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    

Vtg Mens Leather Motorcycle Biker Cafe Racer Usa Jacket Coat Brando Perfecto LgeVtg Mens B-3 Sheepskin Leather Shearling Bomber Flying Biker Fur Jacket Coat LgeVintage Filson Green Wool Cruiser Hunting Coat Jacket Usa Mens 42Burberry London 3/4 Length Belted Trench Over Coat Light Brown Size 461930s - 1940s Chippewa Man's Wool Top Coat. Cool Rare Style.Genuine Vintage M-1943 Field Jacket World War 2 Wwii Us Army Coat Nice Shape 36rVtg Mens B-3 Sheepskin Leather Shearling Bomber Flying Biker Fur Jacket Coat M/lVtg Mens B-3 Sheepskin Leather Shearling Bomber Flying Biker Fur Jacket Coat LgeVtg Duxbak Rain Proof Duck Hunting Coat Jacket Canvas 1920 - 1930's?Vintage 50's Hercules Horsehide Leather Bomber Coat Jacket Usa Mens 38Vtg Mens B-3 Sheepskin Leather Shearling Bomber Flying Biker Fur Jacket Coat LgeVintage Leather Police Cop Motorcycle Biker Horsehide? Peacoat Coat Jacket 44 46Mens Burberry London Single Trench Over Coat Beige Eu Size 52, Uk/us 42Vtg Mens 70s Leather Motorcycle Biker Cafe Racer Jacket Coat Brando Perfecto LgeVtg. 1960s Hudson's Bay Point Blanket Olympic Men's Mackinaw Coat Multi StripeVintage Duxbak Canvas Duck Hunting Coat Jacket Mens 42Orig Wwii German Sa Gestapo Police Officers Leather Overcoat Great CoatMens Burberry London Single Trench Over Coat Navy Eu 50 Reg, Uk/us 40Black Mens 42 Real Soft Leather Box Bomber Biker Jacket Blazer Coat LakelandVintage Us Military Ww2 Wwii Army Field Jacket Coat M-1943 Mens Burberry Harrods London 3/4 Length Belted Trench Over Coat Navy S/xsVintage 60's Acetate Smoking Coat Jacket Robe Men's Small Heff PlayboyVintage Adidas Jacket Vintage Adidas Shirt Vintage Adidas Coat Adidas VentexVintage Levi Strauss & Co Levi's Men's Denim Fleece Jacket Coat Size Large - W20Super Dux Wool Coat, Size 44-46, 1940's - 1950's Vintage, Like WoolrichVintage 60's Jo-o-kay Suede Leather Western Coat Jacket Usa Mens 38Vintage Schott Rancher Western Leather Coat Jacket Usa Mens 42Great Vintage Western Wool Coat By Pioneer Wear, AlbuquerqueOld Antique Victorian Horse Hair Full Length Cutter Sleigh Fur CoatVintage Sheepskin Coat Mfg By J H Cownie Glove Co Of Des Moines IowaVtg Levi Strauss Trendy Mens Coat Jean Jacket Denim Moto Sz S MVintage Us Military Army Field Jacket Coat M-65 Style Og-107 MediumVintage 70's Blue Leather Blazer Coat Jacket Mens 38Vintage Early 1900s Knights Templar All Black Frock Coat Goth Size 36Vintage 1980s Leather Biker Worn Jacket Coat Punk Cafe Racer Small 38Vtg 60s Robert Chen Green Paisley Blazer Mens Coat Retro Ruby Ramsey Sz 42 44Vintage Pendleton Western Blazer Sport Coat Wool Jacket 46 LongSchott Vintage 70's Mens 38 Navy Military Style 740n Pea Coat JacketVintage Woolrich Plaid Check Pile Lined Wool Jacket Coat Usa Made Mens LFeraud Mens 40 Wool Windowpane Check Tweed Jacket Sport Coat Hacking BlazerBuckskin Leather Fringe Coat Size 38 Jo-o-kay Suede Western Vintage HippieMens Vtg 70s Brown Leather Blazer Trench Fight Club Hipster Car Coat Jacket 44 LVintage Hang Ten Track Jacket Coat Blue Polyester LargeVtg Men's Carter's Dark Black Denim Coats Jacket M Usa Very NiceVintage Military M-65 Style Us Army Field Coat Jacket Usa Made Large Reg