Whether strolling through the country or rushing around town, the raglan sleeve overcoat is an oversized, unstructured marvel.
This article was originally published in November 2017, under the title "The Balmacaan Coat."
I hadn’t seen a nice balmacaan overcoat for a while. Actually, overcoats had fallen out of style with the hyper-casualization of the wardrobe in favour of shorter parkas and field-type coats. But with the resurgence of interest in tailored clothing, they’re being seen again. And a good thing too. First there was the martingale model, making its presence known a few seasons ago, with its structured square shoulders, body tracing, and half-belted back with multi-buttoned vent. A very dressy city coat.
But what about the more casual and comfortable balmacaan, I wondered? And then Drake’s showed me their new interpretation. It’s got a slightly narrower body and shorter length than the older version for a more contemporary silhouette, but without losing any of its comfort and panache.
The name is derived from the Scottish estate near Inverness where it is said to have been first seen in the 19th century, most likely designed by refashioning the ancient plaid wrapped garments worn by Highlanders for centuries. The traditional coat was made for comfort and warmth in the mists and damp of a Scottish winter. More like a blanket with sleeves.
Basically, the balmacaan is an unstructured overcoat usually made up in hearty tweeds and practical design details. A serviceable collar that can be turned up against the elements, and fly-front closure to prevent the horn buttons from snagging on branches and brambles; buttoned sleeve straps to keep out wind and rain; a split raglan two-piece shoulder (rather than a set-in shoulder) for ease of movement. An eminently practical coat to wear over tailoring or chunky knitwear.