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 Duffle bags were originally made from the same material.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.

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