Fine men's bespoke and made to measure tailoring

Buying an overcoat – my top tips!

Dec 09 2013

Even though I have been a bespoke tailor for many years, I am still learning about the uniqueness of made to measure tailoring, which proves you are never too old to discover something new!

My latest revelation came to me not so long ago as the days turned colder and the time had come to take my trusted M&S overcoat out of the wardrobe to be worn on a brisk Yorkshire day.

I hadn’t put it on for 12 months and as I wore it, the comments of my customers came rushing back to me – they are always telling me that they can really feel the difference when they wear the Master Tailor clothing I have made for them compared to off the peg clothing.

I never really appreciated their comments until that day when I finally understood what they meant.

And here’s why. As I was born into a clothing manufacturing and men’s tailoring family, all my clothes were made to measure tailoring from being a small child.

In fact my Leeds Grammar School blazer was made to measure especially for me along with my short trousers. Therefore I always took for granted that clothes fitted me and therefore, this was nothing special.

The only item of tailored clothing that was ever off the peg was overcoats – primarily because we didn’t manufacture them!

So this is how I came to own a wool/cashmere overcoat from M&S – it’s good quality and beautifully made. In addition, I also really enjoyed wearing it!

However, last year I decided to treat myself and had a beautiful wool/cashmere overcoat made in a Bateman Ogden cloth with a really heavy satin lining. This lining gives the coat a really luxurious feel.

But when it turned cold the other day, for some reason I decided to put on my M&S coat and boy, did I notice the difference. It felt so uncomfortable and I could really tell the difference between that and the superior fit of my made to measure coat.

Now I completely understand and appreciate how my customers feel when comparing their old suits to the new one we have just made for them.

So I guess the moral of this story is that there are better things in life but we will never know how much better until we try them.

This little tale leads me quite nicely into what you need to look for when buying an overcoat and preferably a made to measure one at that.

So as a bespoke tailor, here are my top tips for buying the right overcoat for you.

 1.      What is an overcoat?

 An overcoat is heavy top coat with long sleeves which is worn over clothing when it is cold – paired with a suit it can really finish off your outfit in a luxurious way.

But it doesn’t just have to be confined to formal wear. When worn with smart casual jeans, it can add a distinctive flare and take your look to the next level.

And whilst I am going to advocate one of my made to measure overcoats, if that is beyond your reach then do shop around for a good quality, fine looking alternative.

However, before you get to that stage, you need to think about whether you want a single or double-breasted overcoat and what type of fabric you would prefer.  But probably the first thing you need to consider is what length you would like your coat to be.

2.      What length should I choose?

This is the first thing you need to decide and you have two choices – a full-length coat or a three-quarter length coat, depending on when you are most likely to wear it.


Brad Pitt courtesy of

A full length coat usually looks a lot smarter than a three-quarter length one and can be worn for both formal and more casual occasions.

They are also very flattering if you are quite tall but some fashionistas don’t recommend them for shorter men.

However, I think you should be able to wear whatever you feel comfortable in and with the right cut and fabric, there is no reason to avoid them if you are small.

Three-quarter length overcoats are usually favoured by younger men and should fit closely to your body.

3.   Which type of coat should I choose – double-breasted or single breasted?


Courtesy of

A double breasted overcoat usually has a double row of buttons with a single row of buttonholes. So when you fasten it you normally have to lay one edge of the front over the other. It will also give you more warmth because two layers of fabric are placed over your chest.

The only thing to point out about double breasted overcoats is that they tend to come in and out of fashion. But don’t let this bother you because you will always get your wear out of them and a good one should last at least 20 years – after all, they are a timeless classic.


Courtesy of

Single breasted overcoats are considered to be more practical because they can look most stylish when worn open and equally as good when fastened. They are also very slimming.

Most have a single row of three or four buttons and close with a narrow overlap which fastens down in front.

4. What else do I need to think about?

Another point you need to think about is how your coat fits and looks. Make sure it sits squarely over your shoulders and waist to maximise its appearance.

You might also want to consider where the pockets are situated, the type of lapels and whether the overcoat has a vent at the back, which can give you more flexibility when walking.

And finally, there is the fabric. I think wool/cashmere is a fabulous material for an overcoat – it is also very luxurious to look at as well as warm, something you definitely want your overcoat to be.

5.   Am I best getting one made instead of buying it on the high street?

As an expert in men’s tailoring, I would say the advantage of having your overcoat made for you is that it will be made to your personal specification so the fit will be spectacular.

Most men, like I myself did, don’t really think of having a coat made for them. But the advantages are that you know exactly what you are getting and can choose the fabric, length, where you want the pockets and the design of the lapels.

But whatever you decide, a well-designed overcoat should be considered a long-term investment which you will wear over and over again. It is timeless and will look good whether you wear it over a suit or a pair of jeans.

Have you any overcoat stories? How do you prefer to wear it – casual or smart?

Category: made to measure, Suit Cloth, Tailoring Advice, Ultimate Bespoke

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