What overcoat should I buy?
October 4, 2012 8:27 AM   Subscribe

What are good recommendations for semi-formal to formal winter coats?

I work in a law firm. I wear a shirt and tie and suit pants every day except fridays where I dress business casual, but conservatively. Sometimes I need to wear a suit jacket if I am going to court.

I have never bought a real coat and I am looking for options. I know that coats can run the gammut in terms of price, but I am looking to realistically spend between $200-$500.

I feel like full-length overcoats would be cumbersome, but car coats and short coats seem to not work well with a suit. I also want a nice, warm coat, but not one that is so flashy as to draw attention to myself. I think double-breasted coats are odd, but you could talk me out of it.

posted by arveale to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (5 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
I think a Chesterfield is the way to go. Here's one at Macy's in your price range.

Mmmm. Handsome.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 8:32 AM on October 4, 2012

To a degree, I'm not really sure what your question is. Men's overcoats are pretty standard and differ only in the details. If you're very particular about the details, then they matter. If not, then there are dozens of department stores with long racks of black men's overcoats.

My suggestion would be to go down to NYC and go to Century 21. You want a black wool overcoat (something like this. This one is nice and will be cheaper at Century 21 if they have it) that is at least 3/4 length, if not full length. Flap pockets are more formal than slant pockets, but for work purposes, either is fine. Personally, I think getting a cashmere or cashmere/wool blend overcoat is worth the money, but a regular wool overcoat will work without any problems and be less expensive, too.
posted by deanc at 9:05 AM on October 4, 2012 [1 favorite]

You are correct to skip the shorter overcoats. You should get at least a three quarter length coat. Research shows that is the minimum length to be viewed as serious/formal. (Don't want to take my word for it? Then read up on it yourself.)

Make sure you take a suit jacket with you when trying on coats so the coat will fit over it.

Leather can be warm, impressive and not too flashy. I had a leather winter coat at one time. It was wonderful.
posted by Michele in California at 9:56 AM on October 4, 2012

Don't get a leather overcoat if you work in a law firm. It's not professional enough for a law firm.

You really need to get a traditional wool overcoat. 3/4 length is pretty standard for professional men, and they're not cumbersome (and you can always pick a lighter-weight wool so it's not annoying you around the legs). Most have a "slit" in the back for ease of walking. You will probably appreciate the warmth of having the longer length. Get black, dark grey, or navy blue. I don't think double or single breasted matters a lot, really. Pair it with a cashmere scarf that compliments your complexion; it looks very sharp and you can go with even very bright colors in the scarf, since it's just a pop of color (and everyone loves bright, cheery colors in the winter). Biden in a maroon-ish red, John Kerry and Ted Kennedy in two different beautiful blues (picture 24), Clinton and W in yellow and black, respectively; any pictures you can find of Obama's inauguration are actually a great collection of men's winter professional outerwear fashion, because it was so freaking cold. You can see a lot of different styles of coat and see what you might like.

You can probably get away with a sharp-looking black wool pea coat on casual days (and really, days you're not wearing a suit jacket and not meeting clients, unless you spend a lot of time in outerwear with other lawyers).

Really, any department store that has men's suits will have a selection, so you can try a few on and see what you like. You can find them tons of places online, but you may want to buy your first in person until you know what you like. Costco also usually has some men's overcoats (at great Costco prices) in the fall, if that's an option.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 11:14 AM on October 4, 2012 [2 favorites]

If you're just not comfortable with a standard-issue men's double breasted thing (and the fact you are not wearing your suit jackets to work* would indicate that), you could go with a Crombie coat.

*You know your jackets and pants will fade and wear at different rates, yes? If you're going to keep doing this, consider buying two pairs of pants for each suit jacket. Alternate them.
posted by DarlingBri at 12:45 PM on October 4, 2012

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