Sunday, February 7, 2010

The Polo Coat-Camel Hair and The Flap Flap

Here’s a bit from a great article on the Polo Coat from Ivy Style and Town and Country….

“The camel hair coat has changed its style a bit over the years, yet remains a classic of the genre. Brooks Brothers has been stocking them forever or at least since the early years of the 20th century, and Ralph Lauren’s version  with flapped chest pocket is an authentic copy of one worn by the Duke of Windsor himself.

By 1930, the polo coat outnumbered the raccoon at the Yale-Princeton football game, which was as sure a sartorial barometer as could be found!

Bruce Boyer-Town and Country July, 1981 Issue
Now the visual proof of the Duke wearing said coat with pocket flap-only is negated because his lapels were so darned wide.

I can’t remember appreciating the functionality of my clothing purchases to any greater degree than I’m enjoying this coat. Camel hair-to quote LFG once again, is “cuddly” and I now have three versions of it. 
No wonder that the camel hair Polo Coat and its hybrid kin are seen routinely in photos of gentleman in various forms of recreation and leisurely pursuits. It’s intriguing to see the elegant dichotomy and obtuseness manifest in a tennis-golf-polo-turf participant or spectator donning said coat over their activity specific apparel. For lack of a better characterization-cool.
Walter Hagen donned the Camel Polo before stepping up for a trophy and a check. I've already blogged about Hagen's contribution to elevating the income of and respect for pro golfers.
Hagen with that other guy who was known for nice togs.
Polo Coat apres Tennis
And it seems that 19th century Jockeys found overcoats to be quite comforting between rides. I love this windowpane contrivance swathing Mornington Cannon. 
Vince Lombardi avec the Camel Polo. "Now Bart...."

I loved Green Bay when I was a little kid. Why? Who else were you going to root for when you live in South Carolina? I liked their helmet-it has my last initial on it. I got a Bart Starr uniform and helmet for Christmas one year. M.W. got a Miami Dolphins outfit-you could order any team you wanted from the Sears catalogue. I remember breaking my leg a couple of days later while kitted out in my Green Bay rig. My football career ended early-real early.
If the Polo Coat was good enough for The Babe then it's good enough for me.
You can find the coat on cigar smoking automotive entrepreneurs in Delaware.
And a ton of Polo Coat and other overcoat inspiration from Apparel Arts.
Flap Included.

I publish almost all of the comments that roll in regarding my posts-with the exception of the xenophobic white separatist that commented the other day. Most of the digs at me are justified and therefore accepted and posted in the spirit intended. Including the one regarding the chest pocket flap on my half price Polo-Ralph “Polo Coat”…..

Anonymous said...
Think about having Flusser's tailors remove that flap over the breast pocket.
(I think it's why it was left over for reductions.
 No thanks. I actually LIKE the flap. Now I’ve got the results of a sartorial boondoggle or two in my closet and my fuzzy diceyness is certainly no secret so a chest pocket flap on my Polo Coat?-bring it on. It’s just the kind of extraneous accoutrement that I like. Functional? Not so much. I can’t see me engaging in rigorous antics that would cause the contents of said chest pocket to jostle out. So it’s kind of like one’s appendix (bad metaphor-bad metaphor) I suppose. You don’t HAVE to have it.
There are many a sartorial blogger with greater erudition in these matters than me so my research interests regarding the “flap” have petered out. What I did find in my snooping about was a plethora of examples reflecting that said flap has been an option on various types of overcoats for years. Gentry Magazine from the early 1950's was brimming with the "Flap". So there.
Chest Flap Hacking Flaps and Ticket Flap....Flappin' Ones Ass Off. Even I might posit that this one is suffering from Over Flap.
Now the Prince isn't flapping in this photo but his mate to the left is. Where's his boy Fruity Metcalf? Damn I love those British nicknames. "Fruity"...gotta love it. Especially when a guy like me comes from the land of nicknames more centric to "Bubba and Stinky". Binkie Beaumont is another zinger that comes to mind.

Looks to me like a demi-flap. Crescent demi-flap? Sounds like a damned Starbucks order. Shut the Flap Up.

So I can't tell you anything about the Flap-other than I like it. What I can do is leave you with a few other coats that are worthy of recognition.

