Last week I featured a Fashionisto wearing an updated version of the classic bomber-style leather jacket. Though it was originally created for aviators in the military, it quickly transcended the mass market and became a timeless wardrobe staple despite the ever-changing style of forth-coming generations. This week I bring you another classic winter garment that was also created by the military.
The Gentleman’s Gazette offers a phenomenal account of the history and evolution of the duffle coat. In summary of the information that they provide, during WWII the British Admiralty were in search of a coat that would protect their sailors from the harsh winds and extreme conditions at sea while allowing them to move swiftly and freely on deck. They chose to commission what is know known as the duffle coat—an adaptation of the hooded Polish frock coat.
At first, the duffle coat had a short length that was similar to that of the peacoat, and had an extremely boxy shape that seemed to engulf some sailors. After receiving feedback from the sailors that the style failed to keep them warm, the British Admiralty made the necessary adjustments of elongating the coat, and tailoring it just enough to skim the body without restricting any necessary movement. The British Admiralty chose to construct the duffle coat out of a heavy-weight (canvas) material that was manufactured in Duffel, Belgium—hence the coat’s name. As the Royal British navy traveled to various countries while on duty, their uniform offered a cross-cultural influence and source of inspiration to international designers who transitioned the duffle coat from the sea to the street.
Although the current silhouette of the duffle coat has remained true to the traditional hooded and skimming style with an elongated length, the duffle coat is now primarily made of wool or a wollen-blend. The combination of a thick, heavy-weight material with the longer length is sure to keep you warm during the cold and windy days of winter. Best of all, the duffle coat now comes in a variety of styles as creative design spins on the classic offer the duffle coat a seasonal update. Whether you pick one in a vibrant color, a muted color, a print or one that is short or long, there is a duffle coat out there to fit your look.
While the toggle coat has a high collar that helps to keep the chill at bay, pairing it with a ribbed turtleneck will add another warm layer and an extra dose of classic style. Due to the simple and clean lines of the coat you can also add either a printed scarf or a cap, be it in a newsboy or baseball style. As our Fashionisto shows, a beanie is also suitable!
Major style points go to this Fashionisto who succeeded in urbanizing the traditional and preppy duffle coat by pairing it with a beanie, fingerless gloves, patched light-weight denim and tan Timberlands. Each of these pieces individually add a bit of an edge to any outfit, and together seem to enliven the subtle classic. As this Fashionisto shows, the duffle coat transforms a basic and simple outfit into a sophisticated ensemble (and an edgy one depending on your choice of accessories).
Hint: The duffle coat exudes casual refinement, so you can pair it with anything from jeans for class to khakis for your date (your choice of shoes will set the tone of your outfit).