Men's toggle coat is a salute to British Royal Navy

JoAnne Klimovich Harrop
| Thursday, Nov. 29, 2012, 8:58 p.m.

The classic closures give it away.

These well-recognized wooden or horn fastenings with rope or leather loops that go down the front of a coat are called toggles.

And this style is the choice of outerwear for men to keep them warm and fashionable this winter.

“It is a traditional outerwear option for men that stays in style season after season, and can be updated with different accents, trims and fabrics, keeping it modern and fresh,” says Chris Cox, creative director for Nautica. “Navy, black and gray are color options that are classic, versatile to go with any outfits and can be dressed up or down. A wool-blend is the best way to go if you are going to wear it for work or evening.”

Depending on the rest of the outfit, a wool coat can be worn dressy over a suit, or casual with a sweater and jeans, Cox says.

A nylon toggle coat is better for the weekend, as it's a more active-inspired piece, he says.

The men's toggle coat is a versatile style that delivers a lot of warmth and is easy to button up because of the closures on the front, says A.J. Curran, L.L. Bean outerwear director.

In one of the L.L. Bean options, the coat's toggle closures, patch pockets and attached hood lend a certain ruggedness that pairs well with jeans, but are not so over the top that they look out of place with dress pants, Curran says.

That fact that it owes its popularity to the British Royal Navy, which issued a camel-color variant of it as an item of warm clothing during World War I also helps its credibility, Curran says. It is sometimes referred to as a duffel coat from its wartime use. It was slightly modified during World War II.

“Camel is the most traditional color and will never be out of style, but navy is also a great color for men,” Curran says.

Some styles, such as one by Christopher Fischer, elevates the popular style one step further with the addition of luxe Italian yarn. With a detachable hood and ribbed chunky detailing, it underscores that delicate balance between contemporary style and classic design, says Christopher Fischer, president and CEO of Christopher Fischer.

“The toggle coat is a reinvention of the classic duffel coat with all-natural materials — leather, horn and fabric,” Fischer says. “It's the perfect blend of modern and vintage, creating a piece that is ultimately cool at its core. Hence, it should be no surprise that this coat has become an enduring classic.”

JoAnne Klimovich Harrop is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at or 412-320-7889.

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