Many of you ask us for opinions on men's winter coats. What material ? What cut? How to recognize a quality coat?
And we understand why. The coat is the centerpiece of our wardrobe when fall / winter arrives. Piece that we will wear every day to fight against low temperatures.
So this introduces two important things:
- you have to find a coat versatile enough to wear it with everything
- you have to be sure to invest in quality (it's an expensive part)
Here is our guide to choosing the right winter coat.
THE RAW MATERIALS FOR A GOOD MEN'S COAT
1. WOOL COATS
When you want warmth, nothing better than a woolen sheet (there are several varieties). It is an insulating fabric even in rainy weather, breathable and comfortable. And it adapts well to the shape of the body.
Polyester and acrylic are therefore avoided. Or really very little: at least 70% wool!
When a synthetic material is added in small proportion (less than 10%), it is possibly to improve the hold of the part. But beyond that, it indicates that the wool chosen is a wool of lower quality.
Let me explain ! If we add synthetic to strengthen the piece, it is because the chosen wool is a short wool of second choice, or that it is recycled. Quality wool with longer fibers is sufficient on its own.
The problem with plastics is that they are not breathable. You will therefore sweat when you go from cold to hot (metro, bus, buildings) or when you walk in the street.
So whenever possible, prefer natural fibers. Michel explains all that very well in this article.
The best of the best are the wool blends with mohair, alpaca, cashmere, etc. These mixtures allow each advantage of each material to be combined. For example, the softness of cashmere, the shine of mohair or the lightness of alpaca, with the resistance of wool.
There, just to dream, we hit the really heavy with a vicuña coat: the rarest and softest material in the world.
These mixtures are spreading more and more (especially in men's fashion), but let's not forget that this comes at a price; wool-blend coats under 200 € have certain things to hide:
- Poor quality raw material
- Poor assembly
- Or a poorly paid workforce
2. THE BIG FAMILIES OF WOOL FABRICS
The sheet is to be distinguished from the drapery, a family of much lighter fabrics called "tailor weight". The drapery is used for making costumes while the sheet is used for the coat. We therefore find:
- Coats weight = 500gr / mL (we are talking about sheets),
- Tailor's weight = 150gr / mL (we speak of drapery).
mL meaning "linear meter", or the mass of 1m roll of cloth, generally 1.50m wide (this width is called the "width")
This is the first category that interests us, there are three variants.
More widespread in women's fashion than in men's fashion, these are wools worked in a fairly loose knit. These woolens are warm but allow air to pass through. They are more relevant for jackets than for coats (which are worn as an outer layer).
For example, we can think of some tweeds whose irregular and fluffy texture you already know.
They are obtained by the fusion of two fabrics woven together, sometimes used double-sided: a different color on each side.
This is ideal for a men's cashmere coat, the inner side of which is extremely comfortable to wear.
There is also an aesthetic interest with cuffs that contrast the spot.
These are the most common. A woolen fabric is quite fine and its appearance can be irregular: this is where fulling comes in.
This involves immersing the canvas in a bath of water and soap, then compacting, rubbing and twisting the material. It will thus shrink to become solid, compact and even more insulating.
Thus, the small interstices between weft threads and warp threads will close again, the epidermal scales of the wool fibers will interlock with each other. This is how the felt is formed on the surface.
This results in a very tight, soft fabric (depending on the quality of the material and the fulling) and, above all, capable of being waterproof and windproof!
Due to the high density of the material after this operation, neither rain nor wind will pass through.
3. RECOGNIZE A QUALITY WEAVING
Without speaking of foamy woolens, which are not widely used in humans 1, we can say that a sheet is beautiful if its texture is very tight and silky in appearance.
On the other hand, it is very difficult to judge the quality to the touch. Some linens are soft, some coarse, but that doesn't indicate anything special. Chemical agents can be added to soften the material and, on the contrary, a somewhat coarse and stiff sheet is often the result of a high density.
Often, but not always! A coarse coat can also be a coat that is mostly synthetic. In short, remember that touch will not be a determining element.
What is needed is to first look at the composition on the label, then check the density of the fabric and its visual appearance.
We have a very tight and very smooth fabric.
Finally, woollens can give more interesting shades than with cotton: they absorb pigments better, the depth and reflections are even more intense.
This is why a quality fulled sheet is striking with its color. Take advantage of this advantage to choose varied tones: do not exclude shades of green, orange and burgundy if you want to change from blue and gray. A beautiful woolen cloth brings out the depth of the colors.
The color, intense, is nuanced according to the light: a superb dye job! Wooyoungmi coat.
4. SYNTHETIC AND TECHNICAL MATERIALS
If we are talking about down jackets or parkas, synthetic materials provide greater resistance and other properties unlike wool or cotton. In this precise case, the synthetic can be interesting.
But beware, I am talking about technical clothing made of synthetic materials with high added value like Norwegian Rain (microfibers, Teflon treatments, nanomaterials, micro alveoli and other exotic finishes), and not low-end clothing with polyester to cut costs.
On this point, quality is largely determined by the brand used. The fabrics that bear the Gore-Tex® label are legion since it is a reference in techwear, renowned for the waterproofness and windproof properties of its technology.
These are the only cases where synthetic materials can be of real interest. Because no one likes to feel their underwear soaking wet in heavy rain. For more details on this subject, I invite you to read my article on how to dress when it rains.
5. COATED AND WATERPROOF COTTON
Raincoats like the trench coat and Mackintosh 2 are usually cotton. A cotton that is made waterproof by adding a coating composed of rubber.
In fact, the coating consists of waterproofing the material: the small interstices present between the warp threads and the weft threads are filled with a coating that is imperceptible to the eye. This process makes the cotton completely water repellent.
It is a technique that is rarely practiced on wool, because it is more difficult to achieve, but which offers the same advantages.
6. LEATHER AND WOOL SKIN
What could be nicer, in cold weather, than wrapping up in a good leather jacket? So buy a high quality fur coat or jacket for men !
Sheepskin has always been recognized as the perfect material to stay warm in winter. Sheep have a curly coat, while lamb offers a coat of incomparable softness. This piece is noble, rare and constitutes a real investment.
Usually, the returned leather is suede on the outside: it should then have an extremely soft feel, a regular velvet appearance and, if possible, little or no traces of veins, stitching, etc.
However, it is more and more common to find leather that is lightly waxed (like the Zapa above) or just plain smooth. Inside, the fur should be dense, soft AND even - especially not rough, even if it is curly.
Finally, leather is sometimes encrusted on coats, by yokes, to serve a creative purpose. + There, you will have to make a choice:
You are looking for a noble leather, therefore with a "dipped" / aniline finish, vegetable tanned, with an extremely soft touch that will acquire a patina ... But in this case, forget rain and snow: it will not tolerate any of that!
Either you opt for a less natural, coated leather, which will be able to withstand small showers.