With time running out before leaving for Europe, I was back in to see Bijan a week after the first fitting.
The first fitting was, typically for Bijan, very accurate, so this fitting was to see how the changes from the last fitting had turned out and to further refine some of the unique details of the coat.
Changes: At the end of first fitting we decided to take the side seams in by 1 centimetre each, as well as taking another centimetre out of the back. Where overcoats are traditionally cut with much more room to accommodate a suit jacket underneath, this coat is designed to fit more like a jacket with only a shirt and knitwear being worn underneath. It’s a much cleaner and more elegant look, doing away with all of the added visual bulk that would otherwise exist in a fuller cut.
Additionally, we lengthened the coat by 1.5 inches, letting it fall just above the knee. As with the changes above, traditionally, more length wouldn’t have been out of place, given the cold weather the coat will have to stand up to, but it would make the coat appear much heavier. I’ve never had cold legs in the past when wearing winter weight trousers and I don’t expect it will start now. So another small trade off was made to strike a balance between aesthetics and practicality.
Trials: The design of the coat strays somewhat from tradition and the “rules” (read: guidelines) of classic menswear. Typically, a double breasted coat has peak lapels, with notch lapels being reserved for single breasted coats. We’ve strayed from the norm in this instance for the purposes of practicality. One of the major benefits of having a bespoke overcoat made (or any bespoke clothing made) that you have the flexibility to design something for exactly how you plan to use it. The collar on this coat will spend most of its life “up”, bracing against the cold of winter. With a peak lapel, the edges of the peaks, when raised, tend to flop to the side and be blown about by the wind. Other than this driving me crazy, it would also mean that the cold would be able to get in more easily around the neck area. To address this, we’ve designed somewhat of a hybrid lapel, more closely resembling a large notch lapel than anything else. The design works well both visually and practically, wrapping around my face, sitting snugly against a scarf.
The rear pleated vent proved problematic, requiring a significant change from the first fitting. I was inspired by the design I’d seen on another coat some time ago, which is accurately reflected in the images of the rear vent in the first article. The problem was that the way the vent had been designed in the coat I’d seen, it wasn’t able to be closed without the coat becoming restrictive at the legs when walking. Ideally, it would be buttoned closed, with the pleat then expanding with each stride, however, this didn’t prove to be the case, so the decision was made to change it to a more standard vent, with buttons being used for closure if and when required.
Buttons: Though small, buttons have a significant impact on the look of a finished coat or suit jacket. It’s often the case that the right buttons simply compliment a coat and end up going largely unnoticed, but the wrong ones can ruin the entire look of a coat. Similar to wheels on a car, really, enhancing or detracting from the finished product. On a coat like this there are so many options for buttons – The main choices would typically be horn, gold or even silver. As with any of these decisions, it’s about understanding your own style and choosing accordingly. Gold or silver would stand out too much, for me, but on someone else with the right personality to pull it off, they could look great.
We ended up choosing very dark natural horn buttons (technically brown, but almost black). As I want to wear the coat with both black and brown shoes, the buttons needed to be this dark. Brown would work with brown shoes, but not as well with black shoes, but black buttons will work with both colours of shoe. Navy would have also worked very well, but there weren’t any in quite the right size which could arrive in time.
For the next fitting, the sleeves will be added and the rear belt cut and pinned on. Once we’re happy with those details, it will just be a case of adding the finishing details (buttons, buttonholes etc) before I can pick it up before Christmas, to head away on the 27th.