Men's Outerwear Guide

Even if sunny Southern California is home base, big business always means face-to-face meetings in cold weather cities like New York, Washington, or Paris. Don't get caught without a suitable coat. It makes you look unprepared and uncomfortable, which is not what potential clients and partners like to see.

Every mam needs a topcoat to wear over suits. Invest in a full-length dark navy, black, or charcoal gray coat. The fabric should be a natural wool, as rich as you can afford and as warm as you need. Cashmere is the ultimate. Get as close as possible.

When judging quality , think of it as another suit coat. Look at seams, buttons and buttonholes, rear vent, and the lay of the collar and lapels. Topcoats should look as crisply tailored as a suit. The fit should he equally refined. The ideal is generous enough to slide easily over the suit, hut not so oversized that you look like a five-year-old in Daddy's coat. The sleeves should be longer than either your suit or shirt sleeves by a half-inch. Don’t let them hang down over your hands (again, the kid thing), but do cover your wrists entirely.

The hem length hits just below the knee to somewhere around mid-calf. Any shorter and it becomes a three—quarter length car coat.

Secondary color choices for topcoats are certain dark tweeds and camel. None of these has the presence of navy, but a wool camel or real camel hair is considered a classic. A dark coat is most serviceable in the long run, however.


TIP: If you’re not apt to wear the topcoat often, a classic full-length raincoat with a zip-out lining may suffice for business dress. It’s not as polished as the wool topcoat and certainly won't go over your tuxedo at night. but it's better than shivering.



Even if you have a topcoat, you also need a raincoat. The most common cuts for distinguished raincoats are the trench or a balmacaan. The former is double-breasted with a yoke, epaulets, and a belt, or some combination thereof. The latter is single-breasted with raglan sleeves and a small rounded collar. Most come in some shade of tan, beige, or khaki, which makes them suitable year-round. Fabric is usually cotton twill or wool gabardine. Leather is out of the question, unless you're an aspiring loan shark, pimp, or thug.

Taller men can wear either trench or balmacaan. Shorter men arc better off in the balmacaan because it’s less cluttered.

If you do go for the trench, mind the belt. If weather warrants wearing the coat buttoned and belted, tie the fabric belt in a knot around your waist so there are two even ends hanging. lf you buckle the belt, one long end flops aimlessly and looks silly.

lf you don't use the belt, knot it the same way around the back so it’s not flapping around. Whatever you do, Don’t remove the belt. Empty loops look like you lost something. Who wants to look like a loser?


Don't let your overcoat drag your look down 

It's cold, dress coats are expensive, and you have a perfectly good green down parka with a hood in the closet. Don’t even think about it.

Jackets are meant for casual and recreational wear. Putting one over a suit is like the Boston Red Sox wearing tux jackets over their uniforms. it doesn‘t work. It defeats the purpose of the outfit in both form and function. Find a way to get a full-length coat, even if it means searching secondhand resources for a quality pre-owned model. Repeat the mantra: Dress to the position you want. not the position you have.