The definitive guide to finding the best formal coat in Australia.
The Chesterfield | The Formal Coat
When I think “overcoat” the first thing that comes to mind is a Chesterfield. Perhaps the most formal overcoat style you can own today, it was surprisingly once considered a more casual option. Of course, this was before the constrictive Regency-era frock coat went out of fashion, so casual at least for the 18th century.
The classic Chesterfield is a slightly shaped coat that comes in both single-breasted and double breasted configurations, with a fly front and no horizontal front seams (found in older coat models).
The origins of the coat’s name are unclear. Some sources claim that it was named after the Earl of Chesterfield (who may or may not have worn it in the 19th century). More likely, the name was just a marketing ploy that capitalised on the prestige of the aristocracy (ad men were scummy even back then).
Unlike the other coats in this series, which were designed or derived from country or military garments, the chesterfield is a town coat, designed to be worn specifically in the city. There are no “functional” details on the Chesterfield – it doesn’t have button tab cuffs and the most traditional versions even feature velvet collars (designed to make cleaning and replacing them easier when men wore wigs).
Where to Buy
It’s almost impossible to find a ridgy didge Chesterfield off-the-rack. Raiding your local Salvos might produce something worthwhile but otherwise I think having something made is the only way ahead.
Oscar Hunt have nice made to measure single-breasted and double-breasted models at an entry level price point (pictured above). Both models on their website come with a contrast velvet collar which can be removed if it’s not your thing. The style is classic but not pretentious and less severe than what you might find in your grandpas closet (note the lack of a fly front on the single-breasted model and check out our feature on the boys if you haven’t already.)
Besides made-to-measure, I would recommend seeking out the services of a bespoke tailor. Check out Bijan Bespoke or J.H Cutler in Sydney for something with a more traditional English flavour and Carbone Tailors and Anthony Squires’s soon to be introduced full bespoke services in Melbourne.