Depending on whether it’s cold, rainy, windy, or snowy (maybe all four?) you’ll need a coat. But which coat, exactly? The one you choose matters, so let’s go over the different types of coats, what they’re made of, and when you might want to wear them.
Coats and jackets aren’t just a way to stay warm over the winter months, they’re also an indispensable wardrobe staple that can perfectly complement your sense of style. And the first step in choosing the best coat for your wardrobe (or your day) is familiarizing yourself with all the different options you have.
In this article, we’re covering the 19 most common types of coats… from blazers and sport coats, to bomber jackets and formalwear. Afterwards, you’ll have a complete perspective on all the coats that could make it into your closet.
Which ones do you currently have in your wardrobe? And which do you need to add sooner or later?
Let’s get into it.
KEEP THIS IN MIND
Some of these coat names have been used interchangeably in fashion marketing, like overcoat and topcoat, for example.
And several coats look very similar, but traditionally, they all have served different purposes (even if nowadays, names are mixed up and the coats you see in stores seem to have no differences).
Familiarize yourself with the handful that apply to you, and don’t worry about the rest. Just bookmark this article in case you need to refer back to it one day!
The topcoat is a bit lighter weight (compared to a traditional overcoat) and hits at or slightly above the knee. The two terms are ubiquitous now and seem to be used interchangeably, but a traditional overcoat is heavier, made from a thicker cloth, and tends to go below the knee, even halfway down the calf.
You could say that all topcoats are a type of overcoat, but not all overcoats are topcoats.
"Made from a luxurious wool-cashmere blend, our single-breasted topcoat is a classic for any gentleman. Style features include a 3-roll-2 button closure, notch lapels, and hand-warmer pockets for practicality." –S&M
Regardless, Spier & Mackay’s Camel Wool and Cashmere topcoat is a favorite here at Effortless Gent, and a fantastic example of a somewhat classic overcoat style, just not as long.
The balmacaan is shorter and lighter than an overcoat. They can be dressed up or down to fit your occasion; some come with zip-out liners that make them suitable for all-season wear.
A comfortable, elegant knee-length coat available in several colors that works in business or casual dress situations.
Uniqlo’s minimalist style is on full display in their relaxed Balmacaan Coat, a lightweight yet warm option that hits right at the knee.
3. Duffle Coat
Duffle coats are named after the material they are made of — a plush, thick, and warm woolen cloth — as well as a military commander who especially enjoyed the style. They’re instantly recognizable by their wooden toggles, rope fastenings, as well as their hoods.
Bearing the brand's hallmark wooden toggles and jute rope fastenings.This duffle is made from a fine Italian wool blend and finished with a cotton herringbone webbing interior.
Gloverall’s Original Monty Duffle Coat is an absolute gem in this style, and is made with high-quality Italian wool, polished wooden toggles, and jute rope fastenings.
4. Trench Coat
Originally developed for Army officers during World War I, the trench coat gets its name from its use in trench warfare. They’re characterized by heavy-duty waterproof construction, wide lapels, double breasted fastening with up to 10 buttons, and a waist belt.
Water resistant, classic relaxed cut, fully lined. You'll wear this for years.
If you’ve been looking for a rainproof jacket that doesn’t sacrifice style, the trench coat is the way to go. BR’s trench coat carries that classic style with a more modern cut.
Originally worn by European and American navy crewmen, the peacoat is a dedicated outer layer that’s made of warm and heavy wool. They’re shorter than many other overcoats, with double-breasted design, broad lapels, and large buttons.
J.Crew updated their take on the famous naval coat with an authentic, straight fit, corduroy-lined pockets, reinforced buttons, and Thinsulate to keep you extra warm.
J. Crew’s Dock Peacoat sticks to the traditional purpose of the garment by incorporating a heavy-gauge wool and flap pockets that will keep out winter’s chill.
(By the way, the Dock peacoat is really popular and sells out often, but J.Crew tends to restock throughout winter.)
