The One Coat Wardrobe

As I mentioned in a recent post, a long period of travel has forced me to choose which small percentage of my wardrobe I want to squeeze into a single suitcase. The most difficult choice of all is which overcoat to take, because there can be only one. A second would take up half of my suitcase. So I am limited to the one that I’ll wear on the plane.

While a shoe wardrobe must toggle between casual and formal, an overcoat must also be prepared for different kinds of weather, from the freezing to the merely chilly, from sunny to rainy.

The coat I chose to bring is a black Stephan Schneider Memory coat with a detachable hood, similar to this year’s Conversion coat. With the hood, it looks great with jeans and sneakers or whatever other streetwear outfit I care to put together. The hood also protects me from a reasonable amount of rain. If I am wearing a coat and tie, I can remove the hood and my Memory will serve me well as a substitute for a topcoat.

Another option with even more versatility is the Norwegian Rain single-breasted raincoat. In addition to a having, like the Conversion, a detachable hood, the NR also has a removable lining, meaning that you don’t have to layer sweater after sweater to be warm in sub-freezing temperatures. The fabric is also fully waterproof and the coat is made with sealed seams, providing complete protection against the rain. Finally, though most raincoats would look like a fish out of water on a sunny day, Norwegian Rain fabrics are made to look like the fabrics of traditional tailored menswear. So this coat, too, can do fine service as a topcoat substitute with a suit and tie.

Of course, either option entails certain sacrifices. I will miss my polo coat while I am away - a single-breasted coat can’t match the sweeping majesty of a calf-length double-breasted. I will be glad to get back to my suede Valstarino A-1 jacket next fall - it’s more casual and easy than my Memory coat, and easier to hang on the peg in front of a bar stool. But for a few months, my Memory will never be too far from wrong, and that’s all right with me.

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