If you live in a four season city with treacherous Winters, like Toronto, I always recommend a Parka to be your first outerwear piece. An outerwear is a crucial investment, it keeps you warm and it will be the garment that everyone first sees. A Parka, especially one that is well made, will protect you from the elements (snow, rain, wind) and can potentially be worn for many years to come.
One thing though that I dislike about the Parka though is its aesthetic, particularly with tailored wear. A Parka can be worn with virtually anything, but it generally fails to retain the formality when worn with a suit – or alike pieces. I always like to wear my navy Parka with raw denim, a cashmere sweater and a light layer like a cardigan or quilted jacket. I always feel that its the hooded fur that makes the jacket appear the more casual.
Of course, it can be worn with tailored wear. But it just doesn’t seem right… Here at DWNS we are obsessed with the minute details of our clothing and we want to find an outerwear that compliments tailored wear accordingly.
If you already have a Parka and looking for another outerwear investment, I suggest getting a topcoat. A topcoat is a single breasted outerwear, typically encompassing a three-button closure and is long enough to cover your knees, or at least just above it. A topcoat, like the Parka, can also be worn with virtually anything and looks exceptionally well with tailored wear.
Of course, just like everything in life, there’s a trade off – a topcoat is never as warm as a Parka and is susceptible to elements (rain, snow). Wearing a topcoat requires extra under layers and accessorizing, like a scarf or umbrella, to counter its downside.
We can establish that an outerwear investment can be kind of pricey. But, with clothing, you get what you pay for. Of course the most important factor to always consider is your budget. A more expensive topcoat typically compromises of a nicer (read: warm or luxe) fabric, like a tweed or cashmere, and detailing, such as double breasted closure or quilted lining. It’s imperative to seek a topcoat made out of a thicker fabric that can keep you warm and insulated.
This topcoat is from Topman’s Winter Harris Tweed collection a few years ago. Although I am skeptical of it’s construction, the fabric is a nice thick plaid tweed (harris) that provides me with nothing but warmth.
A topcoat provides a cohesive look with tailored wear that is impossible to acquire with a Parka. I believe that everyone is aware of how well a topcoat pairs with a suit, as a camel topcoat with a navy suit seems to be the staple for all #menswear Instagram pages.
Even taking on a partial tailored look, involving only tailored trousers, the topcoat keeps the outfit complete by blending in perfectly with the turtleneck and denim jacket. I wouldn’t recommend a patterned topcoat to be your first (my first was actually a camel), as it’s a little tougher to pair. Also, do not be falsely convinced that you should acquire a loud coloured outerwear by the influencers on Instagram. You will be perfectly fine with a neutral coloured one and will definitely already stand out in a sea of hideous outerwears.
These images exemplify how much I like blending formal and casual pieces together. Bespoke flannel trousers (formal), wingtip boots (formal), turtleneck (casual) and a denim jacket (casual). A topcoat is one of those pieces that is neither formal or casual, rather, it takes form and replicates the formality based on what is worn underneath it. To put it simply, if you are wearing casual pieces, the jacket will appear casual and vice versa.
I like wearing my topcoat unbuttoned. Because it is not a double breasted closure, buttoning it up hardly does much to provide extra warmth. Having it unbuttoned also exudes a air of nonchalance or a relaxed temperament. But choosing to have it button or unbutton is nothing more than a preferred personal choice.
So, if you are in the market for a new outerwear piece and already possess a parka, go for a topcoat. Keep in mind to invest in one made from a thicker fabric, a sturdy construction and in a neutral colour (navy, brown or grey).