Coats have been known to come in many colors, are sometimes lined with fleece, and have kept more than a few gumshoes dry during drizzly stakeouts. These rugged cousins to jackets are also worn to protect a man’s finely tailored suit.

The frock coat was the precursor to the modern overcoat. Introduced in the early 19th century, they had knee-length skirts all around, in contrast to coats with tails and cutaways. Edwardian-style frock coats, which were usually double breasted, also had a seam at the waist.

Crombies were similar to frock coats except they were worn as overcoats, were single-breasted, and were usually made of wool. Formal Chesterfields came in double- or single-breasted styles, while covert coats, named for the fabric they were made of, were designed for riding.

The Macintosh, or mac for short, is yet another coat with roots in the 1800s. Created by Scottish inventor Charles Macintosh in 1823, the fabric was a sandwich of cotton, rubber, and cotton. Originally conceived as a material for tarpaulins, the fabric was quickly picked up by tailors and made into raincoats, which worked fine once Macintosh figured out how to plug the holes made by sewing the cloth together.

When they were first introduced in the 19th century, morning or cutaway coats were intended to be less formal alternatives to frock coats, but by the 20th century they had become associated with weddings, funerals, and other formal occasions. In the United States, for example, the Solicitor General typically wore a morning coat when arguing before the Supreme Court.

Woolen pea coats are just one of many types of coats with a military background—sailors in numerous European navies wore pea coats throughout the 1800s. During World War I, British military overcoats made by Burberry out of waterproofed gabardine were so popular they remained fashionable long after the war ended.

In fact, between the wars, modern trench coats, as they were known due to their World War I associations, evolved directly from these Burberry military coats. Trench coats were a...

World War II added the duffel coat to the menu of men’s overcoats. This was a bit more casual looking than a trench coat, probably because of touches like horn toggles instead of buttons, patch pockets, and a pullover hood that cinched tightly at the neck to keep out the cold.

British Field-Marshall Montgomery wore a duffel coat during the war, while Northern Soul music enthusiasts embraced the garment several decades later. Around the same time that those kids were shivering in line waiting to get into The Twisted Wheel and other clubs, the Godfather of soul, James Brown, was cutting a fantastic figure in calf-length leather coats.

Naturally, this look was too good for Hollywood to pass up. By 2003, when “The Matrix Reloaded” was released, actor Laurence Fishburne was costumed in a clone of Brown’s coat, but to give the coat some Morpheus-appropriate attitude Fishburne’s frock was made out of black alligator.

About our sources | Got something to add?

▼ Expand to read the full article ▼

Best of the Web (“Hall of Fame”)

The Black Tie Guide

The Black Tie Guide

Peter Marshall became an authority on formalwear out of necessity — he needed a tux to wear on the maiden transat… [read review or visit site]

Fashion Columbia Study Collection

Fashion Columbia Study Collection

The Fashion Columbia Study Collection (FCSC) is the digital home of the Columbia College Chicago’s fashion archiv… [read review or visit site]

