Most overcoats these days come about mid-thigh. That’s partly because most are worn by men who drive on a regular basis, so they need to be long enough to cover a sport coat or suit jacket, but not so long that they’d get in the way as the wearer enters or exits a car. There’s also been a trend for the last ten or fifteen years for shorter and shorter clothes. The hems for tailored jackets and trousers, for example, have slowly crept up over the years, and along with them, the hems of overcoats.
There are few things better than a long overcoat, however. Something that comes down to your knees – possibly even longer – can add a sense of drama to whatever else you’re wearing. With a suit, a long overcoat can feel commanding and authoritative. With a chunky sweater and some jeans, they can add a touch of sophistication to an otherwise casual ensemble. The best part comes when you move. When the hem of an overcoat hangs around your knees, it can sway in a really beautiful way as you walk.
There aren’t that many places that sell long overcoats, unfortunately. Ben Silver, O’Connell’s, Cordings, Brooks Brothers, and Ralph Lauren have them in fairly traditional designs, while Chimala, Eidos, and Camoshita have them in slightly more fashion-forward styles. For more bang-for-your-buck, try eBay or your local thrift store. Since overcoats tend to be durably built and classically styled, they’re the kind of thing you can easily buy second-hand for not too much money and still wear today.
When choosing one, pay attention to fit, but don’t be afraid to play around a bit with proportions. A long overcoat with soft shoulders, worn slightly oversized, can make for a great statement piece. Pair one with a scarf for a rakish look.
(Photos via The Sartorialist, Voxsartoria, Tommy Ton, Milstil, and StyleForum user Lefty)