Permanent Style's Simon Crompton ponders the simple pleasures of a good piece of outerwear, while trying out our new cotton twill raincoat.
Coats are such fun. Their grand expression, sweeping lines and dramatic shape. They might be the only time, in fact, that classic menswear gets a full-size canvas for its very particular design philosophy: fashion through function.
If the coat is long, to protect the legs, how do you allow the wearer to walk unencumbered? A flared skirt? Pleats, vents? How do you fasten those vents in particularly inclement weather?
The wearer will rarely need to fasten the coat up to the neck. But he needs to be able to do so: not enabling it would be to sacrifice functionality. So there must be a throat latch that is usable without the wearer looking in a mirror, and indeed usable with shivering hands and wind whipping about his neck.
The design of such a throat latch - instinctive to use and stored easily when not - has defined the look of many a raincoat. Think of that long, tapering strip running around the collar of a trench coat. It is the design of the collar, in effect. On some coats, it is their most striking and distinctive aspect.