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How to Wear a Top Coat (Men’s Style Guide)

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A top coat is a menswear essential that has been around for hundreds of years. You can style top coats and overcoats with suits, blazers and even pair them with certain jeans. So here is a guide on how to wear a top coat.

But first, let’s get into the difference between the …

Overcoat vs Topcoat

An overcoat is made from a heavier fabric and is longer than a topcoat. A traditional overcoat is made to be worn over a suit and its length goes past the knees while a topcoat is shorter in length and ends at the knee or above it.

These days however, the terms topcoats and overcoats are used interchangeably. So when shopping around, ignore the difference between these terms and think of them as the same.

Best Colors for Topcoats

The best colors for a topcoat are black, navy, dark gray (charcoal) and beige (camel). These colors are classic and investing in any topcoat in these colors is a good idea because it will be in style for many years to come. If you wear suits a lot then go for a black, navy or dark gray topcoat because these colors go well with formal suit colors and pair seamlessly.

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However, if your style leans more on the business casual to casual side then try out a beige (camel) color topcoat because it will help you stand out yet still look well dressed and classic. Beige topcoats pair really well with jeans and chinos for when you want to dress down the whole look.

How to Wear an Overcoat/Topcoat with Jeans

You can wear a topcoat or overcoat with dark wash or black jeans paired with a collared shirt or crew neck sweater. The key to making the whole outfit work is going for more dressy pieces to pair with the topcoat.

top coat with white dress shirt, black tie blue jeans and black boots , How to Wear a Top Coat (Men's Style Guide)
This is a great business casual outfit.

A dress shirt or button down collar shirt paired with a necktie is also a good idea.

skin top coat
The formality of the overcoat clashes with the casual nature of the t-shirt.

Avoid wearing t-shirts because they are too casual and clash with the formality of the topcoat.

How to Wear a Top coat Casually

Wearing a topcoat casually is really about understanding the boundaries of formal and casual style. For example, you can wear a topcoat with jeans, but they have to be dark wash or black jeans because these look more formal. Wearing a topcoat with light wash distressed jeans is just not going to look good.

top coat styled with white dress shirt black jeans and white sneakers. top coat style , how to style top coat

So when wearing a topcoat casually, try to wear more formal casual pieces so that they combine well with the formality of the topcoat.

  • Wear a collared shirt instead of a t-shirt. It doesn’t have to be a dress shirt, you can also try an oxford button down.
  • Wear dressier pants like chinos, khakis and dark jeans.
  • Pair the look with lace up boots, chukkas or chelsea boots. You can also wear sneakers but make sure they are a minimalist style in white, navy, black or gray and made from a premium material like suede or leather.

How to Wear an Overcoat with a Suit

An overcoat looks fantastic paired over top a suit. Think of the overcoat as your formal winter jacket and wear it over top your suits when the weather gets cold.

top coat with grey suit and black dress shoes , top coat style

The key to looking sharp is making sure the top coat is well fitted and not too loose. You should have enough room to wear a suit comfortably underneath but not much more.

baggy top coat
Really baggy fit topcoat which is fine for street style, but not for anything else!

You don’t want to look like you are wearing an oversized topcoat. Trust me, not a good look.

Single vs Double Breasted Overcoats/Top coats

Single breasted topcoats typically have a 3 button closure whereas double breasted overcoats usually have a 6 or 8 button closure with overlapping fabric.

Most top coats these days are single breasted because they are more modern and easier to wear with a suit as well as casual outfits.

navy top coat, top coat style

Double breasted overcoats are more classic and warmer and should only be worn with formal and business casual attire.

double breasted overcoat , grey top coat with black stripes, How to Wear a Top Coat (Men's Style Guide)

You might be wondering; what is the difference between a double breasted overcoat and a peacoat?

The difference is actually fairly straightforward. A peacoat has the same button closure as a double breasted overcoat but the length is shorter, typically ending around the hips. Whereas a double breasted topcoat or overcoat is much longer and usually ends at the knees or even goes past them.

olive peacoat

To clarify, let’s check out James Bond. Here, Bond is wearing a peacoat which is clearly shorter in length and ends around his hips. Moreover, he is wearing the peacoat with dress pants and a dress shirt paired with a tie (business casual).

James bond pea coat
The famous Bond peacoat

For this look, Bond is wearing a double breasted overcoat which is basically just a longer format of the peacoat. Since this is a more formal jacket, he is wearing a suit underneath.

James bond in top coat , how to style top coat
A double breasted overcoat with a full suit underneath

A peacoat is also not as formal as a topcoat or overcoat which means that a peacoat should not be worn over a suit because the length is too short. However, for business casual, a peacoat works great!

Conclusion

I hope you find this guide on how to wear a top coat helpful. I tried to cover some outfit ideas, color recommendations as well as talk about some differences between overcoats and top coats.

Interested in business casual attire for men? Check out

Business Casual (Easy Guide)