by S. Charlie Weyman

Men have never had more options when it comes to outerwear. Browse any shop and you’ll find dozens of styles taking inspiration from military, workwear, and outdoor traditions. Materials range from heavy wools to bonded cottons to performance fabrics – all designed for different weather conditions.

Most of us will need at least a few winter coats. One for days when it’s windy and wet, built with a weatherproof shell and, if we can afford it, taped seams. Another packed with some kind of insulation (or, ideally, a removable liner) for when temperatures drop below 30F. Then something light and casual for when the weather is less brutal. Suede bombers, denim truckers, and quilted sport coats are all great for those days, especially if you favor denim and chinos on weekends like me.

Whether you wear suits often or not, I think everyone also ought to have a proper dress coat. Something sharp and tailored, designed for layering over another jacket or just worn on its own. If you do wear a suit or sport coat, a dress coat (sometimes called an topcoat, or in a heavier form, an overcoat) upholds the elegance of your outfit better than, say, a waxed parka (although those can be good if you want some contrast). But personally, I like them best with jeans and a chunky sweater. It’s the perfect way to wear tailored clothing without having to deal with the “why so dressed up?” comments.

My favorite topcoats tend to come from country or sporting traditions – less grey Chesterfield, more tan Polo or tweed Ulster. Or, better still, the easy fitting Balmacaan, which is named after an estate near Inverness, Scotland. Originally designed for bad weather, the Balmacaan is usually built from a tightly woven gabardine or tweed, then made with a Prussian collar that can be buttoned up to the neck. The raglan sleeves and loosely cut body give a slouchy silhouette, while the fly front helps keep out wind. The longer, traditional length means that the coat will sway beautifully as you walk – lending a bit of drama to whatever else you’re wearing. Like your favorite winter sport coats, it has that casual sense of country style, while also looking smart.

As with anything that requires proper tailoring, a good Balmacaan tends to be on the slightly more expensive side of things. But if you’re going to splurge on anything, splurge on outerwear. The centerpiece of any ensemble tends to be the outermost layer. With a Balmacaan, it just so happens to be a classic style that goes just as well with suits and sport coats as it does with casualwear.