The Camel Coat

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camel-coat

I wandered into Zara recently to have a mooch around. It’s not a store in which I seek inspiration but for some reason, inspiration seems to creep up and bang me on the head rather often. Exactly two years ago, while on holiday, I purchased a charming check coat from the Lisbon branch. Exactly a year later, my eye was caught by a rather splendid deep blue coat and the other day, not expecting to see anything of interest, I winced – in the knowledge that I would soon be a trifle poorer – when I saw a rather attractive double breasted camel coat. Whether I bought the Zara model or settled on another, I knew I had found the overcoat for 2010.

I had never considered a camel coat before. I have always thought myself a little fair-skinned to wear such a colour, particularly in the depths of winter when my pallor is at it’s most shockingly colourless. My first counterargument when I tried the coat on and admired it’s shape, size and surprisingly flattering colour was that I still had the remnants of a summer tan, that my hair was flatteringly sun kissed and that by the time the season had arrived for wearing such a garment, my tan would have disappeared and my hair returned to it’s anonymous mousiness.

Fit

Fit is always important but with a darker coat, you can get away with little imperfections. Camel coats do not allow such imperfections to go unnoticed because the eye is drawn to them; a little too much width or length and the effect is disastrous. This is certainly a coat you can buy off the rack but it’s a very good idea to ask a tailor to check the fit for you and make any adjustment suggestions before it’s first outing.

Style

Zara’s model was double-breasted which, when buttoned, was sharp but unbuttoned looked rather ‘flappy.’ Unless you are having one made or adjusted, open double-breasted overcoats can look rather ungainly. If you tend towards open rather than buttoned overcoats, pick a single breasted version. Be careful with the length – an overly long camel coat, no matter how well tailored, looks trampish. Maximum length should be just below the knee. A note on minimum length, English chaps should avoid the shorter Del Boy style; unless you have a seriously impressive 1970s wardrobe to partner it with, it won’t work.

Wear it with…

Cornflower blue shirts, blue suits, blue denim – camel is a perfect companion for all things azure. White is also a happy, if less inspiring, complement. Don’t just wear it at the weekends either; Christian Bale’s Patrick Bateman (above) provides one of his more convincing arguments for wearing it on the daily trundle to the metropolitan office.


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Winston Chesterfield is an amateur composer, fashion blogger, trained lawyer and style aficionado. He lives in Westminster, London and blogs at www.levraiwinston.com.

Comments

  1. Adam L says:

    Winston, I love your column anyway, but today you get an extra gold star for incorporating Patrick Bateman into style advice. Speaking of which, how does one get rid of blood (or chocolate) stains on high-quality garments?

  2. Hilton says:

    Excellent article, Mr. Chesterfield. I am looking forward to acquiring one this winter. Do you have any idea where I may obtain a camel coat in the Washington, D.C. area? The selection was rather limited last year I’m afraid. Thank you.

  3. Hilton,

    One of the finest ones I have seen is from Ralph Lauren. All wool and a lovely warm, camel colour. Though at $1500, it certainly isn’t cheap:

    http://www.ralphlauren.com/product/index.jsp?productId=4367978&cp=1760781.3351645&ab=ln_men_cs1_jackets&parentPage=family

    There is a Ralph Lauren store on Wisconsin Avenue, Northwest in D.C.

    Best regards,

    W

  4. Jacques says:

    Great article, as usual Winston. My question is more clarification on the fit. Because it seems the Camel is usually worn over another blazer or suit jacket, should I be looking at a size up from my usual jacket size or stick with the tight fit jacket size?

  5. Jacques,

    Good point. Fit always depends on how the wearer plans to wear the garment. If you are looking to wear the coat over a suit or blazer, it’s a good idea to try the size above.

    If however the jacket will mostly be worn over a roll-neck or another jumper, the tighter fit would probably be better.

    If the choice is the former, I would recommend visiting a tailor to see if there is any adjustment that can be comfortably made to a larger coat to retain some semblance of sculpted shape. I myself had a 38″ overcoat adjusted so that it could easily be worn over a suit but also was sufficiently ‘shaped’ and fitted so that wearing it without a jacket underneath did not make it look like I had bought the wrong size.

    Hope this helps.

    Best,

    W