Long and loose-fitting, the duster has its origins in horseback riding. Made of much lighter materials than other topcoats, their canvas or linen construction is meant more to keep dust, dirt, and rain off of you than to keep you warm.
The Low Rider Duster is a waterproof full-length slicker, made to withstand all climates. Made from treated cotton, this oilskin won’t quit!
Outback Trading Company’s Low Rider Duster displays exactly the sort of cowboy chic that dusters have become known for. Its waxed cotton construction makes it a fully functional rain jacket, too.
7. Puffer Jacket
Developed for the cold and windy environments of mountaineering, puffer jackets have become a popular streetwear garment for wintertime in the city.
Water-repellant, soft down fill, removable hood. The classic Ralph Lauren puffer with subtle Polo branding will serve you well all winter long.
While the original puffer jackets were filled with goose down, most of today’s puffers use synthetic loft materials. Polo Ralph Lauren’s Classic Down Puffer Jacket is a perfect example of the puffer style, and it actually uses 650 down fill, not synthetic material.
We have the Caribou Inuit to thank for the invention of the parka — a waterproof jacket with a fur-lined hood for extra warmth.
A parka engineered to protect you against frigid temperatures. The Eldridge Parka features a durable DWR coating with special Hydrophobic Nanotechnology.
You’ll find them in sizes from hip to knee length, and made from either natural or synthetic fibers. If you live in a particularly cold climate, adding a parka to your wardrobe is a real game-changer.
We love this option from Triple F.A.T. Goose!
9. Chore Coat
The modern chore coat developed out of the necessity of physical laborers for a lightweight but durable outer layer. Loose fitting and always outfitted with plenty of pockets, this workday standby can easily become a signature piece for your casual outfits.
Insulated blanket lining throughout the body, reinforced chest pockets, and a corduroy trimmed collar with snaps for an optional hood. True workwear.
Carhartt’s street cred runs deep, and their chore coat makes it easy to see why. We love the rugged construction that is complemented by a modern fit that can easily be dressed up.
10. Chesterfield Coat
The more formal cousin to the overcoat, Chesterfield coats were developed in 1800s England.
The high-quality cashmere-blended fabric combines warmth and style. Every inch is carefully designed, from the fabric, to the fit, to the functionality.
Traditional versions are characterized by heavy waist suppression with an aggressive waist seam, and can be found in single-breasted or double-breasted varieties. More modern options don’t necessarily have as much waist suppression. Uniqlo’s Wool Cashmere Chesterfield Coat is emblematic of the style.
11. Windproof Coat
Windproof coats were developed as a slimmer and more easily packable alternative to the puffer jacket. These coats are a favorite of outdoor enthusiasts and performance-minded commuters.
This jacket keeps you dry in the nastiest storms. It’s made with AIRSKAPE™ fabric, a clear hydrophilic membrane that absorbs and spreads out moisture for faster drying.
There are as many varieties of windproof coats as there are manufacturers of them, with the common feature being synthetic fibers developed specifically for wind blocking.
Kuhl’s Jetstream Jacket does an admirable job of blending high-tech performance with casual wearability that wouldn’t look out of place on a city street.
12. Rain Coat
Made with the purpose of keeping you dry no matter how heavy the rain might be, rain coats were originally crafted from waxed cotton canvas.
Fixed, well-fitting hood. Reinforced with double layers of fabric over the shoulders and elbows. Two-way front zipper with buttoned protective flap.
They’ll always feature large hoods and flaps over their zippers, effectively preventing any rain from reaching your base layers.
Though better known for their tiny backpacks, Fjallraven’s rain coats are pretty awesome. Their Greenland Winter Jacket is especially nice, and made from recycled polyester and organic cotton.
13. Car Coat
From the early era of automobile adoption comes the car coat. This coat is made for maximum warmth and cut to a length that’s perfect for sitting in your car.
This wool cashmere “classic coat” (all the makings of a car coat, to be honest) from Cole Haan is a polished example, thanks to its single-breasted style and wool / nylon / cashmere blend. The inclusion of a bit of cashmere helps to soften the typical scratchiness of wool.
