In Search of the Double Breasted Overcoat
If I had a single weakness for any category of clothing, it would definitely be outerwear, which is why my soul slowly shrivels and dies during the hot summer months. I've had buying a nice Ulster-style overcoat on my radar for a while now, but haven't been able to find the overcoat thus far that matches an admittedly ambitious set of criteria - I'm looking for a plain colored (or subtle patterned) charcoal or mid-tone grey, full length double-breasted wool coat with a specific broad notch lapel, half-belt back/Martingale belt, buttoned vent, and turn back cuffs. Also, and perhaps most importantly, less than <$800 ideally.
If you have a slightly different set of checkboxes, there are some really great options out there if you are on the hunt. Keep in mind these are going to be on the pricier side of things, but outerwear is one of those items that deserves an investment. Cheaper options are available, but they tend to have to make significant concessions in order to keep costs down - less details, more synthetics, etc.
Suitsupply Merano - $699 and up
I've been a fan of Suitsupply for a long time - for materials, construction, and cut, no one consistently knocks it out of the park at their pricing level. Their Merano line of DB coats, debuted a couple of years ago, has the right general cut (though I wish it were a touch longer) and all the right details, combined with some real quality textiles. They just don't have the fabric this season I'm looking for, though I have to admit the subtle glen check navy coat almost broke me. The cream wool alpaca mohair blend also catches the eye, but it looks like it has quite a different texture than the softer-looking wool cashmere coat from a past season if you don't look closely.
I wear a 36R in most suiting and a 38R fits me well in the Merano wearing just a normal shirt underneath, so I'd be a little wary about the sizing, especially if you're planning on wearing a suit jacket or heavy sweater underneath. Their site pictures are generally very good, though their Jort model always looks like he's lost or just farted. Luckily, they have free shipping and free returns, so there's not much risk on your end. They've added a few more coats as the season went on, but there's no timetable on if/when that happens.
Eidos Napoli Ulster - $900's on sale
Since Antonio Ciongoli took over the creative helm at Isaia's sister brand in 2013, Eidos Napoli has become one of the most exciting menswear companies on the market - bold but classic Italian-made menswear, with the type of casual tailored elegance many companies try to emulate but is hard to fake. Eidos sits a notch or two above Suitsupply in most materials and construction (with a likewise increase in cost), and all of their suits are fully canvassed. Every season they also bring a full battery of gorgeous textiles to their lineup. To be honest, there aren't many labels that I'd rather own, regardless of the pricing level. The other day, Ian Anderson of From Squalor To Baller posted some shots of his gorgeous single-breasted Eidos overcoat in a beautiful Donegal wool from Molloy and Sons, and I immediately had to go take a cold shower. It's fine. I was dirty anyway.
So it's no surprise Eidos offers a dead-on, full-length DB overcoat with all the right details in a 21 oz plain charcoal Casentino wool and soft grey herringbone tweed, among other equally lust-worthy variants. The catch - MSRP $1295, though the line was recently on sale at No Man Walks Alone during Black Friday/Cyber Monday for high $900's final sale - not a small risk considering the amount of money involved. Nevertheless, Eidos is at the top of the heap, and on rare deep sale is hard to best.
No Man Walks Alone Eidos Napoli Outerwear
More Expensive OptionsCrombie (~$1350) - This British heritage brand, founded 1805, has been making iconic coats so long that other companies have started calling their own overcoats "Crombie." The RAF and Army great coats are beautiful, but at 895 GBP and buying from the UK, they are definitely a reach for most. Apparently Yoox sometimes carries Crombie, so something to look out for if you're wading your way through their online haystack.
Cheaper OptionsI haven't been able to find a lot out there, to be honest, though I'm totally open to the idea if they exist. Finding a Martingale belt or turn-back cuffs, etc. on a coat tends to elevate it to a certain price point, as does locating one with a considerable length or weight to it that doesn't have a high synthetic component.
Club Monaco ($550 - goes on sale often) - This 100% wool, Bemberg-lined overcoat is probably the closest of the "budget" bunch, though something seems a little...off about it. It may be just the cardboard-like strange fit pics, the look of the fabric, or the awkward-looking young ginger they found to model it. The half belt in back also doesn't seem to be doing any waist suppression at all. With Club Monaco's frequent sales, it could serve as a decent wallet-friendly option, though I'm not particularly sold on the product pictures.
Vintage Great Coats - These do exist, and I've seen some at vintage menswear stores and army surplus in various states of preservation. If you can find one that fits you in decent working order, it has the potential to be the greatest yield for the money out there.
Grailed/Yoox/Etc. - These sites are a good way to find higher priced items at a price that normally wouldn't be accessible. Each site is a little bit different, but you can keep your profile information saved to help focus your searches. There's a DB peak lapel vintage 100% black cashmere overcoat in 38 (measurements look like a large 38) on Grailed currently for high $300's at the moment I keep trying to convince myself may fit me.
If you do own any of the above, let me know how they're working out for you. Otherwise, further suggestions are always welcome. This little project, like all things worthwhile, has already lasted more than one A/W season and may have to wait another. It is a little bit of a pain in the ass not being able to find exactly what you're looking for for the price you want it, but as time goes on I've started to realize more and more that I usually regret when I settle for a placeholder or something that I don't love.