Monday, March 7, 2011

Toggled Savoir Faire

I am a traditionalist of sorts. Give me a classic piece of clothing that never dates any day! This is especially true when it comes to outerwear. These are investment pieces that are meant to last, and never go out of style. The Duffle coat is one of these. Usually where the classics are concerned I am a purist and do not like designers or manufacturers to mess too much with the original design. However lately I have been seeing some modern interpretations of this British classic which I am particularly warming to. With the number of designers that are featuring them in their collections I am glad to see that it is here to stay in one form or another.

A duffle coat, or duffel coat, is a coat made from duffle, a coarse, thick, woolen material. The name derives from Duffel, a town in the province of Antwerp in Belgium where the material originates. Duffle bags were originally made from the same material. They have several distinct features that set them apart and are usually characterised as being a hooded coat with distinctive toggle fastenings.

The duffle coat owes its popularity to the British Royal Navy, who issued a camel-coloured variant of it as an item of warm clothing during World War I. The design of the coat was modified slightly and widely issued during World War II. Field Marshal Montgomery was a famous wearer of the coat, as a means of identifying himself with his troops, leading to another nickname, the "Monty coat". Large stocks of post-war military surplus coats available at reasonable prices to the general public meant that these coats became a ubiquitous and popular item of clothing in the 1950s and 1960s. The British firm Gloverall purchased surplus military supplies of the coats after World War II and have continued to still make the Monty ever since and in 1954 started producing their own version of the Duffle coat.

Every Duffle coat you see today in the classic style is a copy of the original made by Gloverall. Now being redesigned with a more fitted silhouette it is a perfect style to adopt if you want something with classic appeal but with a modern edge. New lines, lengths, proportions and hardware are seeing a resurgence of the coat with the fashionably hip.

Colours are no longer restricted to the dark and dreary, and we are seeing bright primary colours with other bold shades, to ensure that one is in no mood to let the winter grays get you down. Rich Tweeds and careful tailoring ensure that you are not wearing the equivalent of a box.

Wooden toggle-fastenings were made to be easily fastened and unfastened while wearing gloves in cold weather at sea. Toggles are now coming in variations of shapes, sizes, designs and materials, to give the coat a more modern updated look.

I know that winter is almost over for some of us and just starting for some so if you still have time embrace this quintessential winter solution.


  1. I'm a fan of traditional ,clean-cut, looks myself. I have always loved the toggle coat...I don't have one...does a toggle vest count? D...have a fabulous holiday....takes loads of pictures ...then get home safely so that you can share!...k

  2. ===============================================
    Super David !

    Like you know , i would like like like to see pixs of you wearing your fav garments !
    Do it ! ^^

    I was especially touched by the luggages' post !
    Have a magical new week !

    Kiss_kiss !

  3. The examples you show are fantastic and I love the toggles...but for a pillow or something. I'm not a fan of this style coat. It's too busy and I imagine have to button toggles everyday would be a royal pain!

  4. When I was a teenager I had a couple different Gloverall duffle coats; I had a tan cord one and a loden wool one. They weren't a cult item then, and were affordable for high school students. I don't know what happened that suddenly they came to $900.00 at Stollery's. What's with that?

    I found a beautiful navy one, made in the U.K. at a Celtic shop in Niagara-on-the-Lake for under $500.00. Like the navy blazer, the penny loafer, button down oxford cloth shirt, and the aviator jacket, this classic always looks great, and is appropriate for any age. I'd rather wear this than a silly, expensive, off the wall designer creation.

    I don't think it should be too fitted or it doesn't look authentic; duffle coats are about ease and lack of restricting fit...should be ever so slightly sloppy/casual, no? I prefer the designs that have leather tabs or narrow straps to secure the horn toggles, the rope/jute ones look to rustic. A dark charcoal or navy duffle coat is perfect over a suit or sport coat in these more casual times. But they look just as good over jeans. One of those wonderful, versatile, indispensable garments that can serve a multitude of purposes.

  5. such classics~ I love them with the genuine buffalo horns!
    ps: so charmed by Apollo story David, how cute is that!!


  6. In my books, real investment pieces should always be traditional and classic pieces!! I love (to bits!!) the inspiration you have shown here :)
    Nancy xo

  7. oh yes
    awesome pieces
    and timeless....

  8. How fun to read about the history behind the use of toggles...makes sense! I used to have a hooded camel toggle coat, you are making me miss it desperately! These are all so very chic!

  9. David, I have never new the proper name for this coat, not to mention all the history behind it. My husband owns three of this coats in different colors and he looks so great in them! Thank you for the wonderful post and for my new discovery of today!:-)

  10. Wow really nice image i think you costume is looking too good.

  11. Wow Beautiful your fashion and wondering dresses . really nice look and perfect matching . i like your costume

  12. love them with the genuine buffalo horns!
    ps: so charmed by Apollo story David, how cute is that!!

  13. I have never new the proper name for this coat, not to mention all the history behind it. My husband owns three of this coats in different colors and he looks so great in them!

  14. where can i buy these? they look amazing


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