Canadian winters are harsh. Period. I realize it is only August, but fall is just around the corner and with that comes the beginning of cold weather. Most of us have a basket or drawer filled with winter outerwear. Columbia jackets, toques, mis-matched gloves - both leather and waterproof, headbands, earmuffs, scarves, long johns - on and on it goes. The only thing these items don't have in common is respect. They may be great for GT-ing or figure skating, but at an office job they will make you look like an amateur.

Enter the outercoat. It is the only acceptable outerwear to be worn with a suit. Gaining popularity in the 17th century, the outercoat was and still is a sign of social status. An outercoat demands respect and ensures you make a good impression. There are a lot of terms thrown around when discussing dress jackets, two used intermittently are overcoats and topcoats. Let me set the record straight.

An overcoat is the heavier style of outercoat commonly worn over suits. It is usually long (past the knees) with sleeves that cover both suit sleeves and shirt cuffs alike. No one likes a cold wrist. A high quality overcoat is made off 100% wool and should weigh over 4lbs (on average sized men). The most common style of overcoat is a double breasted peak lapel as it has a formal look and that extra layer of fabric to keep you warm.

topcoat is a lighter version of the overcoat. They are more suited for spring and fall, as they come up above the knee. Quality topcoats should still be 100% wool, just not as heavy weight. Shaw & Co. carries a full line of custom tailored wool topcoats. Oddly enough, most men don't consider getting a topcoat custom made, even though a custom-tailored topcoat would by far have the best fit, and provide the client with exactly what they want. Considering a classic topcoat would last 20+ years, having a custom piece it is definitely something to consider. 

An outercoat, whether a heavy overcoat or a lighter topcoat, is a must have for any businessman. It is a smart investment for both young and old alike, guaranteed to be worn thousands of times. Just remember, a man in a topcoat (or overcoat) is taken more seriously and gives a better impression than a man in a ski jacket and balaclava.

Andy Huynh
Andy Huynh