February 24, 2012

Solving the mysteries of the new Sherlock Holmes coat - Millfords and Invernesses



With the second season of the hit BBC show Sherlock airing on BBC Canada this February (it debuts on PBS this May), it was elementary to expect a fervour for Holmesian fashion.

The iconic fashion item for Sherlock redux is not a deerstalker cap. Instead, it's his chic outerwear.

Yesterday, Katherine Lazaruk, a Vancouver image consultant, mentioned in passing that the Sherlock manteau (above), called the Millford by motorcycle coat makers Belstaff) had sold out. Belstaff had restocked but recently announced they would no longer produce it.

The coat is a double-breasted tweed coat with dramatic sharp-angled lapels and collars. Always popped-up, they frame the detective's face (Benedict Cumberbatch) and impart the right 21st Century edge to the updated Victorian crime-solver.

The long drape does well on Cumberbatch's slender body. It makes him look taller than he actually is. In the trailer for Season 2, his ostensible height becomes a punchline. 

If you have been contemplating finding a coat like the consulting detective's, possibly one cheaper than the Belstaff version, there are specific details to keep an eye out for.

Sherlock's coat is based on the RAF Officer's Greatcoat (below) which is double-breasted and features a back tab. The tab gathers pleats. This creates a bell shaped skirt with fullness at the behind. Make sure this works for your height and body type.

The original RAF coat has epaullettes or shoulder tabs. Sherlock's does not. In his new coat, there is an attempt to straddle the Victorian allure of the original sleuth's era and the sleek modernity of Sherlock's London now.

Note Sherlock's buttons don't rise as high as the RAF one and his pockets are patch pockets without flaps (I stand corrected, it does have flaps, but I do stand by the Millford being more modern than the RAF Officer Greatcoat). Again, these omissions enhances the sleek look of the Belstaff design.

A quick aside: the original Sherlock is remembered for wearing a deerstalker cap and an Inverness cape (right). But this is only one look of many that the original Strand illustrator, Sidney Paget, depicted Holmes in. It is later on, in films, that this becomes his typical outwear costume.
Remember in your search, that the little details should work for you. I've seen lots of blogs and magazines recommending coats to those who love Sherlock's but many have zippers, belts, notches and flaps that the Millford lacks.
So pay attention in your search. The game is afoot.