If you are going off to Europe for the break, maybe an overcoat is in the offing. My choice is a classic redefined—the Ulster. The only thing better than the Ulster itself is having it made earlier in the year with Orazio Luciano, perhaps in a Holland and Sherry tweed, with perhaps a dash of color. If you aren’t of a particularly difficult size, however, anything ready to wear from this fine tailor will more than do.
Overcoats come in myriad styles—whether it’s a short tweed Chesterfield, a navy-inspired Peacoat, a classic Trench, a short and fitted Paletot, or a Gatsby-ish camel polo coat.
To add to that fine list, we have the Ulster.
Differentiating it from all other coats, the Ulster is generally made from heavy tweed—preferably Donegal. Past versions had a capelet shrouding the torso and backside just above the waist. This style was popularized by savvy sleuth Sherlock Holmes. During the Victorian era, the Ulster was popularized as the workingman’s coat, hence Conan Doyle’s choice of coat for his hero.
What do you look for in an Ulster?
A long, and roomy double-breasted silhouette (it is much like the camel coat in style, though not in color) with notched lapels, a pocket for a pochette, and very firm shoulders. Its thick fabric also makes it a savior in cold weather. As a nod to its workingman’s roots, the coat has a lot of pockets, and is embellished with cuffs and stitching. It was also belted in the back for layering.
A coat like this is perfect for those elegant snow-filled trips as it doubles up as a blanket on the train; if the Air BNB heater decides to give way, it can also be used as a comforter. Utilitarian considerations aside, you’ll look pretty damn good in it, and that’s reason enough to get one.
As I was going over my feed, overcoats turned up for the winter like truffles in southeastern France. I have been seeing a lot of print dredged up from the past and resurrected for a second life in fashion—a lot of herringbone and Prince of Wales. Bolder patterns from Saville Row savants boast fresh and younger looks to the classic tailoring. I have never really liked a boring blue or black coat, preferring the camel polo coat as a refreshing counterpoint to a white Christmas view. But the Ulster, believe me, is one of the most versatile outer layers there is. Worn right, even with jeans, it will get you inside the bar at Plaza Athenee for a 30-Euro Negroni, and will catch the attention of the snooty bartender over a furry North Face jacket .
Draping it on your person will get you and your PJs to the boulangerie (scarf needed) across the street from your rental with such panache that no one will know you aren’t wearing your skivvies. So give the Ulster a chance. There are many makers, but if you have the time and enough zeroes in your bank account, spend for it. You’d spring for a 3,000-Euro overcoat anyway, so why not have it tailor-made?