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This Season’s Men’s Statement Coat is a Longer, Fuller Boundary Pusher

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It’s mid-November, the afternoons stop short in darkness and the polar vortex, like a seasonal allergy, is coming to town.

Take your consolations where you may. Experts — at least those in the fashion industry — suggest an overcoat.

“It’s obvious to say that every time fall rolls around, it’s coat season,” said Bruce Pask, the men’s fashion director of Bergdorf Goodman (and formerly the men’s fashion director of T: The New York Times Style Magazine). “But I think this fall was an especially rich season for coats.”

The runways fairly groaned with outerwear, the best of which adapted traditional styles in a way that’s more (dare one say) daring than in seasons gone by. There will always be camel coats and black coats, and long may they reign. But the specimens now arriving in stores, while not unfit for any office, are savvier entrants.

If you were placing them on the sartorial map, you’d put the pin down just north of normal. Siri, lead me there!

“This was the season of the statement topcoat,” said Eric Jennings, the vice president for men’s wear at Saks Fifth Avenue, using fashion’s favorite euphemism for “bold,” “wild” or “attention-grabbing.”

But that statement need not be off-putting, voiced by a runway relic marooned in the real world. A coat can say it with subtle stripes or tone-on-tone checks. By being unexpectedly weightless, cut in unlined caviar-grade cashmere, or thick enough to fully reverse, with contrasting patterns on each side.

That coat’s statement: “Greetings from North of Normal. Wish you were here!”

“There were a lot of interesting fabrications and colors, patterns, embellishments, military details, longer lengths, you name it,” Mr. Jennings said. “The guy who just needs a coat for the weather, he usually waits until it gets below 30 degrees. But it’s the statement coats that are selling right now.”

It is true that cold weather sends some men barreling for parkas and down coats — on store racks, the Canada Goose has landed. (Mr. Jennings said that its parkas have been selling since August, after last year’s unexpectedly brutal winter caught many unprepared.) But the tundra-ready parka should supplement — not replace — the tailored topcoat.

A man’s coat, said the designer Dries Van Noten, “is ever the one piece that will define his entire look.”

In the collection books shown to buyers at his showroom, coats are traditionally given pride of place at the front. “They can be instrumental in helping to define the overall silhouette of a collection,” he said.

That silhouette has grown longer and larger: not a sport jacket manqué, but a proper coat to reckon with.

“There’s two things that we’ve noticed this season that we really wanted to celebrate,” said Madeline Weeks, the fashion director of GQ magazine. “One is definitely the longer coat, that has a softer shoulder, a little oversized.” The other is what she called a “grandpa coat,” with a wider silhouette and more volume.

Did Grandpa have Mr. Van Noten’s long wool and alpaca officer’s coat, the one with a quilted panel of cadet-blue polyester buttoning rakishly across the front? A double-sided wool overcoat by Prada so thick and dense it could nearly stand up on its own? Or a boxy snap-front one from Lanvin in a royal shade of burgundy?

Not unless Grandpa retired to sunny North of Normal.

Lucas Ossendrijver, the Lanvin men’s wear designer, called that aubergine coat one of his favorites. “It’s the color we sold best in, in that coat,” he said. “They didn’t even buy it in black. A few years ago, it would have been: ‘Oh, you don’t have the navy? You don’t have the black?’ ”

Many of these coats are investment pieces (to use another cherished fashion euphemism). Yet they are hardy enough and, despite their daring, classic enough to serve for season after season. In the case of Bottega Veneta’s reversible Shetland wool beauty, just turn it inside out: There’s a whole other coat in there.

Even the more affordable players are getting into the spirit. “I think you can find them for any price point, which is so great,” Ms. Weeks said. Retailers like Topman and Club Monaco, she added, “are stepping up their game.” Price doesn’t forestall quality: J. Crew’s double-breasted Ludlow coat is made from Italian wool, A.P.C.’s from venerated Harris tweed.

“Nobody is looking for another black coat, or another beige coat,” said Mr. Ossendrijver, who said they are the part of the collections he designs first. “They’re looking for something they can actually wear, that’s slightly different. That’s slightly off, actually.”

“When you see men, sometimes they wear the same suit,” he said, “but the coat they wear on top says a lot more than the suit they wear under.”

 

View the full slideshow at: http://www.nytimes.com/2014/11/13/fashion/this-seasons-mens-statement-coat-is-a-longer-fuller-boundary-pusher.html?ref=fashion