Five Ways to Wear One: The Topcoat

by   |  in Style Tips

Out of all the different types of outerwear a guy can throw on in the winter months — from the pea coat, to the toggle coat, to workwear-inspired pieces, few are as versatile as the topcoat.

In some instances, a peacoat might be too short to cover a blazer, and in others, a workwear jacket or toggle coat could be too casual.

And, coats made purely for utility, like field coats or a thick parka, aren’t as polished as certain outlets would have you believe.

The topcoat, however, covers all of these bases while looking sharp and providing excellent warmth and layering potential — which is pretty key if you live in a chillier area. It can be worn casually with relaxed attire on the weekends (as you’ll read below), and it’s sharp enough to fit in with dressier tailored silhouettes.

The Fit

The best topcoats wear a bit like a blazer — slightly snug across the shoulders with trim arms and a tailored body.

However, the topcoat should allow for more movement, as it’ll be layered over other, lower layers — everything from a blazer and tie to a V-neck sweater and casual button-down shirt. That means slightly more room in the chest, but not the baggy overcoats of days past.

While double-breasted overcoats create a strong, masculine silhouette, we’ll stick with the classic single-breasted topcoat. Options run across the board, from Frank and Oak’s and Uniqlo’s decidedly affordable pieces, to the most investment-worthy of the bunch, from either Bonobos or J. Crew.

Sizes in those options have been going quickly for a while now, so reaching for something slightly cheaper in a neutral shade like charcoal is also advisable. These pieces get the basics right though — neutral colors, a classic trim silhouette and plenty of wearability.


Once that coat is securely in your closet, care should be the next thing on your mind. A topcoat, especially one that can be worn day in and day out, will likely see lots of bad weather, from rain to snow to sleet.

Following cleaning and care instructions on the coat tag itself is, while simple, the best route to go. These shouldn’t be tossed in the wash with your other basics — that’s a recipe for disaster.

Infrequent dry cleaning (once per season) will keep your coat in the best shape possible given the heavy wear it could see.

With care and proper fit in mind, let’s move on to what exactly can be worn with such a versatile piece.

1. Everyday Basics


This outfit plays off lots of winter-appropriate colors and textures. Burgundy is shaping up to be a particularly big color this year (and is fitting most winters when the temperature dips), and snagging a sweater in this shade at a low price like the one above is ideal.

When paired with a rougher texture like chambray, the combo nails down cold-weather style even further. While a classic white or blue OCBD would also work here, the chambray shirt provides a bit more depth and variation.

The heavier texture of the shirt calls for a heavier pant — namely, a trusty pair of dark denim. And because we’re dealing with winter temperatures and potentially snow on the ground, those sleek chukka boots should provide the ability to get around in the slush while still staying stylish.

The watch from Stuhrling is clean and minimalistic — simple style that’s still dressy and more importantly, less pricey than other brown leather watches.

2. Slick and Sharp


This outfit plays a bit off of the topcoat’s dressy roots, and it could work with either a charcoal or navy overcoat. Herringbone is a classic winter fabric, and navy wool knit tie adds yet another dose of texture to this outfit.

Since the tie and shirt are solid, it’s OK to add another different patterned pocket square in a color combo that still works with the rest of the outfit.

Wool trousers complete this winter-appropriate get-up, while those new boots have some nice depth to the leather and a seasonally-appropriate, functional rubber sole.

3. On the Go


The first eye-catching thing about this outfit could very well be the crewneck sweater — it’s as close to an investment-worthy casual piece as you can get. Cheaper options are definitely available from places like Old Navy, but it might be nice to splurge on a weekend piece that could see tons of wear.

A standard pair of dark denim grounds this outfit nicely, while a braided leather belt exudes casual style.

The other two eye-catching portions of this outfit are on the accessories front. It might be standard to throw on a nice pair of leather sneakers with this outfit, while Chelsea boots are a daring (and on-trend) alternative option. The olive strap on that watch plays nicely off the darker neutrals of the sweatshirt and denim.

If you need more inspiration or direction on how to wear those Chelsea boots, some tips from Mr. Beckham could come in handy.

4. Weekend Wear


This outfit combines both patterns and slightly unusual layering — a henley is an excellent piece of standard fall and winter wear, and it also acts as a great base layer underneath a more unique quilted shirt-jacket, which seem to be everywhere on the men’s market these days.

On the less pricey front, Old Navy again comes through with a dependable substitute. A puffer vest could also work well in this situation for an extra layer of warmth.

In this case, mixing black jeans and brown leather sneakers actually works out — the outfit is casual by nature, so it’s not as if brown shoes are being worn with a black suit.

The rough and rugged dark fading on those sneakers also pairs nicely with the black denim. And since the outfit is pretty casual and the watch strap is rubber, there’s no need to match it to the shade of shoes. The olive strap watch from above could also work well.

5. Suited and Booted


Here’s the dressiest option of the bunch, the outfit that most likely resembles something 007 might wear on a visit to, maybe, the museum.

Again, whether you go with a charcoal topcoat or a navy topcoat, the slim grey flannel suit should work nicely under both.

Because it’s a winter-friendly suit, a thicker, heavier-textured tie also matches well with the flannel suit. And to contrast the darker tan tie, a navy wool pocket square is a more unique substitute than a white cotton pocket square (although that would work in a pinch, too).

In keeping with the theme of on-trend (and on-season) footwear, black Chelsea boots sharpen up this outfit nicely, although the Chelsea boots from outfit #3 could also work.

Dress up the outfit with a versatile dive watch, and have some fun with a thick, bright red pair of socks to contrast the muted tones of this get-up.

There you have it!

Do you have any recommendations for a great overcoat? Additional styling tips or other outfit suggestions? Leave your thoughts below and thanks for reading!