Coats make the man - so cover up

PUBLISHED : Monday, 16 November, 2009, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 16 November, 2009, 12:00am

Men have a tendency to neglect details. They buy a nice suit then ruin it by wearing a ridiculous tie or kitschy cufflinks or shoes that look like paddles. That same lack of attention applies to winter coats. Men often reach for the warmest, most loose fitting and readily available coat with careless disregard for style. Yet you can be warm without looking like a fashion train wreck.

I am a fan of the topcoat, which is a longer version of a blazer or a suit jacket. This style is timeless and designers have cut it in so many different ways it can look traditional or modern, tailored and slim or with a little more give across the torso and armpits. I like the styles made from double-faced cashmere, which Tom Ford, Ermenegildo Zegna and Canali do so well. At Lane Crawford, there is a handsome black cashmere overcoat from Raf Simons, which calls to mind Ralph Fiennes' character in The End of the Affair; the coat will remain stylish for years to come. I found a cheaper alternative, in wool, at Theory.

Dunhill has more traditional versions of the topcoat, such as the Bloomsbury, a single-breasted wool navy coat with a herringbone pattern; the collar is made of velvet for a touch of luxury. You can also go super traditional at Dunhill with the six-button double-breasted Brompton. If you want to channel the mysterious look of Sherlock Holmes, this should get you right into the thick of the action.

For true luxury, however, the dark shearling coat from Bottega Veneta is worth every cent: it's warm, stylish and can be worn over a suit or a turtleneck sweater. Just avoid bling, diamond-studded watches, gold rings and chains with medallions: you want to look classy and elegant, and not like a pimp or an extra from a Kanye West video.

Alexander McQueen's topcoat has heft: it's made from tan suede and lined with shearling. If you want a coat that says you're a macho man who likes it rough, this is for you.

An article on coats is not complete without trench coats and a section on trench coats is incomplete without a mention of the mother lode of trench coats: Burberry. A classic tan trench from Burberry Prorsum is the wisest choice but designer Christopher Bailey makes the decision difficult by offering irresistible versions every season. This autumn, he has a leather version with a shearling lining and one in feather grey wool with exaggerated front panel pockets. He did one in black and charcoal grey plaid. Ah, the choices. It's like going to Baskin-Robbins and not being able to make up your mind what ice cream to get because everything looks so yummy.

Dolce & Gabbana has a light grey wool trench coat with black wool details on the epaulets, the piping of the pockets, the collar, and on the sleeves. It has a little more volume than the super slim Burberry, making it perfect for layering should temperatures dip really low. Of all the trench coats on the market, though, what has really piqued my interest is the one from Calvin Klein's collection. It's made from a hi-tech glossy fabric blend which looks like leather that's been drenched in rain. I think this is really a statement piece. You don't have to wear much else underneath.

Car coats are also options, especially if you find the topcoat and the trench a little too dressed up for a run to the grocery or the wine store. The Swank has a variety of cropped quilted jackets from ADD. It also has hip-length coats with fur trim from Ermano Scervino and Kiton which will look good with jeans and runners, as well as dress pants and brogues. Givenchy has a dark brown hip-length leather coat with a suede collar that's just right for running errands.

Stay away from military-style coats for now; this season is for a more gentlemanly look. Shopping list Bottega Veneta, The Landmark, Central, tel: 2973 0882 Dunhill, Pacific Place, Admiralty, tel: 2537 1009 Dolce & Gabbana, Alexandra House, Central, tel: 2877 5558 Lane Crawford, IFC Mall, Central, tel: 2118 3388 The Swank, Alexandra House, Central, tel: 2868 2017