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    

Superb Vtg 40s Motorcycle Barnstormer Belted Trench Coat Jacket Size LargePolo Ralph Lauren Suicide Ski Cookie Patch Down Heavy Jacket Coat L 90s RareHarris Tweed Great Coat Overcoat Peacoat Vintage Vtg Dunn Perfect Conditon VgcRrl Ralph Lauren Belt-back 1930s Vintage Rp Plaid Mackinaw Coat L Workwear WoolAntique 1860 Mens Civil War Era Velvet Wedding Waist Coat Vest~vintage ClothingWwi 13 Star Peacoat Rp Ralph Lauren 1910s 1920s 1930s Pea Coat S Navy Pre-warVtg Woolrich Hudson Bay Striped Blanket Wool Pullover Coat Henley Jacket Women LVintage German Officer's Leather Coat (xl) Echt Rindleder Euro Size 56Mens Vintage 1980s Leather Shearling Coat Sz L*Shaggy Vtg 1980s Chestnut Brown Wolf Real Fur Coat Yeti Boho 10 12North Face Mens Black Pocketed Down Insulated Coat Sz Xxl*Vintage Woolrich 503 Red Buffalo Plaid 100% Wool Lumberjack Coat /hunting JacketVtg 70s 80s Tuak Hand Knit Blue Cream Wool Cowichan Cardigan Sweater Jacket CoatVtg 60s Sf Usa Big E Levi's Golden Sand Suede Leather Trucker Jacket Coat 46 LVtg Jc Penney 30’s Shadow Plaid Blanket Coat Jacket Double Breasted MackinawVtg Genuine Shearling Leather Lamb Skin Sears Coat Jacket 40 38 Sheepskin 1970sVintage 40s 50s Leather Horshide Coat Jacket Cafe Racer,motorcycle Military Ww2Vtg 80s The North Face National Ski Patrol Uniform Jacket Coat Gore Tex Parka MLacoste Vintage Long Jacket Coat Logo Very Nice Ultra Rare Sz 52 Xl DevanlayVtg 1950s Atomic Fleck Blazer 46 48 Long Jacket Rockabilly Sport Coat Elvis VlvVtg 1930s 1940s 30s 40s Navy Blue Double Breasted Pinstripe Suit Coat 36 37 NewVtg 50s Horsehide Leather Bomber Flight Coat Jacket Mens 44C.c. Filson Virgin Wool Coat Vintage Red Size 38 Very OldVintage 80s Nike Red Label Nylon Windbreaker Coat Jacket Mens MediumSamuel Martin_40s Vintage Heathered Sporting Jacket Sport Coat-leather PatchesVintage Wwii Era Military Ski Patrol Sheep Lined Jacket ,mid Length CoatVintage Mens Aquascutum Rain Coat Mac Trench Overcoat XxlVtg Pendleton Wool Plaid Hunting Coat Jacket Usa Mens MediumMens 42 Vintage Pure New Wool Camel Military Crombie Covert Winter Overcoat CoatVintage Men's Harris Tweed Gray Wool Over Coat Top Coat Gorgeous 46 / 48 / XlVtg Toyota Swingster Supplex Jacket Coat Windbreaker 80’s Xl Usa Mini TruckinVintage Xl Woolrich Jacket Coat Rockabilly Hipster Greaser Atomic 1950'sVintage Overcoat, Top Coat Retro 'large Herringbone Pattern Wild CoatKiller Rockabilly Mod ~70s Vegas Elvis~brocade Tuxedo Smoking Jacket Coat, MVintage 70s Lee Burgundy Velvet Coat Jacket Mens MediumExceptional Vintage! Harris Tweed By Alexandre Car Coat Mens 40 Vintage Pure New Wool Camel Military Crombie Covert Winter Overcoat CoatVtg Woolrich Shirt Jacket Mackinaw Red Wool Hunting Outdoor Coat PocketsRare Vintage Island Republic Sandy Corduroy & Leather Padded Coat - 52" ChestBlack Wool Knit Built-in-scarf Vintage 70s Boho Poncho Wrap Cape Jacket Coat OsVintage Brooks Leather Motorcycle Biker Cafe Racer Jacket Coat Detroit MichiganVtg 1986 80s Guess By Georges Marciano Denim Bomber Jean Jacket Leather Coat XlVtg 50's Wwii Us Navy Eight Button Peacoat Corduroy Pockets Wool Pea Coat 38Mens 100% Virgin Wool Vintage Pendleton Western Suit Jacket Coat Brown Twill @Vtg Stetson Cowboy Men's Sherpa Embroidered Suede Coat 42 Western Rancher BarnVintage 70s Mens Blackwatch Plaid Blazer Jacket Sport Coat Wool Classic L 42 ROverland Sheepskin Co. Mens Vintage Leather Coat M Size 40Vtg 30s 40s Curlee Clothes Thick Wool Windowpane Pattern Coat Overcoat HollywoodVtg Anheuser Busch Beer Jacket Coat Budweiser Stadium Varsity Bud Mens Size XlVintage Pioneer Wear Western Style Sport CoatVintage 70s Mens Gray Houndstooth Retro Car Coat Jacket Tweed Faux-fur Large 44Vtg Ocean Pacific Op Rainbow Color Nylon Windbreaker Coat Jacket Mens XlVintage 80s Nike Red Label Nylon Windbreaker Coat Jacket Mens LargeVintage North Face Extreme Steep Tech Ski Jacket Coat Mens LRare Crombie Aberdeen 42 R Black Grey Herringbone 100% Wool Long Overcoat CoatVtg 70s Jc Penney's Towncraft Suede Leather Sherpa Lined Ranch Jacket Coat Sz MVintage Wool Deer Hunting Coat Jacket Chippewa Size 42 Wisconsin Original WoolVtg 1964 Heavy Navy Blue Wool Cincinnati Ohio Police Dress Over Coat 40-42 LargeCoat 3/4 Leather(rust)men Size 42tall Leather Shop Coll.-sears Vintage1960s Mens Vintage Black Motorcycle Racing Jacket Size 44 Stripes Clothing Coat