Part 3 of our guide to finding the best men’s coats in Australia.
There are a ton of overcoat styles available but none more iconic than the Polo Coat.
Why? Because nothing combines the comfort of a robe with the sophistication of the traditional overcoat quite like it.
Usually thought of as an American style, the Polo Coat is actually derived from an early 20th Century English coat. The original version, known as the “waitcoat”, was worn by English polo players between matches – hence the name – and featured a wraparound belt and a relaxed shape that kept the players looking smart yet casual.
Ivy Leaguers holidaying in Europe took note of the sophisticated style, and brought it back stateside to flex on their peers at intercollegiate tournaments. Its association with privileged youths made it the quintessential coat of the American leisure-class: a garment that captured both their ignorant bliss and their fondness for aristocratic sports.
Little has changed about the Polo Coat since. Today it still features a double-breasted front, wide lapels, length that extends past the knee, patch pockets, set-in sleeves, turnback cuffs, and a rear half-belt; details that marry old-world elegance and new-world romanticism.
The coat also remains prohibitively expensive. Authentic Polo Coats are made of camel hair, or a blend of camel hair, wool, cashmere and alpaca – fabrics prized for their luxurious softness, warmth, and delicate fibres. It also takes about four yards of the stuff to make a single coat, making the original inaccessible to all but the wealthiest individuals or hardcore enthusiasts.
It’s a shame then that this classic overcoat is so hard to find in Australia. Perhaps its light colour and delicate cloth are too opulent for our egalitarian culture. Or perhaps its tailored silhouette is just too “old-school” for guys working in “dress-how-you-feel” offices. The only thing “old-school”, I think, is this narrow way of thinking.
Where to Buy
The Polo Coat is one of those few garments that deserves to be made by a bespoke tailor.
The Zing Chen model is conservative but captures the relaxedness of modern tailoring. Unlike the original, the coat features slightly peaked ulster style lapels instead of the more dramatic peaks more common in the US. Zing Chen has also added rounded flapped patch pockets, as well as turn-back cuffs that echo the lines of the barchetta (“gondolla shaped”) breast pocket. The coat is formal yet soft enough to straddle the line between tradition and modernity. Patrician without being authoritarian, commanding without being severe, the Zing Chen model whispers quiet power.
Read the Rest of our Best Coats Series: