If you’re looking for the ultimate winter coat to keep you warm and cozy without sacrificing style, then you need a duffle coat. It’s a military uniform piece turned men’s wardrobe staple that you’ll surely be wearing all winter long. The hood and toggles will protect you from the cold while the sleek design will complement the rest of your winter ensemble. Find out how to find and style the right duffle coat for you below.
Everything You Need To Know About Duffle Coats
Like other men’s coats that came from military origins, the duffle coat wins major points for versatility. It is one of the few coats that looks good when worn with formal or casual clothes. It has the right length and fabric to comfortably wear over a suit without looking out of place, although it looks just as good when worn with something as casual as jeans and a sweater. But first, what makes a duffle coat a duffle coat?
What Is A Duffle Coat?
The most recognizable characteristics of a duffle coat are the front toggles and the hood. A traditional duffle coat will have toggles made of buffalo horn and leather straps. But don’t worry - today there are more animal-friendly varieties. Traditional duffle coats also feature coarse, heavy boiled wool; this technique tightens the fabric, making it more water-resistant. Duffle coats also feature a square shoulder yoke and two large patch pockets. The length ranges from knee-length to mid-thigh, about the same length as a pea coat. Traditional duffle coats were camel colored, but today they come in a wide range of colors from dark navy and black to bold red and yellow.
History Of The Duffle Coat
As we mentioned, the duffle coat has military origins. It dates back to 19th century England, when the British Navy was looking for a new coat for its sailors. They commissioned the duffle coat for its practical design and durable, water-resistant fabric. The name comes from the Belgian town of Duffel, where the special type of wool was invented. The roomy fit was big enough for sailors to comfortably wear their uniforms underneath (modern duffle coats are much more fitted), while the toggled front and hood ensured warmth and protection from the harsh weather they experienced, and were also easier to open and close with gloves on. Soon the duffle coat became a uniform staple for sailors around the world, and were especially popular during World War II. After the war, surplus military clothes were released to the public where they gained mainstream popularity. Celebrities like Jean Cocteau, Jack Nicholson, and David Bowie especially helped to bring the duffle coat into the spotlight in the 60s and 70s. Since then the duffle coat has continued to be a menswear staple.
How To Find The Right Fit
The original navy duffle coats were much bulkier than modern duffle coats. The fit has been greatly streamlined but they still have a rather boxy fit. You want enough room to be able to comfortably layer knitwear or jackets underneath, but you don’t want your coat to overpower your body or make you extra bulky. It should be just fitted enough, or else you run the risk of looking like Paddington bear. The shoulder seam should end where your shoulder ends. The sleeve should hit above your knuckles, or be long enough to cover any sleeves worn underneath. Basically, you should be able to move around comfortably while still having the coat look fitted. There is no standard length so just find what is right for you. A longer duffle coat offers more coverage, but might make your legs look shorter depending on your height. A mid-thigh length duffle coat is considered a universally flattering length, as it is long enough to cover any under layers and keeps your legs looking proportionate to the rest of your body.
How To Style A Duffle Coat
You can wear a duffle coat for many different occasions, but here are our suggestions below. It’s a style that you’ll be able to wear at pretty much any time and at any place.
If you have a business casual or even business formal dress code at work, a duffle coat will surely make your winter commute more comfortable. Unsurprisingly, duffle coats pair well with suits as they were originally designed to wear with military uniforms. It will easily cover your blazer or jacket while matching your slacks. We recommend wearing boots to match the outdoorsy feel of the duffle coat, but brogues or oxford shoes will also look great. For work, we recommend sticking to neutral colors like navy, black, or camel duffle coats as they will be easier to match with your work clothes. Navy and camel duffle coats look especially great with tweed or check suits, as they add to the heritage feel of the coat.
If your dress code is a bit more relaxed and you don’t always have to wear a suit, sweaters and slacks are also a great combination to wear underneath a duffle coat. Give your neck extra protection and add an air of elegance with a turtleneck. If you’re more of a crew-neck guy, layer a shirt underneath your sweater to add more depth and interest to your outfit - you also have the option of wearing a cardigan instead of a sweater. You can spice up your overall look of a solid duffle coat and sweater by wearing checked trousers.
Duffle coats look very natural with more casual outfits, while dressing them up at the same time. It’s the best of both worlds, making it a perfect outerwear option for your relaxing days off. Whether you’re out and about in the city or getting in touch with nature, a duffle coat will keep you protected from the elements. A duffle coat, sweater, jeans/chinos, and sneakers is an easy and comfortable outfit that works for all sorts of occasions: pub/bar hangouts, casual dates, sports games, lunches, and everything in between. Use this formula as a basis for many outfits, and swap out pieces accordingly. You can wear different kinds of sweaters - turtlenecks, cardigans, crew/v necks, even a smart sweatshirt if it feels right. Maybe add a shirt underneath. Swap your sneakers for chelsea or chukka boots to dress the look up a bit more and keep your feet warm if it’s very cold. To add a more formal feel, wear dress pants - just make sure they are slightly cropped and aren’t too obviously pressed (check pants work very well for this). It will give your outfit a cool high/low street style feel, especially if you are wearing sneakers.
- Some styles will have a removable hood or no hood at all, but the duffle coat is one of the only fashion coats with hoods, so take advantage of it! It’s part of the original design and you’ll be very thankful for the hood if it starts to rain or the wind gets too strong. If it’s extra cold and you need more protection, you can also wear a beanie.
- Stick to slim or skinny fit bottoms when wearing a duffle coat. The boxy fit can be tricky to pull off sometimes. Loose or baggy bottoms won’t make the most flattering overall shape.
- If you choose a brightly colored duffle coat, like red, keep the rest of your outfit neutral. The duffle coat should be the talking point.
Have the coziest and most stylish winter ever this year with a duffle coat. Which color will you be wearing?