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Russell Smith

What kind of coat do you wear in this in-between weather? Add to ...

The question

What kind of coat do you wear in this in-between weather?

The answer

The in-between coat is a bugbear of men’s fashion. The wool overcoat is too heavy, but the Canadian spring is not quite warm enough to go coatless. Your windbreaker and your bomber jacket can’t go over a blazer or a suit. Many Canadian men own raincoats that are actually meant for rain – that is, they are waterproof and of some nasty squelching synthetic fibre and probably in a bright colour, too.

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What they don’t have is an old-fashioned cotton gabardine raincoat. Gabardine is a kind of sturdy weave (it’s very finely ribbed) that military raincoats have long been made of. You can get it with or without a treated surface that will make it mildly water-resistant (nothing is going to make cotton water-repellent). Personally, I avoid all such sheens.

You want a simple, plain, single-breasted, button-up gabardine topcoat in light grey or tan. Dark colours are always fine, too. Ideally it will have a fly-front (that is, a placket that covers the buttons), and it will be shortish – preferably above the knees.

It will not be covered in flaps and epaulettes and belts like a trench coat. It won’t be shiny. It will be unfussy, barely noticeable.

It won’t keep you dry in the rain; its function is lightweight warmth. For rain, we have umbrellas.

And if you don’t have one of these, you’ll be fine with a tweed jacket over a fine wool hoodie and a flashy scarf, Frenchly knotted at the throat.

Novelist Russell Smith’s memoir, Blindsided, is available as a Kobo e-book. Have a style question? E-mail style@globeandmail.com.

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