Question from a reader:
I need to get a nice winter coat to wear everyday with my suits. I'd love a nice cashmere, but I know they're over my budget. What do you suggest under $500?
Much like choosing a sport coat or a suit, navy and grey are the best options for overcoats. During the three-part series on coats, I touched on the paletot, the single breasted and the trench. For the go-to coat, I would recommend the double breasted paletot, especially for use with sport coats and trousers or suits. However, since we're in December, the availability is limited in a decent price range, so the single breasted overcoat is the best option.
Either navy or grey will work will a multitude of suit options. That said, if your business wear is more formal (dark suits versus sport coats), then a charcoal topcoat will provide the best harmony, pairing well with suits and even formal-wear. The single breasted coat, provided it's a heavier fabric, should take you through the winter with adequate layers under.
Now for a few choices under $500. Suit Supply and J.Crew have some good options in that price range. Scouring ebay is risky, especially as temperatures are quickly dropping. Risky, but still worth a try. Local consignments may carry used, but more luxurious, options at a substantial discount. For the safest route, try some of these below companies.
Suit Supply coat ($469) is understated and practical. It's cut a bit shorter than a more traditional overcoat. The trade off is cold legs for a more trim silhouette. A similar option is available in grey.
J.Crew offers a similar topcoat ($495) with a more formal peak lapel. Items typically go on sale regularly and thus, the price quoted does not take that into account.
Bonobos offers a 100% wool topcoat for a just under the budget at $498. It's a simple three button, single breasted style that's innocuous and versatile at the same time.
Ultimately, for the man looking for that one versatile topcoat, the single breast is best, since it works with tailored clothing as well as sportswear.