Most watched eBay auctions    

Vintage Mens Jeans Denim Chore Farm Work Coat Jacket Nuff Stuff Bes Tuvall. RareVtg 20s 1926 Dated 3 Button Blazer Sport Coat Jacket Kinney Tailors DepressionVintage 1960s 70s Leather Biker Worn Jacket Coat Punk Cafe Racer Small 38Vintage Rare 1940s Leather Biker Horsehide Jacket Coat Aero Cafe Racer Large 42Vintage Us Airforce B3 Mens Aviator Real Sheepskin Flying Jacket Coat 38 Small Wwii -uss Sea Devil- Vintage Us Navy Submarine Foul Weather Uniform Deck CoatBurberry London Harrods 3/4 Length Single Trench Over Coat Khaki Uk/us 40Vintage 1970s Leather Biker Worn Jacket Coat Punk Cafe Racer Medium 40Vintage Lee Jelt Denim Jean 91-j Sanforized Usa Union Made Coat Work Jacket 46rEdwardian 1920s Vintage Men's Double Breasted Belted Automobile Duster CoatRare Mid 18th C Men’s Silk Waist Coat W Metallic Gold Bullion TrimsVtg Deadstock 60s Vietnam Us Army 1st Model M-65 Field Coat Jacket Og-107 (m15)Vintage 1970s Leather Biker Worn Jacket Coat Punk Cafe Racer Medium 40Vtg Deadstock 70s Us Army M-65 M-1965 Bdu Field Coat Jacket Og-107 M Short (m14)Old Vintage 40's Kurland Star Leather Biker Bomber Jacket Coat Men's Clothing Vintage Black Wool Tailcoat Formal Wear Tail Coat 34 Chest Silk Covered Buttons Vintage Usa Schott Bros Rancher Western Cowboy Bike Leather Size 42 Jacket Coat Vtg 1992 Ralph Lauren Polo Hi Tech Mens Ultrex Ski Jacket/coat Tech L. Fits Big.Burberry Vintage Coat Jacket Mens 80's Casual, Mod Indie Lg/extra 30 Yrs OldVtg Deadstock 70s Vietnam Us Army M-65 M-1965 Field Coat Jacket Og-107 Sml (m16)Vintage 50's Field And Stream Horsehide Leather Swayback Bomber Coat Jacket LgVintage -royal Marines Band- British Military Dress Blue Uniform Coat/jacketVintage 1944 Ww2 Wwii Us Army Wool Officers Uniform Jacket Coat 34 RegVintage 1930's Mens Fine Wool Waist Coat/vest Chest 40"Antique Medical Doctor's Clothing Lot Ca. 1900 Coat, Vest, 3 Shirts + Bowler HatVtg 60s Hawaiian Vegas Rat Pack Tux Tuxedo Lounge Coat Jacket Mens Size 48 L Gianni Versace Vintage 80's "miami Vice" Sport Coat Blazer Jacket 44r. Vtg 60s Vegas Rat Pack Hawaiian Tux Tuxedo Lounge Coat Jacket Mens Size 42 RHalston Vintage Dark Blue Velvet Mens Coat Jacket Blazer 44 Mint Condition RareTexas Tanning Vintage Shearling Sheepskin Fur Marlboro Man Usa Jacket Coat 42Vtg 60s Steerhide Leather Motorcycle Biker Cafe Racer Jacket Coat Usa Made 34Vintage Tommy Hilfiger Mens Leather Coat XlVintage 40s Hbt Shop Coat Workwear Union Made Los Angeles California Woolrich Vintage 44 Thick Shell Red Wool Hunting Coat Jacket Vintage 1980s Men’s Woolrich Charcoal & Cherry Coat Sz 44 Vintage Michael Hoban Soft Leather Biker Bomber Jacket Coat American Flag 70s LMens Vintage Plaid Zip Up Usa Johnson Woolen Mills Hunting Jacket CoatMens Vintage 1950s Kuppenheimer Cashmere Over Coat / Black Houndstooth / Xl70s Vtg Fitted Waist Black Leather Coat Jacket, Sz Xl/ 50?Vintage Universal Pictures Leather Bomber Flight Coat Jacket Usa Mens XxlVintage Pendleton Lobo Mens Hooded Wool Barn/ Hunting CoatVintage Nos Lee Sanforized Union Made 100% Cotton Twill Service Coat Jacket 40Vintage Woolrich 40s Plaid Wool Jacket Coat Six Pockets Hunting Winter ZipperVintage Men's Pendleton Wool Coat Jacket 1960's Grey & Black Western Size LargeMens Vintage Retro Trench Style Dress Coat Overcoat Atomic Fleck Wool Blnd Usa MVintage Vtg Nautica Mens Brown Leather Suede Navy Blue Green Coat Jacket L LargeVintage Military Parka Coat Insulated Zippered Hood Army GreenVintage Men's Leather Michael Hoban Wheremi Wolf Jacket Coat Poppin Vgc L@@kNative American Vtg Woolrich Sz Medium Striped Blanket Pullover/overhead CoatOld Style Beer Vtg 80's Fleece Lined Heileman Driver Jacket Coat Cubs ShearlingVintage 70s Buck Skin Leather Cafe Racer Motorcycle Coat Jacket Mens 40