If you’re in your vehicle a lot over the winter, a car coat should definitely become a staple in your wardrobe. It’ll keep you warm without being overly long and annoying.
14. Sport Coat
The more casual relative of the blazer and formal coat. Sport coats come in a wide variety of materials, patterns, and colors and are meant to be worn without matching pants.
Sport coats come in a wide variety of materials, patterns, and colors and are meant to be worn without matching pants
Dressed up or dressed down, sport coats are a versatile garment that’s become a favorite of professionals and artists alike.
Spier and Mackay’s collection of sport coats shows the range of styles that you’re likely to find in this wardrobe essential.
Similar to a suit jacket but cut more casually, the name “blazer” comes from the bright red cloth worn by members of the rowing club at St. John’s College in Cambridge.
Perfect for outfits that fall between casual and dressy, blazers are excellent for layering in the spring and fall, or when worn with an overcoat in the winter.
As opposed to sport coats, true blazers are made only from solid-colored fabrics… although brands like Rowing Blazers have taken the traditional blazer into a more fashion-forward realm.
Blazers are perfect for outfits that fall between casual and dressy. They also are excellent for layering in the spring and fall, or when worn with an overcoat in the winter.
Perhaps no other men’s coat has become as ubiquitous in today’s world than the hoodie. A casual standby, you’ll find hoodies in every color and pattern imaginable. Choose from zip-up or pullover!
"The 10-Year Pullover is a truly American product, passing through the hands of 20+ American workers on its journey to your doorstep." –Huckberry
Plus, you’ll also be able to find a density of material to match any season outside of summer. The 10-Year Pullover from Flint and Tinder is our recommended go-to for this style. Tough and durable, yet soft and stylish, it’s EG’s favorite hoodie.
The 10-Year line also has a crewneck style, as well as a full zip hooded sweatshirt style. If you haven’t heard of Flint and Tinder, check out our brand review.
17. Bomber Jacket
Also known as a flight jacket, the bomber jacket was designed for Air Force pilots before being taken up by pop culture icons. Lightweight but warming, they’ll sometimes feature fur collars and are available in a wide range of cuts and fits.
Reversible flight jacket with water-resistant nylon on both sides and double zipper pulls
Alpha Industries’ MA-1 Slim Fit Bomber Jacket is our preferred style for this coat, with a nylon outer and polyester inner that complement the drawn-in fit quite well.
18. Loden Coat
Halfway between a cloak and an overcoat, the Loden coat is named after the type of fabric used in its construction. Made of thick and rough wool, it’s a rugged and extra-warm coat that’s become especially popular in Northern Europe.
The quintessential Alpine Loden Overcoat. The "Tirol" was designed to help Austrian men comfortably get through the harsh winter while looking respectable at the same time.
Robert W. Stolz is one of the oldest manufacturers of Loden coats. Their Tirol Traditional Overcoat is an absolute exemplar of the style.
19. Shearling Coat
Made from processed lambskin, shearling coats are naturally heavy and warm, sometimes with a soft fleece outer.
Men's waxy antique cowhide rancher jacket with detachable curly sheepskin collar.
Full sheepskin coats can be harder to find today, but we think that leather jackets with sheepskin collars work just as well — like this Rancher Jacket from Schott NYC.
Alternatively, look for sheepskin jackets in other styles, like this Bomber Jacket from Overland.
Parting Thoughts: Jackets For Every Style and Weather System
No matter if you’re battling a rainstorm, snow flurries, or an extra windy afternoon, there’s a perfect coat out there for you. Ideally you have several coats, depending on the weather conditions you encounter most.
This will also change based on where you live. In warmer climates, for example, a trench coat may be the heaviest overcoat you need in your closet.
After taking a look through all of the different types of coats, which ones caught your eye the most?
Hit us up on Instagram if you have any coat-related questions.
|11/09/2022||Updated text, broken links, added clarifying text for overcoats|
|12/03/2021||Updated broken links, added more text to sections|
|01/21/2021||Original publish date|