A snapshot of how men dress in winter, as played out in London’s Victoria station above which the Telegraph is perched, and no doubt in many train stations across the UK. One fellow in an padded, quilted affair that could see him through several months in the Alaskan tundra, suddenly sweating and uncomfortable on the busy tube. And another in a warm-but cropped-jacket, shivering in the arctic gales that whistles along platforms.
As streetwear and athleisurewear become more prominent in men’s wardrobes, the former variety - the swamping, heavy-duty, padded variety - has become a go-to, but it’s not wildly practical on the daily commute unless you happen to be driven by huskies. And while the classic overcoat in safe shades of navy, grey or black will always see a man through winter well, it’s also worth considering lesser explored variants.
Albert coat, £795, Joseph
The notion of “heritage” can seem painfully twee and countrified, but in the depths of winter fabrics such as tweed, houndstooth and plaids can come into their own, without looking overly Monarch of the Glen.
French menswear brand Ami - a favourite thanks to its mid-to-high-end appeal - has applied checks to coats in clean, minimalist silhouettes while Mr Porter’s own brand Mr. P has applied nubbly boucle - usually a thing of women’s jackets and hardy outerwear - to a sleek city-ready coat. Similarly, checks in blown-up proportions can add a contemporary slant to traditional dress.
Another alternative to the standard overcoat is the soft structure variety, a happy medium between a substantial affair and something more easy and dynamic. Italian house Corneliani are masters of this particular genre; coats with a sloping shoulder and raglan sleeves, belted at the middle robe-like in lieu of buttons; see an Armani-clad Richard Gere in American Gigolo.
The shape is fluid but it also works particularly well for corporate types thanks to its loose structure, which fits a suit jacket underneath when so many other coat varieties tend to crumple it in ungainly fashion.
Loveless belted coat, £660, Farfetch
And if your fallback stance is something more conservative, instead of standard black or navy, a sleek camel coat is a way to elevate your winter coat without frightening the sartorial horses. It’s been a staple in the British wardrobe since Jaeger lays claim to having invented it during WW1, using camel hair in response to shortages of wool.
And current iterations don’t have to look quite as Magic Circle as they tend to; it acts as a happy balance to sporty knitwear track tops for example, or with a light T-shirt in transient weather. The winter coat should always be sturdy and reliable, but that doesn’t mean it has to be a safe affair.