Tuesday, February 13, 2007

It is snowing, so you need the British Warm...

British Officers Warm Greatcoat

The original British warm takes its fabric and styling from the greatcoats worn by officers during the First World War. Intended to go over khaki tunic and jodhpurs and be accompanied by high field boots and an officer's cap, the coat was standard-issue British army. There is a rather moving photo of the princes of Wales and York lamentedly contemplating the battle scene at Zeebrugge in 1918, both wearing their regulation British warms (York's was belted, a style that led to the "wrap coats" of civilian fashion that followed). These officers coats were slightly shaped and fell to just above the knee, always double-breasted in style, with six buttons (three of which are buttoned), with peaked lapels and epaulets on the shoulders.

The most characteristic aspect of the British warm is the fabric itself: a heavy, taupe-colored, slightly fleecy melton cloth. The name comes from Melton Mowbray, a town in Leicestershire, England, where this thick, tightly woven, napped cloth was first woven for riding and hunting garments. "The authentic melton cloth weighs in at 34 ounces," the custom tailor Leonard Logsdail informs us, "and perhaps a bit of body-building boot camp is necessary to wear it."

The redoubtable British warm saw duty in the Second World War and is still worn by officers in the British army, with metal regimental buttons. The civilian-adapted model takes woven leather buttons, may dispense with the epaulets and may be worn slightly longer. Wrap coats--the double-breasted versions with a belt--partake of elements from both the British warm and the polo coat.