November 3, 2009

Stop the Misnomerosity! Gents, learn your overcoat (er, raincoat) basics


The nip is in the air and male readers may be wondering how to keep off the chill (ok, it's not so bad in Vancouver).

Easy, right? Not so. There are many styles of overcoats and raincoats. Frequently, retailers (both online and bricks and mortar), journalists and bloggers use the wrong terms.

It's a big deal because different style coats suit different body types. If people used the correct nomenclature, it would make life googling and net shopping far better.

For those who agree, here is a guide:

Mackintosh (left) is a raincoat. It is also a famous English brand. Like John Lennon wrote, "The man in the Mack..."

The silhouette is tubular and currently cut tight and short. It is a closed throated coat. The button (except for the top one) are hidden. The lines are simple with minimal detailing. If they have flap or patch pockets, they are an abomination. Slash side pockets, please. It suits most body types. However, short, thick torso men should avoid mid-thigh or higher hems. It becomes too boxy especially when used as an overcoat.


For a local source, look for Black Brown at The Bay (below, left). It is $250. You can find it exclusively Downtown.



The Mack is often referred to as a trench coat (Brooks Brothers what are you doing?) but it's either wrong or an indifferent Americanism. A real trench coat has its origin in the trenches of the First World War. Originally made by Burberry, the coat was made for infantry.

Locally, a modern winter-weight version in black can be found at The Bay by Full Circle for $575 (above, right).

The details: a heavy and long turn down collar to protect the neck; a heavy belt, originally designed to take the weight of a string of grenades; and, on this version, double-breasted to protect the chest.

If you're thick and tall, the double breast can break down the volume of your chest. The belting will give you some waist and a more heroic silhouette.

If you're shorter, you should avoid belting at the front. Instead tie it at the back. Overall, the coat has to be tight. A suit jacket underneath is a tall order for a shorter man (avoid).

Wear it the way you would wear a jean jacket - with a sweater or, for collegial prepness, a sweat shirt on the weekend. Also make sure the hem isn't too short - boxiness is always a threat. Plus never leave the belt dangling or in your side pockets. Always go for tying at the back! Trust me, this is actually traditional.

Finally, a word about the virtues of the pea coat , right.

This Polo Ralph Lauren Academy Pea Coat (The Bay, $525) is cut very narrow and short and works best with jeans and a nice sweater-tie combo. Note the double-breasted six on eight buttons. If you work in a business casual environment it has enough structure to tidy up ones look but is informal enough to keep your co-workers from asking you too many questions about your recent makeover.

The rotund should avoid it.

However, if you are a bit bottom heavy, look into a balmacaan. That's my coat of choice. It looks like a Mack except it has raglan sleeves. This means it doesn't have a set-in sleeve. Instead, they run into the collar the way sweatshirts and warm up jackets are made. The armholes are wider but the positive side is it is an A-line. This can elongate a figure and avoids the sausage effect of trench coats and Macks.

The hem should be somewhere between the knee and mid-thigh if you are heavier but NOT below the knee. Too much fabric will make you look worse.

1 comment:

  1. Boo hoo, I was hoping to see pics of the stunning production guy model.

    ReplyDelete