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.