A man’s coat says a lot about him. As the single most visible sign of one’s style inclinations during the fall and winter, outerwear speaks louder than any blazer or boot. Topcoats evoke suited formality, bombers say sporty, parkas nod to rugged pursuits. Each has a time and a place, but there is one style that blurs the lines, perfectly suited to the smart-casual, dressed-up-dressing-down mood of the moment: the balmacaan, or raglan coat.
Defined by rounded, raglan shoulders—constructed with a diagonal armhole unlike your average jacket—balmacaans have an inherently easy-going attitude. They’re tailored yet roomy, polished yet relaxed. While the style is enjoying a renaissance among contemporary menswear’s leading players, raglan-sleeved coats date back to the mid-19th century. Legend has it that the design was created for a British military officer who lost an arm at the Battle of Waterloo and, undeterred by his injury, needed a piece of outerwear that afforded him greater range of motion.
Functionally, that’s the balmacaan’s biggest perk: The construction isn’t constricting, no matter how many layers you have bundled up below. Stylistically, that generous, soft shoulder translates to a looser, laid-back silhouette. When rendered in traditionally dapper materials, like checked wools and herringbone tweeds, the result is a coat that effortlessly pairs with proper suits and casual sweaters and jeans alike. From hardy woven textiles that’ll ward off winter’s chill to lightweight gabardines ideal for downpours, here are eight of the best raglan coats to buy now.
Mackintosh ‘Dunbar’ Coat
The Mac coat for which the Scottish outerwear specialists at Mackintosh are best known is a close cousin of the balmacaan. Here, the brand fuses the two in a raglan-sleeved coat made of water-repellant gun check wool bonded to cotton gabardine. Finished with a corduroy collar and storm flap, it has all the elements (and endurance) of a classic country coat in a minimalist city-dweller silhouette.
Corneliani Belted Coat
The roomy, slightly oversized cut of raglan coats can easily become more form-fitting with an insouciantly knotted belt. In an elegant charcoal herringbone wool, Corneliani’s coat is refined enough for the board room but will look just as good with a pair of jeans and a turtleneck.
Lardini Single-Breasted Coat
With patch pockets, an exposed button placket and notched collar, Lardini leans into the balmacaan’s casual side, and gives a subtle Italian accent to this Anglo classic. The blend of brushed wool, mohair and alpaca, however, is something both the Brits and the Italians can agree is perennially stylish.
Gaiola Single-Breasted Coat
While raglan coats are generally known for their swingy, generous cut, that doesn’t mean they can’t be lithe—as evidenced by this beauty in a supple wool blend. The warm grey color is unique but endlessly wearable, easily paired with cool greys and blues as well as browns, greens and burgundy.
Herno Wool Overcoat
A textbook balmacaan so good it could pass as a vintage find. Rather than reinventing the wheel, Herno stays true to the raglan coat’s roots with a traditional cut and Prince of Wales checked wool. The pattern may be graphic but the neutral hues make it a breeze to wear.
De Bonne Facture ‘Granddad’ Coat
Raglan coats are most often seen in a single-breasted silhouette, but this iteration turns up the volume with a double-breasted closure and more dramatic notched lapel. Unconventional as those details may be, the herringbone wool and mottled buttons exude classic good looks.
Fendi Reversible Parka
For a more technical take on the balmacaan’s laid-back attitude, look to this parka from Fendi. The soft, raglan shoulders maintain the classic’s ease while the hood, water-repellant fabric and ample pockets offer modern utility. The mustard-colored lining adds a welcome pop of color or, if you’re feeling bolder, this reversible style can be a sunny antidote to wintery grays.
Stòffa Raglan Coat
Stòffa’s raglan coat is exquisitely understated, punctuated with a self-tie belt and a tall collar that’s begging to be popped. As it’s made-to-measure, this option not only affords a superlative fit but allows you the option to choose your fabric, from this hefty houndstooth wool to lightweight water-repellant cotton.