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It’s time for overcoats 2

8 December 2010

The overcoat commission from Graham Browne – a grey herringbone DB, Bateman & Ogden 600g – was ready this week. Russell returned it initially to the coatmaker because he wasn’t happy with the finishing of the pleats, but the extra week’s wait was worth it.

The pleats in the side seams had been cut as separate pieces to the main coat, then attached to the inside afterwards. While this is easier to cut – as you don’t have to build the excess into the coat pattern – it creates a sharper edge both at the opening to the pleat and inside. My polo coat was cut as a single piece and the pleats have a tendency to roll outwards as a result, even when tacked. This was the first time Russell has attempted a coat cut in this way, and he was justifiably pleased with it.

The coat was half lined – I wanted the style of a double breast without all the warmth, as this coat is intended to be a good step cooler than the polo. You can see the taping on the seams inside, which is particularly useful at covering the join between the different sections in the pleats.

The half-lined overcoat is an idea I took from Piombo, a Milanese brand that has just started to be stocked in the UK in Trunk. In common with many Italian outfitters, their coats are usually unlined or half-lined to enable the use of heavier cloths while remaining suitable for south European temperatures.

Elsewhere on the coat, the buttonholes were all sewn by hand at my request (only some of the standard Graham Browne suits have hand-sewn buttonholes, depending on the coatmaker). Russell says he’s now prepared to offer that to any customer that wants it. Generally, he is also taking on new coatmakers that do hand felling on both buttonholes and linings along the bottom edge – even one that does the lining’s side seams by hand. Currently there is no extra cost, only the potential for a slight delay if a coat has to go from one maker to another for finishing.

As I’ve said, a new overcoat makes a man feel wonderfully complete. This feeling is enhanced in bespoke as its sculpting effect is played out on a larger scale. Russell’s overcoats seem to give me a particularly broad chest and shoulders, coupled with a narrow waist and skirt, despite being cut quite close to the jacket underneath.

Makes you feel almost heroic.