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Five Coats Every Man Should Own

With a coat for every occasion, follow our guide to surviving low temperatures in high style

The Law of Maximum Impact decrees that the more visible the item, the more important it is. By that rationale, you should invest far more time, effort and money in a coat (which lots of people will notice) than in, say, your underwear (which, unless you are a particularly prolific and/or exhibitionistic Tinder dater, far fewer people should see).

Don’t underestimate the power of your coat. It provides the first opportunity for analysis from a distance. It is the garment you hand your host when you arrive at a business meeting or a party. And, watches aside, it is probably the most expensive single item in your wardrobe. So if you get it wrong, you get it really wrong.

Some men are like corner-cutting home decorators: they think they can get away with a single coat. Not true. Our style editors have picked out five different types and five corresponding ways to wear them.

The Weekend Coat

Here at MR PORTER, we try not to make too many glib statements that begin “every man should own”. But to be honest, every man really should own a camel coat. And this one, from Ami, is a particularly fine example and the smartest of investments for a number of reasons. Firstly, the classic camel is a hardy style perennial, immune to the vagaries of fashion, which means you’ll get years and years of wear out of it. Secondly, it’s a universally flattering style of coat that looks good on everyone. And thirdly, it’s very versatile: a camel coat looks sharp over grey or navy tailoring, and blue denim and camel is always an ever-reliable combination. Here we have styled the coat dressed down for a weekend look, worn with tapered sweatpants and premium leather sneakers, a cashmere beanie and a ribbed knit. The camel serves to both break up and draw out the different shades of grey – and note the tactile combination of textures from cashmere to wool to jersey.

The Formal Coat

“May I take your coat, sir?” If you’re likely to be asked this question, make sure the coat you’re handing over is one that will impress, not embarrass. A good suit will be let down by a bad coat; a good coat will elevate an otherwise humdrum outfit. A classic top coat like this will serve you well for pretty much all formal occasions: grey is the only colour that will combine harmoniously with navy, brown, black as well as other greys. This particular one from Italian brand Boglioli is made from a warm and insulating virgin wool blend. It is designed to be roomier in the shoulder and arms in order to accommodate structured tailoring or chunky knitwear. With tailoring, make sure the coat hangs longer than the suit jacket.

The Commuter Coat

Function and fashion are fused together in this three-in-one coat from Prada, perfect for unpredictable and changeable weather. The charcoal grey canvas outer layer has an insulated lining which is detachable so you can wear each separately or both together, as conditions dictate – three different permutations. This convertible coat’s utility is matched by its versatility: the minimalist design means it can easily be dressed up or down. The liner is warm without adding too much unflattering padding, especially in the arms, and it hangs nicely. Layering a quilted bomber jacket underneath a classic rain coat is very much in keeping with the sportswear meets formalwear trend. In this polished look, note how the crisp white shirt is buttoned all the way up sans tie, and that it is worn untucked in order to break up the tonal black on black. The smart trousers are cuffed and slightly cropped, and the black leather of the shoes is echoed in that of the smart backpack.

The Party Coat

This, it hardly needs pointing out, is a high-impact statement coat. Wear it once and people will notice. Wear it twice and people will remember. Wear it too often and it will define you as “the guy in that check coat”. Wear it too seldom, however, and it’ll be that item that hangs heavy with buyer’s remorse in your wardrobe: occasionally tried on, but then returned to the hanger with a “no, not today” shake of the head, which, on the cost-per-wear ratio, would represent a poor return on a considerable investment. But while a coat like this won’t be your everyday go-to, it’s certainly worth having a party piece in your sartorial arsenal to be deployed for the right occasion – one for day, one for play, as they say. The received wisdom is the louder in colour and busier in pattern a garment, the less often you will be able to wear it. There is some truth to that: this isn’t something that will go with every outfit in the same way that the comparatively plain grey overcoats above will. But, if you choose one like this that has a number of different colours, it will offer up more styling options. In this example, note how the burgundy in the check is picked up in the shirt print; and how the fleck of grey is echoed in the grey trousers and boots.

The Travel Coat

To look at this coat and to feel its fabric, you might reasonably assume at first that it’s a little lightweight to be considered an option for colder climates. But the designers at Canadian performance-wear brand Arc’teryx Veilance do not mess about. This coat boasts serious tech spec to make it water- and wind-resistant. But Arc’teryx Veilance makes no compromise on aesthetics – which is why several senior members of MR PORTER staff swear by it. It features bonded internal seams and hidden snap fastenings for a clean, minimalist look. It’s also the ideal coat for people who travel (as the aforementioned do, a lot). It is superlight and doesn’t crease so can be stashed in an overnight backpack or an overhead locker without looking any worse for wear. Here it is layered over the top of a slim-line quilted gilet/vest for extra warmth without extra bulk.