perhaps higher stature; the double breasted overcoat with peaked lapels. Looking rather like a thicker and elongated jacket from a double breasted suit, this overcoat is favoured by the smartest of the older generation – Prince Charles is the leading grandee of the double-breasted overcoat brigade. It has beautiful lines and angles and this can result in a very satisfying sharpness for the figure. They are harder to find than single breasted overcoats, and they are also harder to fit; even beautifully made coats that should fit me perfectly feel a little off in places, perhaps because of the very particular nature of such a coat. A tailored version will look wonderful buttoned-up, open, or, frankly, screwed up in a heap on the floor; it is the Rembrandt of outerwear.
They can be expensive, and the versions pictured (both Ralph Lauren) look fantastic in terms of cut because of a lack of clothing worn underneath. Add a suit and it can destroy the silhouette. Always try on overcoats with clothing that, in the depths of winter, one might be forced to wear. Unsightly, unwelcome and unexpected lumps can appear if too small an overcoat is worn over a suit.