Merkin's Tony Biddle inspired coat.
The Sartorial God only knows what this is. The onliest thing I can say is that it's stronger than nine rows of Spring Onions. Stop the damn bus and let me off. I gotta have one.
What is this cloth? Cashmere Terry? I think Cashmere Terry danced in the Hootchie Cootchie Show at the Fairgrounds with Aunt Tootie come to think of it.
Vanity Fair caricatures probably offer as rich a repository for Coat Inspiration as on cold hope to find. Some with Flaps. Some without.
Robert Falcon Scott
D'Oyly Carte
Sam Loates
Arthur Coventry
Some Turf Plonker
And finally, J.A.M. Whistler



ELS said...

Flapping genius - you made me laugh mid-rant - the Colonel thinks that makes you a flapping saint.

Sacheverell Pei said...

This was genius and essential! Found you through Summer is a Verb.
-Sachie P.

The Sluice Box said...

I saw a young guy at a liquor store early one morning with a camel polo coat worn loosely over jeans and an equally casual shirt. It was at once sloppy and stylish. What's your term...preppy homeless? My interest in these coats is definitely piqued.

heavy tweed jacket said...

Flapping brilliant post. You have made the authoritative post on the camel hair coat. And, you have added a flapping-new-cheekily-playful-semi-swear-word at a time when I thought that no one knew how to do this anymore. All that snow in D.C. must be strangely creative.

James said...

KEEP THE FLAP! Nice use of Brian's photo, a classy guy.

Easy and Elegant Life said...

Flapping beautiful. I like that pocket detail a lot.

Now about astrakhan collars...

NCJack said...

A touch of insouciance (sp?). I love authoritative pronouncements about the "true" and/or "proper" coat/suit/spats, which are immediately countered with pix of Lord Dork wearing something different at Ascot, etc.

A nice 3" brim fedora, or a "lord's hat", and you're in flapping business

Anonymous said...

As I posted before, beautiful coat- keep the flap. I too have a Polo polo that I got for a steal, though sans flap. Having seen the newer version in the store, your coat is definitely of a softer and more supple fabric.

With regard to Lombardi, what do you think are the chances of Reebok designing their own version of the polo coat so that one of today's coaches could wear the same on the sidelines?

Brian said...

Flapping great post! You made me realize I have got to break that coat out a bit more this winter.

Richard said...

For once in a long while, your blog didn't freeze my computer and allowed me to comment. Great post, and I am inspired to buy my first Polo Camel Coat. Honestly, I am ashamed that I don't already own one.

On another note, I know we both own Ralph's Cordovan Brown Tassel Loafers. I also own several other Alden and Allen Edmonds Cordovan Shoes in Burgundy, and I bought the cordovan polish to keep them looking spiffy. However, I have had little success in regaining that out of box shine. What do you use to keep your cordovans looking so nice, and particularly what do you do to keep up the Ralph's? This old clothing sage is pretty good at maintenance and upkeep, but cordovan shoes kick my butt.

And, I noticed that you do own a pair of the Rugby Tartan Slippers that TinTin purchased. I saw them on your feet with those red cords. :) Its ok, I bought a pair last week myself.

Keep up the good work, and I appreciate any advice you can give on the shoe maintenance.

dpf said...

A sudden thought came to mind after seeing that photo of Richard Merkin's coat...YEARS ago -- I think the NYT Magazine (although it may have been M or GQ, et al) published a profile about Merkin that included many inspiring photos of his closet, wardrobe, and bedroom (dressing room?)and his personal thoughts about dressing. Is anyone else aware of these photos -- I've done a quick search online but came up with nothing.Would love to see them again......DPHF

Anonymous said...

C'mon, I cannot be the only one seeing the spot-on Maxminimus resemblance to the Mornington Cannon jockey?
Not sure you are jockey stature, doesn't seem so, but still........dead ringer!


ADG said...

ELS…Must have been a slow weekend if this drivel made you laugh! We are covered in snow again.

Sacheverell ...Thanks for finding the blog and thanks for the kind comments.

Sluice Box...Get one-you’ll like it.

Heavy tweed...Thanks. Where the hell did your blog go? The snow diminished my creativity-therefore I drink-flapsfull.

James ...I’ll add tintin to the post later this morning.

Easy and Elegant...Astrakhan collar….yes! I want one in squirrel.

NCJack ...I’m the guy who always has a bit of trouble with strident admonitions regarding what’s within the rules and boundaries and what’s not. I’m all for a guiding theme-a compass-but NOT a detailed road map. As for brimmed hats-can’t seem to do them without feeling self conscious and that’s pretty significant for me. Usually I don’t give a damn.

