The Classic Mac

October 27, 2014

The Classic Mac

The king of classic raincoats is the double-breasted trench, but nowadays, a single-breasted mac can feel a lot more practical. The difference between the two is in their designs. Trench coats were originally worn in the trenches of WWI, so they have militaristic details such as epaulets and gun flaps. Macs, on the other hand, are typically simpler and more streamlined, with just a fold down collar and two outer slash pockets. In that simplicity, I find that they’re easier to pair with a range of casualwear and tailored clothing. You can wear a mac with a chunky sweater and some jeans on the weekend, or with a tailored sport coat and some wool trousers for a smarter look. 

If you’re looking for a mac this fall, here are some options:

The Best in Classic Models

  • Mackintosh: The originator of the style, hence the term “mac.” They’re famous for their bonded cotton fabrics, which – while not terribly breathable – are unique in how they drape and feel. You can find them at Trunk Clothiers, No Man Walks Alone, O’Connell’s, and Cordings. I own and like the Dunkeld model, which is a classic, knee-length cut.
  • Grenfell: Another great British company with a ton of history. Their coats are known for their densely woven cloths, which are inherently water resistant because of the tightness of the weave. You can find them at Ben Silver.  
  • Aquascutum: Yet another great British company, although I don’t think any of their coats are made in the UK anymore. Still, I find them to be excellent. They have a wide range of models, with the slim fitting Broadgate being available at Barney’s.  
  • Invertere: Invertere died as a manufacturer many years ago, but was recently revived as a design label with limited distribution in Japan. O’Connell’s – being the treasure trove for classic men’s clothing that they are – has a few deadstock coats from the ‘90s (when the company was still making stuff). 

Modern Updates

  • Nanamica: This Japanese outerwear label has a shorter fitting mac made with a Gore-Tex layer. Probably too short to really wear with a sport coat, but potentially great with casualwear. Available at Oi Polloi.
  • Todd Snyder: Another short, slim fitting model. This time, in a subtle houndstooth pattern that can add visual interest to a plain looking sweater and pair of jeans.
  • APC: A classic looking mac in a more modern cut. A subtle suede detailing at the collar allows it to look a little more special. Available at Mr. Porter.
  • Italian Brands: High-end Italian brands often have slightly more fashion forward cuts. Look into labels such as Allegri and Herno, but check places such as Yoox and Bluefly first. They often have them on heavy discount.

More Affordable Buys

  • Brooks Brothers: Doesn’t sound affordable at $500, but remember that most things at Brooks Brothers get discounted by 25-50%. Just wait for the right sale.  
  • John Simons: This London-based Ivy Style shop has a couple of models in tan and navy. Price is lowered a bit when you remove ~20% for European taxes.
  • TM Lewin: One of the most affordable options of all. With the current sale price of $160, you’d be hard pressed to find something as nice brand new. Size down if you want something slim fitting, and take your regular jacket size if you plan to wear yours with tailored jackets. A very classic, simple style that will look great either way. 
  • Local thrift stores, eBay, and Yoox: As always, the most affordable coats are going to be on the second hand or clearance market. The good news is that raincoats are often very, very durable, so you can find things in great condition, but selling for pennies on the dollar. Learn how to search around.

(Photo via John Simons)