The Esquire Guide To Buying A Mens Winter Coat

Pea coat, parka or padded? Here's how to pick, buy and wear the most important item you'll buy this season

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Judging by the view outside the Esquire office window, we're guessing it's around the time you're thinking about making your annual coat purchase.

The questions are: what kind should you go for, and what should you wear it with?

To help make your most expensive winter wardrobe purchase a success, we've rounded up eight classic coats and given you the lowdown on each.

Despite the style's inherent link to Britpop, the Parka has been around for decades. As the fur-lined hood might suggest, it's an Arctic invention – one created by the Inuit people to stave off the cold. Originally made from caribou or sealskin, modern day parkas are available in all manner of fabrics, but in our opinion you're best off opting for something as un-synthetic as possible (seal notwithstanding).

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How to wear it this season:
Twin with a double breasted suit and a pair of brown double monk shoes and cover off two of this season's biggest trends in one fall swoop. In terms of brand, you can't go wrong with the likes of Canada Goose or Spiewak, but for something a little more refined, turn your gaze to Dior Homme.

Back in the days of the Dam Busters, flight jackets were made of leather and lined with fleece, which was spiffing, but made them a little bulky. As aeronautical technology advanced, so did the kit, and the bomber jacket we know today gradually came into existence. 

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How to wear it this season:
Bombers are cropped, cut slim and most often made from lighter, more summery materials, but more and more houses are crafting heftier incarnations for the colder months. JCrew, for example, has a particularly good shearling-collared incarnation in its permanent collection, which provides the perfect opportunity for layering. Wear it over a plaid shirt, a white T-shirt, some slim indigo jeans and finish the look with some hefty boots.

A single-breasted coat is a wonderful thing. Firstly, there are very few men that don't look good in one as the style will lengthen the body, broaden the shoulders and cover all manner of sartorial indiscretions. It's adaptable too; looking just as good worn over a suit as it does a roll neck sweater. As a point of reference, your single-breasted coat should be fitted as opposed to billowy, and worn with smarter outfits.

How to wear it this season:
In terms of colour, you can always rely on navy blue or charcoal, but this season, we insist that you branch out; burgundy, camel or even a subtle check, for example.

Traditional overcoats were big, heavy things; more akin to armour than those in stores today. Thankfully, there have been advances in fabric technology; Gabardine and Ventile, for instance, have made things a lot easier. An amply proportioned double-breasted coat suits taller men better, which is also a rule to remember when it comes to double-breasted suits.

How to wear it this season:
Left open, a double-breasted coat adds its own extra layers to your outfit (good), and buttoned up it fixes your posture and gives you an air of military authority, which can also come in handy. We recommend making an investment, because a good overcoat will last a lifetime.


By quilted jackets, we don't mean those shapeless things you tend to see worn by ruddy-faced men on The King's Road. We mean the type you see on piste, flying past in a hail of powder and hubris on the back of a Swiss local. Quilted coats are great for bridging the gap between sportswear and streetwear.

How to wear it this season:
There are some big names in the milieu, Napapijri and Moncler for example, but plenty of other brands have taken to crafting their own interpretations of the classic design, including Hugo Boss, Ben Sherman and Penfield. A quilted coat is best worn casual over a sweater and jeans, but if you want to go for a bold colour and layer up a contrasting shirt and jacket underneath, we wouldn't blame you.

In terms of function, the trench is the ultimate outer layer. Light, waterproof and good for keeping the wind out – perfect for the days when the weather doesn't really know what it's doing – these days, there's also a range of lengths and cuts to choose from. It was the founder of Burberry, Thomas, who invented Gabardine (the cloth that the same brand's Heritage range is still cut from today). Initially made for army officers, today's styles are suitable for all.

How to wear it this season:
Belted versions are good for those with some extra timber around the waist; they cinch in at the middle and will consequently make you look a bit taller. But for something a little more modern, consider something from Hancock, a brand set up by the former owner of Mackintosh, one of the most iconic names in outerwear.

The humble pea coat has been sported by countless stylish men over the years, and as you can see from the image above, the style suits even the slightest, most waif-like of frames. The origins of the woolen pea coat lie in the Navy, which is why they're so robust and chunky – the big collars and massive buttons were put in place to keep the elements at bay. That function is still very much the virtue of the pea coat today, but its aesthetic merits have come to be appreciated too, and rightly so. What's more, you can really wrap yourself up in a pea coat, and thanks to the double-breasted cut, you'll still look smart.

How to wear it this season:
Stay true to the nautical heritage and wear your pea coat over a chunky knit roll neck sweater this winter. 

The recent trend for painter's coats and workwear-as-streetwear has meant that a host of designers have taken the field coat and implemented new cloths, cuts and patterns.

How to wear it this season:
Polo Ralph Lauren, for example, has a tartan waxed-cotton version, and Filson make one in red and black check wool.

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MORE STYLE:

What Esquire Wants For Christmas
The Best Boots To Wear This Winter
How to Buy Trousers: A Man's Guide
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