Anonymous... Coaches and most players don’t give a damn about how they look. I never saw Bear Bryant without a hat or Tom Landry without a hat and tie-that era is over. Yes-I’ve also learned about the differences in camel hair fabrics. The Polo Coat in J. Press this year looked thin and pale compared to mine. You oughta throw a denim or madras flap on your coat.

Brian...Sell some cars this week!

Richard ... Hope it hasn’t been the blog content that’s made your computer freeze. Tartan slippers? There must be some mistake.
Now on to the cordovan shoe shining dilemma. I’m as perplexed as you Richard. The biggest challenge I have is with the tan Polo/Crockett and Jones tasseled ones. I just flat out can’t keep them shined. The one thing I’ve learned with the Alden color 8 cordovans-and this is probably the case with any of the colors-is that you should use a MINIMAL amount of polish. Once you cake the shoes with heavy layers of polish you’ll never get it out of the leather and the true depth/patina of the naturally oiled hide won’t come through. So I’ve helped you none Richard-only commiserated with you.

D.P. ... I have the article in question. Email me and give me your mailing address and I’ll send you a copy. I’m not comfortable scanning and posting the entire article without permission.

Anonymous ...I’m not kin to Mornington Cannon but he was by the way, the legendary Jockey Lester Piggott’s great uncle.

Anonymous said...

I think the coat you wonder about above was known as a British warm.

There were several varieties -- see for example:

(Keep Toad away from this.)

Anonymous English Female said...

ADG - I think you should be inspired by D'Oyly Carte and Whistler - have Flusser make you up deatachable fur collar and cuffs and wear your Camel coat with flamboyant velevt bows on your shoes. NC Jack's right with his hat suggestion - self conscious - YOU?! Come on...

ADG said...

Anonymous...ahh yes...I did read about the "British Warm".

AnonEngFem...I think your suggestion is a STELLAR one. Mainly because I could also use the detachable collar-cuffs at the beach to complement my Borat Thong. Whistler's Pump Bows...I'll pass on those.

Richard said...

I appreciate your attempt to help, and knowing that I am not the only one suffering from this problem is comforting. Thanks again, I appreciate your thoughts.

Anonymous said...

Great coat, and I like the pocket flap.

You look very handsome in it. The reference to genuine peccary gloves in the photo had me googling peccary. I have a pretty good vocabulary when it comes to things sartorial, but this was a new one for me.

I'd love to own this coat, but at a short 5'7" anything double-breasted is best avoided.

I wish you decades of enjoyment with this wonderful new wardrobe accession

Anonymous said...

"...I think your suggestion is a STELLAR one. Mainly because I could also use the detachable collar-cuffs at the beach to complement my Borat Thong."

Bring it on, mister.

After all this snow and ice, your be-thonged self would be like a ray of purest sunshine here at the beach, my sometimes-virtual-sometimes-corporeal friend.

Anonymous said...

ONly just noticed that the pic of HRH Prince of Wales - published if i racall in Farid Chenounes History of Mens Fashion and that has been on my wall for years, is actually reversed (look at the buttoning of his jacket) which explains why the feller on the left has a flap on what appears to be his right breast. In fact it is on his left.

ADG said...

Anon...Exactly. A LOT of the photographs from that era and others were printed in reverse thus adorning right breasts with pockets-flaps-hankies etc.

Soxtory said...

Unlined pigskin gloves with a polo coat and a six foot scarf. Never, ever wear jeans unless you own a ranch!

ADG said...

Vernon...thanks. You are full of shit regarding the Ranch criteria for wearing jeans!

Anonymous said...

Where do you recommend I purchase a camel hair coat in the Washington, D. C. area next fall? What do you think of the Brooks camel hair coats? Thanks in advance.


Ken said...

Babe Ruth's Camel Overcoat was tailored made for him by an exclusive New York Tailor, Mr. Frank August Marini. Mr. Marini also made the cape that President Roosevelt is seen wearing at the Yalta conference seated with both Churchill and Stalin. Other clients of Mr. Marini were Cary Grant, Arthur Treacher and Inga Bergman.

Anonymous said...

What's the fit and sizing of the RL coat like?
Would you size down? Or are they very slim?
Any help would be appreciated! Thanks!

ADG said...

Anon...I did NOT size down. I bought a 38 reg which is my off the peg sportcoat size.

Anonymous said...

Ralph Lauren's version is one of the better one's anyway, and is probably one of the best re-created reproductions, on some of the most authentic and original styles of the Polo Coat. Mr. Lauren is one of the most talented, of exacting designers when it comes to details.