Fashion Tips: Popular Vintage Coats For Men

This article covers some of the more popular styles of vintage men's coats, where to find them and how to care for them. The types discussed are trenchcoats, leather coats, fur coats, and military coats.

Both functional and evocative of times past, "retro" or "vintage" clothing has become increasingly popular in the past decade.Vintage clothing includes those wearable items made decades ago, usually before 1970.Clearly, the most durable and least-used items are the ones that are most likely to have survived; for example, men's coats, the focus of this article.

Men's coats have never been as stylistically variable as women's, and are often made of a more limited variety of materials; i.e., those considered more rugged or "manly."Thus, men's vintage coats are usually made of leather, wool, and fur.A wide variety of such coats can still be found, often for prices that are far less than you might expect to pay for a good new coat. Why buy a new London Fog trench coat for $250 when you can buy an older model that's comfortably broken in and stylishly retro for half that?For this reason, and because vintage coats are generally very warm and don't need to be broken in, they present a good value for the coat shopper.

One of the most popular vintage coats is the trench-style overcoat.These long coats were designed to go over a gentleman's outer clothing and protect it from the elements, as well as to keep the wearer warm. Although they've long been in use across most of the world, the best old trench coats are generally the ones manufactured in and for the chilly climes of Europe and Scandinavia.They can come in single- and double-breasted varieties, and usually include a belt. A variety of cuts and colors are available, and the older coats are often made of wool (so be sure to arm yourself with mothballs or cedar in order to avoid moth holes).

Leather coats are also nice and toasty, and if they're properly cared for, can last for a long time.They vary from full leather to softer suede types, including shearling coats, which are made from the skins of lambs shorn only once.Styles vary from bomber jackets to thigh-length "pimp" coats.(The long coat with a furred color that Vin Diesel wore in the movie XXX is an example of a "pimp" coat; they're usually made of suede, with a mink collar.) Since leather is easy to dye, these coats can come in a variety of colors.Many leather coats are left a rich, natural brown or caramel color, though the many-zipped motorcycle jacket, one of the most popular styles of men's leather coat, generally comes in black.Leather is a particular suitable material for motorcycle riders, since it's durable and protects the wearer from "road rash" in the event of an accident.

Although furs require special care to last for more than a generation or so, you can still find many acceptable fur coats out there. The 1940s was a particularly good decade for classy fur coats; indeed, this decade is the most popular vintage for good winter coats period, though fur coats were especially popular.Persian Lambs, which are composed of a tightly curled, silky black wool, are to be found in many vintage clothing stores for $100 or less.Some have well-padded wide shoulders and a tight waist, relics of the '30s and '40s swing era, but you can find plenty with a straighter, more generous cut.A similar coat is the Russian Broadtail, which tends to be quite a bit more expensive.The fur is softer than that in a Persian lamb, with a flatter, swirled texture.Mouton coats are made from a very dense fur, usually of a chestnut color, that can easily be mistaken for faux fur.Of course, you can still find the occasional raccoon skin coat of the type once popular on college campuses from the 1920s on, but good examples are becoming rare, so they're highly expensive and sought after.

Finally, vintage military coats and jackets are fun. They're also easy to find at any decent military surplus store.The colors aren't too wild -- they vary from khaki to olive drab to black -- but if you're looking for an inexpensive, warm coat, these are hard to beat.Army jackets and overcoats are particularly common, and being military, they come with all sorts of extra pockets, attachments, buttons, buckles, and doodads.Navy pea coats are less common, but are especially warm; these black waist-length jackets are usually made of a dense wool.These days, you don't even have to make do with US military surplus; old military clothing from all over the world, from Soviet Russian to Sweden, can be acquired easily enough.

This article covers just a few of the vintage styles out there: the '50s and '60s saw an explosion of different styles and fabrics, most of which can still be found if you look hard enough. And when you're ready to start hunting for that great vintage coat, don't forget the Internet. While it's great fun to haunt the bargain shops and vintage clothing stores, the Internet has made it easy to find what you're looking with a few key words, and you can easily compare prices.When it's time to buy, all it takes is a click or two, and your "new" vintage coat is on its way!

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