Its 4:30pm, the sun has set, the temperature has dropped by 25°, and gale force winds are barreling down the streets, cutting through your clothes and chilling you to the core.  Sound familiar?  Yes, it’s Chicago winter and it’s confronting us head on once again.

So how do we successfully combat this brutal inevitability? While a tall glass of scotch might help, there are three coats that are essential for fighting off the bitterly cold climate: the car coat, the casual topcoat, and the formal overcoat.

You might be wondering, “Do I really need 3 different coats for the winter?”

Simply put, absolutely.

Car Coat:

Like your suits, some coats are only appropriate for specific occasions.  A car coat is a great option for your most casual day-to-day events. Originally designed in the 1950's for men who drove convertibles during the cooler months, the A-line shape of the coat gave men mobility while simultaneously keeping them warm.  Typically shorter than an overcoat and topcoat, a car coat cuts off at the mid-thigh and usually has a flat front.  Being a shorter length, this coat is perfect for the transitional weeks from fall to winter and winter to spring.

Casual Topcoat:

Perfect for everyday use, a casual topcoat can be worn over any suit and is great for almost any non-formal occasion.  Whether your wearing it as you walk to work, or toss it on over your sport coat and jeans, the casual topcoat is the most essential element in your winter wardrobe.

Traditionally, topcoats are knee length and come in a variety of different styles.  Regardless if it’s a double-breasted military style or a classic 3-button with a notch lapel, this coat is warmer than a car coat and more functional than a formal overcoat.

Formal Overcoat:

Perfect for any formal occasion, the overcoat is most commonly worn over a tuxedo or an elegant suit. The overcoat’s most distinguishing characteristic is its length. Typically falling below the knees and over the shins, the overcoat is the warmest and most formal of all the aforementioned coats.  Most commonly made in darker colors, overcoats are occasionally made with velvet on the back collar to give the coat a more formal feel.

Having these three coats in your wardrobe is the best way to guarantee your survival of a Chicago winter and look good no matter what coat you’re wearing. So be sure to pick the right coat for the right occasion and always remember that the last thing you put on is the first thing people see.