Finding The Best Men’s Coats in Australia: The Iconic Polo Coat

Part 3 of our guide to finding the best men’s coats in Australia.

Gatsby Osaka in Camel Hair Polo Coat | Photo via @gatsby_osaka
When your boi says his style icon is David Beckham… | Photo via @gatsby_osaka

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.

Richard Gere wearing a Polo Coat from Giorgio Armani in American Gigolo. Gere's model features a wrap belt that harkens back to the original robe like waitcoat. | Photo via. Wall Street Journal
Richard Gere wearing a Polo Coat from Giorgio Armani. Gere’s model features a wrap belt that harkens back to the original robe like waitcoat. | Photo via. Wall Street Journal

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.

Yukio Akamine in a polo coat next to Scott Schumann at Pitti 93 photographed by Jamie Ferguson for The Rake
“Scott, forgive these peacocks for they call themselves ‘dapper’. Whatever the hell that means. ” | Menswear consultant Yukio Akamine in a Polo Coat next to Scott Schumann at Pitti 93 | Photographed by Jamie Ferguson for The Rake

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.

Though the Polo Coat is associated with Mid-Century American style its silhouette works with both formal and casual fits. Thrown over leisurewear gear, the coat’s lines add shape, resulting in interesting juxtapositions. | Photo via The Sartorialist

Where to Buy

The Polo Coat is one of those few garments that deserves to be made by a bespoke tailor.

The most stylish ones in Australia, that I’ve seen, are from the The Finery Company who offer bespoke coats from Shenzhen based tailor Zing Chen.

 

Zing Chen Bespoke Charcoal Wool Polo Coat available at The Finery Company |Photo via. The Finery Company
Zing Chen Bespoke Charcoal Wool Polo Coat available at The Finery Company |Photo via. The Finery Company

 

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:

Part 1: The Top Coat

Part 2: The Chesterfield

Part 4: The Ulster

Part 5: The Loden Coat

Cover photo via Andreas Weinas. B&Tailor Polo Coat available via The Finery Company.

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