(We do live in the woods and have a very active German Shepherd Dog, after all.)
But, then again, when I actually did need to wear a more formal overcoat, however infrequently that may have been, I would get upset that I did not have a suitable piece of outerwear for the occasion and I’d always feel like I wasn’t dressed appropriately.
That’s why I finally decided to give this area of my wardrobe some TLC. And what better place to start than with one of the all-time classics, a camel overcoat.
Why you should have a camel overcoat
I suppose you could make the argument that if you’re only going to have one overcoat in your outerwear collection and that it’s one that you plan to wear on more formal occasions that you might be better off choosing something like a double-breasted charcoal gray overcoat or something in a dark navy.
It’s certainly a good thought. And it’s a thought that I definitely wouldn’t say is wrong.
But the question you should be asking yourself any time you are looking to add something to your wardrobe—especially something you’re planning to drop a little bit of coin on—is: how can I get the most out of this?
What we’re talking about here is one of my cardinal rules of menswear: versatility
Is it true that a single- or double-breasted charcoal gray or navy overcoat will be more formal than a camel colored overcoat?
Without a doubt. But the more formal the garment, the fewer the opportunities are to wear it.
Think about it.
A tuxedo, for example. Don’t get me wrong, I think every man should own a classic black or midnight navy blue tuxedo—you never wish you had one until it’s too late—but are you really getting much use out of it on a regular basis?
(Maybe a tuxedo is a bad example because it’s so specific, but I think you catch my drift.)
Considering overcoats in charcoal gray, dark navy blue, and camel through the lens of versatility, the choice is clear. Camel will always will because it is much easier to style in a variety of scenarios from formal to casual (yes, I said it and mean it!) and all those nebulous dress code gradations in between.
Styling a camel overcoat
When you get down to it—we’re talking brass tacks here—there really is no wrong way to wear or style a camel overcoat. Technically, it would be considered a more “formal” piece of outerwear, but because of its neutral color as well as its lengthy history and tradition in menswear (though it might be better to say “despite” that), it can be appropriated and worn in a variety of ways based on one’s own personal style.
Throw it on over a cream-colored turtleneck paired with some black jeans and minimal white leather sneakers and you’ve got an incredibly sophisticated outfit that’s relaxed and hip. It’s a pretty cool juxtaposition.
However, the most classic way to style a camel overcoat is with a suit, which is what I wanted to highlight in this post.
Here, I’m wearing it over our navy blue chalk stripe flannel suit. You can never go wrong pairing a classic with a classic and there’s really nothing more harmonious than combining navy blue and camel colors.
Since the coat is a solid color, I decided to have a little more fun with patterns underneath. In addition to the suit’s subtle chalk stripe, I’ve also got on our classic bengal striped dress shirt pair with a brown medallion printed wool tie.
Two illustrations of how to mix and match patterns going on here.
First, if you’re pairing similar patterns, make sure you vary the size and scale. That’s what I’ve done with the stripes here with the subtle chalk stripe and the busier bengal stripe.
And second, combine two different types of patterns—the medallion print of the tie and the bengal stripe of the shirt.
A bold pair of Jacques Marie Mage sunglasses gives the look a sense of contemporary freshness while still maintaining a sense of menswear classicism and tradition.
A note on length
By now you’ve likely noticed the length of this particular overcoat. I’d like to address it since the comments I’ve received after posting it to both Instagram and in various YouTube videos have been divisive.
Some have applauded the length and sung its praises for its uber-classic old-school style, while others have derided it with exceptionally insightful comments, like “COAT TOO LONG! LOOKS STUPID!”
The truth is the length is neither right nor wrong. It’s what I wanted.
I opted for a longer length for a couple reasons.
First, I have a few knee-length or just below knee-length coats. These are fine, but the extra length really adds to the formality of the coat when you’re styling it that way.
Second, with my tailored clothing, I have begun to want garments with a more slightly more traditional and relaxed fit overall. Super tight slim fit isn’t for me (and neither should it be for you) and the full drape thing can just end up looking a bit costumey for my taste. Keeping it classic and comfortable is where I’m at and I think it looks pretty darn nice.
If you love this coat, but would like it to be a little shorter, just let us know when you book your free online consultation and we can make it however you want.
Thanks for reading.