I imagine many of you have been hunkered down in your dorms throughout the neverending slew of midterms, surviving solely off of acerbic Ratty coffee and 1 a.m. Jo’s runs. But, if you’ve had the time to peek your head out of your window and onto your respective quadrangle, I’m sure you’ve noticed that it’s really damn cold all of a sudden. Personally, I’m not complaining. It’s my seasonal chance to show off my cold weather layers, which is exactly what we’re talking about today. It’s 2023—the Roaring Twenties—and a black North Face puffer layered over a gray Champion hoodie isn’t cutting it anymore. What you need is a great big overcoat, and I’ll be going over a few of my favorite options that I hope to see around town.
Before we start, I’d like to get some details out of the way: Don’t go for a tiny lapel overcoat that ends before the knees; those days are over. Instead, go for at least knee length or calf length if you’re cool like me. Similarly, for fit I recommend a looser fitting, more comfortable coat. Remember that overcoats are meant to be worn with layers underneath so don’t go buying one that’ll make you look like a particularly appetizing hot dog. Without further ado, your options:
Camel hair polo coat:
It seems like I mention this coat in every other article, but it’s such a classic item that I can’t help it. Made from camel hair and featuring long lapels, patch pockets, a back belt, and double breasted closure, the polo coat is a timeless piece of American style. It can essentially be worn with any outfit, both formal and casual. I would recommend this coat with anything you have in your closet, from suits to sweaters, from jeans to literal pajamas for an early morning Ratty run. If you’ve seen me around campus, chances are I’m the guy with the giant tan coat. A thing to keep in mind while looking for one of these is that they’re pretty rare and rather expensive (unless you’re willing to spend $2500 on a brand new Ralph Lauren one). All the classic, preppy menswear guys have come around to them, so the demand is high for a pretty small supply pool. Your best bet is to keep an eye out for cheap ones from estate sales on eBay or get lucky at a vintage market or Goodwill.
Another favorite of mine, and particularly good for the cozy hot chocolate vibes we all covet, is the belted overcoat. These come in many shapes and sizes, but the best are the big, 80’s style double-breasted coats with belts, or wrap coats that just remove buttons from the equation entirely and function as a giant wool robe. These coats are the best because they make you feel like you never actually got out of bed that day, and really encourage those intrusive thoughts about bringing your comforter to class. These coats trend more on the casual side so I’d primarily wear them with other cozy layers like thick tweeds, shetland sweaters, weathered jeans or chinos, and really beat up loafers or sneakers. Look out for raglan sleeves—attached in one piece to the coat with no padding—for maximum comfort and a slouchy silhouette.
Popularized during WWII, a duffle is a large and roomy—almost sack-like—coat, fastened by wood and rope toggles across the front instead of buttons. If the belted overcoat makes you feel like you’ve never left your bed, the duffle coat is like wearing a living mattress store. A good one is generally made from very heavy wool, roomy enough to take however many layers you might need for the cold, and has a large hood. Personally, I like it because it makes me feel like Paddington, and who doesn’t want that? The most common colors are tan and navy blue but if you look, you can find vintage ones from Polo Ralph Lauren in fun rustic patterns, occasionally even made of leather and shearling. The duffle coat is a very utilitarian garment; I find it goes best with items like sweaters and jeans rather than blazers and suits, unless they are made of a very casual or sporty fabric. It’s best to wear the duffle for early morning classes when the idea of waking up early to look your best is too much for a Tuesday at 9 a.m.. The only downside is that most duffles are knee length or shorter so your legs might be a little cold if you’re not packing warm socks.
There are so many more coats I could recommend—trench coats, alpaca hair, the classic tweed balmacaan, navy guards coat—but with any of the three discussed above, you should be warm and stylish enough to make it through the cold and windy Providence winter. Don’t forget to tag me when you find your perfect coat.