Forget your statement sweaters. Never mind your signature accessories. Who gives a damn about your shirts, your knitwear, your trousers? Because it’s winter, and people are only noticing one thing — your overcoat.
That’s right. When the cold winds blow in and temperatures take a dive, suddenly your wardrobe is reduced to one single, solitary piece. However stylish your outfit may be below your overcoat, most passers-by will never appreciate it. Instead, they’ll just judge you on your outerwear alone. So you’d better get it right. Thankfully, from Cary Grant to Richard Gere, there are several style icons ready to guide you.
James Dean buttoned up the double-breasted look
The double-breasted overcoat is an iconic look. Just ask Daniel Craig, whose take on 007 has buttoned up many during his tenure as the superspy. But perhaps the most legendary proponent of this extra-snug style is James Dean — who was memorably photographed wearing one during a rainy walk through Times Square in 1955.
To emulate Dean’s hunched over, bundled-up look, New & Lingwood’s large collared great coat is an ideal option. With military heritage and a slight texture, it has the same utilitarian charm as Rubinacci’s slightly softer take on the look. Alternatively, for a more idiosyncratic spin on double-breasted, Oliver Spencer’s corduroy and shearling option is sure to turn heads.
Cary Grant was in the business of sleek, smart overcoats
There was something ineffably elegant about Cary Grant. With his square frame and classically handsome looks, nothing worked better for the actor than a simple, sleek, single-breasted overcoat in a dark, conservative colour. Pass him in the street and, if you didn’t know any better (or somehow missed North by Northwest), you might just have thought him a very, very well-dressed businessman.
Thom Sweeney’s Cashmere Overcoat exudes similar sophistication. Plucked from the bespoke world of Savile Row, it’s cut from winter-ready, double-faced cashmere. Ralph Lauren, too, has a refined take on the single-breasted style; in deep navy with hidden buttons. Or, for a suit-inspired option of which Grant would surely approve, Burberry’s notch-lapelled, clean-lined, wool-cashmere coat.
Paul Newman knew his way around a pattern
Paul Newman always had a style trick or two up his sleeve. And, when his sleeves were as generous as those on this signature herringbone overcoat, the tricks just kept coming. For instance, who knew a heavy-fabric overcoat with a distinctive design and turn-back cuffs could so effectively walk the line between ‘rugged’ and ‘refined’?
Perhaps it was the subtle pattern — something discerning dressers could no doubt reach for with dunhill’s quality Prince of Wales Checked Coat. Or maybe it’s that rakish mid-length, as demonstrated admirably by Barena’s herringbone option. Of course, the colour didn’t hurt; a versatile grey that Sunspel’s Ian Fleming collection relies on, most notably with this wool-tweed offering.
Richard Gere had the belted look all tied up
And then came Richard Gere. He may have swanned and sashayed onto the overcoat scene a decade or two after our other icons, but the American actor’s eye for a belted overcoat was second-to-none. Pictured above in American Gigolo, Gere’s camel coat has entered the pantheon of pop culture — and even earned the movie a place on our list of the best-dressed films of all time.
If you’re looking to jump on the belted bandwagon, New & Lingwood’s wrap coat is a true statement piece; boasting raglan sleeves, welted slant pockets and an elegant silhouette. De Bonne Facture’s offering is closer to Gere’s original — and is crafted from responsibly sourced Pyrenean wool. Or, for a more tightly tailored take on the belted style, Sandro has a clean-cut option in refined dark green.
Looking for more seasonal must-haves? These are the accessories your winter wardrobe needs…
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