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 1960s - 1970s Lilly Pulitzer Men's Stuff Blazer Coat Jacket Vtg Amazing 50s Fleck Hollywood Blazer Sport Coat Jacket Swing Vlv Atomic ElvisMens L 42 Vintage Tan Brown Leather Flying Box Bomber Biker Jacket Blazer Coat1920s Horsehide Blanket Lined Single Breasted Coat.mint.measure Sz.48 Fit Sz.44 Vtg 40s Hercules Leather Motorcycle Jacket Car Coat Work Wear Outdoor Vintage 1940s Sanforized & Union Made Mechanic Shop Chore Coat / Duster JacketVintage Langlitz Leather Motorcycle Coat Jacket Usa Mens Size 40 LargeVintage 30's 40's Brown Corded Shawl Collar Barnstormer Work Coat -lg- Jacket1920s Men's Double Breasted Raccoon Coat - Superb Construction - 46" Chest42l 1940's Ww2 Gabardine Wool Mouton Fur Top Over Coat Vtg Mod Hogans Heros Euc!True Vintage Velvet Paisley Blazer Sport Coat Mod Hippie Late 1960's Medium 41Vintage Men's Pendleton Reversible Wool Khaki Heavy Barn Coat Field Jacket XlVtg Deadstock ? Us Army M-65 M-1965 Bdu Field Coat Jacket Og-107 M Regular (o4)Vintage 70s Leather Blazer Barnstormer Coat Jacket Usa Mens Size 38Vintage 40s Wool Plaid Hunting Coat Jacket Usa Mens Size 40Vintage N1-2 Military Us Navy Deck Jacket Coat Size Medium M Lined Olive GreenVtg Ralph Lauren Polo Black Label 3 Piece Suit Black Wool Pin Stripe Coat VestVintage 70s Mens Brown Velvet Blazer Jacket Sport Coat Retro Big Lapel L 42 RMen"s Brown Vintage Leather Trench Coat Size Xl-tVintage 50s Mens Gray Striped Levis Casuals Blazer Jacket Sport Coat Wool 38 SBrown Car Coat Cooper 1950's SteerhideVtg Schott Marlboro Man Rustic Shearling Sheepskin Rancher Coat Jacket Mens 40Vintage Woolrich 60/40 Mountain Parka Coat Jacket Usa Mens SmallVtg Sportclad Wool Plaid Hunting Lumberjack Rockabilly Jacket Coat Sz 44 PeacoatVintage Tuxedo Coat TailsVintage Ethnic Tribal Hippie Wool Coat Jacket Made In PeruVintage 1980's Porche Audi Racing Team Nylon Coat Jacket Mens M UsaGreat Vintage Orvis Wool Field Coat / Hunting Jacket / Plaid Lumberjack ShirtVtg Chaps Ralph Lauren Tweed Top Coat 40 Brown  wool Fall Overcoat Autumn WearVintage Woolrich Mens Wool Blend Coat Jacket Gray Heather Size M Medium EucLittle Crow Original Fringed Buckskin Vintage Native American Indian CoatVtg Mens Navy Blue Fox Knapp Sportswear Wool Shirt Jack Coat Anchor Buttons XlVintage Scully Leather Sports CoatVtg Willis And Geiger Outfitters Safari Jacket Coat Sz 40 Made In UsaVtg Harris Tweed Wool Overcoat 46 Gray Beige Fleck Raglan Top Coat Fall WearVintage 50s Lakeland Rockabilly Clicker Coat Jacket Usa Mens 441940's 4btn Db Black Suit Coat ...38 SVintage Ringling And Barnum Brothers & Bailey Circus Men's Jacket Coat Medium 2Vintage Mid Western Sport Tog Deerskin Leather Car Coat Mens Sz 40Cool Authentic Vintage Bur Berrys Men's Wool Coat Jacket Used Good ConditionVtg 1980's Champion University Of Illinois Fighting Illini Football Jacket CoatVtg Woolrich Men's Red Southwest Indian Wool Blanket Coat Jacket Sz LRare Vtg 50s Brown Leather Car Club Motorcycle Coat Jacket Western S Usa BikerVtg 1960’s Royal Cashmere Overcoat 44 Sold Black Soft Feel Top Coat Usa FallVtg 1970's Leather Fringe Jacket Coat 12 Brown Hippie Midnight CowboyVintage Circle S Western Sport Coat/blazer-2 Button-gray & Black-men's 40 LongVtg 60s 70s Sears Gripper Zipper Navy Blue Car Coat Jacket Mens Xl Tall ClickerVintage 60s 70s Silver Faux Fox Fur Vest Jacket Coat Rocker Mod Biker UnisexVintage 60s 70s Oakbrook Sportswear For Sears Grey Wool Trench Winter Coat XlVintage Pearl Gray Faux Fur Collar Men’s Dramatic Coat Sz 42Vintage 60s Houndstooth Wool Blazer Over Coat Jacket Mens Size 40Vintage Mod Dogtooth Plaid Check Sport Coat /dinner Jacket -paul Revere, TorontoAlexanders Usa Vintage 60s Grey Box Plaid Wool Belted Doublebreasted Spy Coat 44Vintage 1970s Brick Red Leather 3 Button Wide Collar Fight Jacket Coat Mens 42rBogner Jacket Size Xlarge Snow Ski Vintage 80s Pullover Helicopter Half Zip Coat1970s Loud Men's Sz 46 Blazer Suit Coat Jacket Perfect Shape VintageVintage 70’s Og 107 Field Coat Jacket Us Army Military Vietnam Era Size S RegVintage Men's Tuxedo Tail Coat Gray Suit Jacket