The Car Coat

The Car Coat: shorter and easier to wear

In bespoke tailoring the main thing that gives so much pleasure for me is that I’m dealing with individuals. People who have different ideas and personalities which I have to remember and adapt my fitting and styling to so that we both achieve what we want. Yes, we’ve a house style but subtle differences are what it’s all about.

As I’ve always said you’re only as good as your last coat. This is not simply a matter of technical ability or quality of workmanship. It’s very much to do with understanding what your client truly wants from his commission. In simple terms you can cut what you think is perfect but find your client’s not as convinced. In exactly the same way I may not be happy with the result but my client is over the moon as we’ve hit the spot exactly. This is of course is because it’s for an individual who thankfully has different ideas from everyone else which lets me enjoy a different challenge every time I put my shears in the cloth. It’s the old saying, “one mans meat is another mans poison”

The picture above is a classic example of this. This belongs to a lovely client who’s been kind enough to order a very substantial wardrobe from us. He’s all the classics then some very unusual suits that break the mould. He owns a beautiful classic single breasted overcoat but he wanted something shorter, more fitted and easier to wear on all occasions.

When I started in the trade this type of garment was called a “car coat”. You don’t hear the term any more but it was for exactly as its name suggest. Originally it was from the great days when most cars where open topped. The were rather chilly and and a nice coat was always needed, certainly in the UK. A classic overcoat would be too bulky and awkward to wear so the driver needed something sporty and comfortable but still had you looking elegantly dressed upon arrival.

So out of necessity the car coat was born. Shorter with a little flair for sitting comfortably with easy to access pockets to get your keys etc. Usually made as our example here of a sportier less formal material such as this lovely tweed from W. Bill which we’ve cut with back darts and a half belt for a little extra style. I’m not sure if my client will be wearing this in an open top vintage Bentley but when he does arrive at his destination he’ll definitely look the best dressed.

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About Thomas Mahon

Thomas Mahon is one of the most experienced tailors on Savile Row with a list of clients including royalty, celebrities and business icons. Tom has almost thirty years experience of hand tailoring in Savile Row including five years at Savile Row’s most famous and respected tailor, Anderson & Sheppard. His clients experience the traditions and expertise of the finest bespoke tailoring available today using a soft and unstructured style typical of Anderson & Sheppard. His workshop is based at Warwick Hall in Cumbria and also meets clients at his office in London, Tom also makes regular trips to visit his growing international client base in Europe, the USA and further afield. When not creating beautiful bespoke suits, travelling to see clients or sharing his sartorial advice with his internet followers, Tom enjoys teaching sailing and is the boats officer for the Sea Cadet Corps near his Cumbria home. For the full story visit
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