By Andrew Yamato
There’s something about a belted coat. I’m not talking about the more commonly seen half-belts (although we like them too), but the full wrap-around variety, long enough to tie, ideally without a buckle so it’s necessary to tie. A belt can transform an otherwise respectable coat into something ever-so-slightly less respectable but infinitely more interesting. Silver screen stars understood this, embracing belted wrap coats to such an extent that when Gene Kelly’s Don Lockwood wears a brilliant white specimen to his movie premiere in Singing in the Rain (1952), it’s as cliched as his canned speech about how he got to the top (“Dignity ... dignity ... always dignity”). Even his sidekick Cosmo wears one, in navy.
Like double-breasted chalkstripe suits and spectator shoes, the Hollywood Coat was fated to became popular with gangsters, which heightened its louche appeal but numbered its days in the fashion limelight. The robelike look and feel of the wrap coat has had periodic revivals whenever the culture has taken a turn for the sensuous and decadent — many queued up outside Studio 54 — but by and large they’re now mainly worn by insouciant individuals confident enough in their own style not to need fashion’s sanction.
The earliest belted wrap coats were the plush camelhair mantels that polo players swaddled themselves in between chukkas (seven minute rounds of play). Double-breasted buttons and envelope patch pockets appeared later as the polo coat was codified into a dressier sartorial icon, but the belt was usually reduced to a vestigial strap across the back. The Alan Flusser Custom Hollywood Coat restores the full belt to its rightful place on the classic polo coat, giving an already glamorous garment a dash of extra panache. For maximum insulation, you can have one made up in our exclusive 100% camelhair — a fiber renowned for its relatively light weight, elegant natural color, and luxuriously soft hand. For a lighter-weight town topcoat with a liquid drape, we recommend our 13oz wool twill in dove grey, which shrugs off a shower and shows off hand pick-stitching to great effect. Whether worn with black tie or with jeans, either coat is worth being noticed for.