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The City Coat

Jack Bettridge
From the Print Edition:
Greg Raymer, Sept/Oct 2004

Call it the city coat, urban coat, barn coat, weekend coat or plain old car coat, the coolest item this fall fashion season is a garment that can't be pigeonholed by any one of those descriptions: a three-quarter-length jacket that blends functionality with elegant fabric and insouciant style.

Fall is a season when the weather seems to turn on a dime and so do the sartorial requirements of our social agenda. It's no longer summer with its beat-the-heat, dress-down ethic, and yet winter's bundled-up decorum has not yet taken hold. On a typical autumnal day the thermometer may take you from frosty to brisk to Indian summer and back again. And that's without mentioning sudden squalls. Activities are just as varied. Moving from a tony brunch to a round of shopping to a tailgate party where you're asked to toss a football to some light leaf raking is not unusual. A man needs a coat that's right for all those activities and can be paired with a range of accessories that dress it up or down as is appropriate to the moment.

Versatility is the attendant charm of this coat. It looks as comfortable with slacks, button-down shirt and tie as it does with jeans and a rugby, as well as a number of choices in between. As the car coat description would convey, it is designed not to cramp your style as you move. Barn coat says it will take a little punishment. Weekend would seem to bespeak a temporal restraint, but we think these sharp wraps will be turning up in the office. The city or urban moniker might have been more aptly put as urbane, because while the garment may be thought of as a descendant of the duffel, or convoy, coat, it's lost the doofus hood and toggle buttons that damned it as Ivy League and is now cut from darn-sight-finer cloths than the coarse fabric that the duffel name would suggest (some come as cashmere blends).

The feature that will put this coat into the realm of the all-time-great is a water-resistant liner on a reversible interior as these coats from Normandy & Monroe (pictured, $895) and Ermenegildo Zegna ($1,250) are sporting. Take it off, turn it inside out and prove that there is little that Mother Nature can throw at you that you can't handle.

Visit www.zegna.com or www.normandyandmonroe.com.

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