Sunday, December 11, 2011
It is nearly winter in the northern hemisphere and cold enough for an overcoat the other day. Just. And I pulled out my heavyweight flannel that had been hanging in a closet since it was delivered a year ago, in time for a trip to Italy that never saw temperatures worthy of it. The piece is the one thing I have to wear when temperatures are below freezing, as my other coats are lighter cloth in keeping with the mild temperatures where I live.
One can always have more I suppose, but I think that four over/topcoats is about the right number. A tweed for the country. A topcoat for shoulder season. A chesterfield or something for evening. And an overcoat for serious cold.
The differences between overcoats and topcoats have been discussed in this space in the past. Generally, a topcoat is lighter cloth of perhaps 18 ounces (540 grams) or even lighter - my tweed is just 15 ounces (450 grams). And an overcoat is 22 ounces (660 grams) or even heavier. That extra adds a pound or two to the weight, but it makes a considerable difference in terms of the coat's ability to keep the wearer warm.
One feature of a good coat that is often neglected but should not be is a large buttoning pocket in the front of the interior lining that will suffice for a newspaper or, more usefully, a scarf when the coat is removed in a restaurant or somewhere similar. That solves the problem of what to do with the things when a man is out and about, since stuffing one into a coat sleeve is inevitably associated with a high rate of loss. Scarves are too dear to be treated casually, and a suitable pocket is something that an alterations tailor can add at a relatively nominal cost.
With a good coat, scarf, gloves and overshoes, winter is reduced to an inconvenience. Coinsiderable, to be sure, but merely an inconvenience nonetheless.