When it comes to clothing, guys are pickier than you would think. But what we're looking for is not so much color and style per se, but more about comfort. Now that is a loaded term, so let me name three characteristics of comfortable clothing:
...it doesn't mean go for the most functional, waterproof eyesore that you can get from some hipster outdoor brand.
While I know there's a need for the utilitarian buried somewhere in that Y chromosome we men all carry, there's a time and place where North Face/Patagonia gear is appropriate (e.g. literally in Patagonia).But in every day life, there's little need for such extreme protection from the elements. Very few of us will EVER need a jacket with an electronic avalanche rescue system, but having the option in a jacket will make most men pause (and, in some cases, shiver in technological delight) and think "yea... I think I need that just in case..." So I don't think that money is the issue, because most men will drop a few hundred dollars on these jackets without blinking. But the sad thing is, the thought never occurs to consider a more stylish option (like a peacoat, or a designed raincoat). So let me make the case that for the same price as a tricked-out piece of performance outerwear, you can equip yourself with a jacket/coat that is both functional and stylish. I'm incredibly biased here because I love jackets (the way a woman loves bags/shoes, I love me some jackets). I love them because they are the most architectural and innovative article of clothing that is in a man's closet. Dress shirts, pants, t-shirts and sweaters are relatively constant, but jackets can be long/short/light/heavy/patterned/solid/simple/complex and everything in between. Plus, a well-fitting jacket helps to give a guy a better shape (for those of us that do not have a Men's Health cover model's discipline/metabolism or Conan-the-Barbarian genes).
Before you guys groan or feel a bit old and dirty about it, please hear me out. I mean, yes, I've become something of a Twilight fangirl, or at least I subscribe to newmoonmovie.org and follow its 10+ updates every day with keen interest. But seriously. some time in the past year, I think Taylor Lautner--the fresh-faced, way too young, yet so incredibly and delectably chiseled star of the upcoming Twilight firm--must have gotten himself a stylist in addition to growing up a whole lot.
What an honor to be the first male contributor! I'd better make this one memorable then.
So in light of such a momentous occassion, I will put up for consideration perhaps the manliest of all wardrobe items: the trench coat.
Originally designed for the British army during World War 1, the trenchcoat has not only a historical significance but it's become a wardrobe staple to survive the daily battle of what to wear for both men and women.
I'll confess, I don't need a trenchcoat. But I've REALLY wanted one since I graduated college. They have a certain cinematic drama to them and yet they are terrifically practical - a perfect combination if you ask me.
They come in many different styles these days (ah mass market production how I love thee) so the decision process is a bit daunting... but I'm up for the task. And before making any retail purchase, I like to think about what exactly I want so I don't make any hasty decisions.
So the first and easiest decision point for me is length. Off the bat, being 5'6" makes it imperative that I don't go for the full length trench unless I want to look like I'm borrowing my much taller, older brother's jacket to play grown-up. Cross that one off the list. Then There's the cropped option that sits just around hip level - but a trench by definition should have some length in my book. So that leaves me with getting something between the mid thigh to knee. Check.
Now off to color. Ok this one's pretty hard. It's for sure going to be in a fairly basic color, but let's face it, everything in men's collections is in basic colors. There's the classic beige-ish color range, a more cement-y grey, black, olive, and navy on the racks these days. I think I may go for darker colors because light colors dirty easily and I'm a stain magnet. Check.
And lastly on my list of considerations - fabric. Considering the California Bay Area climate isn't that extreme - I'm in no need for a heavy Gabardine (which Thomas Burberry INVENTED. How does one invent a fabric? I know not, but I found that nugget interesting) or much lining for that matter- so something in the poplin/cotton family that's water-repellant enough for a light rain will suffice. Check.
So with those criteria, it's off to scour the interconnected tubes of the world wide web to see what retail offerings that may hit the search criteria and here's what I've been able to find (Pictures of the contenders are below.)
My favorite so far has to be this black Burberry trench... but plunking down the dolla-dolla-bills-y'all for this one jacket isn't exactly my style. I did try it on though while I was passing through the Duty Free shop and very nearly entered into a great deal of debt - the jacket felt that great. sigh.
I'll be hunting around for copycats, but I will say that this Thomas Burberry fellow knew what he's doing.
So - should I resist the urge to splurge? Or shall I put in the investment? Ugh. Decisions.