The Crombie Coat
I couldn’t find an image of the Simpsons of Piccadilly coat I refer to in the About section, but essentially it was a Crombie coat like the one pictured here. Straight pockets. mid thigh, very fitted under the arms and short on the wrist. There are so many companies that make this style of coat, beautifully constructed ones like I had from Simpsons, made more for the city gentleman, right through to very low budget ones made for whatever generation of young suedeheads and skinheads that are around today. Carnaby Street, with its ever present Mod revival shops: Merc and the other one that is a woman’s name who I can never remember (Shirley’s???), are the place to go for the latter. For the former, where else but Crombie themselves. Most proper department stores will have a Crombie section.
With its postbox red lining there’s a slight touch of flash to the Crombie coat. Though, like most gentleman’s clothing, the flash element, which is normally what gives away the fact you have spent a small fortune on the item, should always be hidden from view. Just there for you to know about and no one else. Quality clothes are not cars after all. The brand statement to stitched safely inside, not stuck on the back for all the world to see. However, if you are wearing it unbuttoned and the wind catches it, you do get a wee frisson of cool as the world momentarily gets a glimpse of the bright red lining.
I have to admit I never really liked these coats with suits. To be really honest though I don’t like any coat with a suit, but that’s another entry. For me the Crombie coat goes so well with jeans and shirts. Jeans that contrast, so not too dark, but ones that are not too faded either. You want crisp smart jeans, preferably with an even fade, straight legged and turned up short so you can see the sock. I would even go so far as to iron a crease in them. Trousers work too, but English-cut flat fronted ones. This is a slim fitting coat, so no loose/generous cut items or they ill conflict. Light coloured ones too. I remember one time seeing style demi-god Robert Elms interviewing Terence Conran on the BBC London news and he was wearing the most perfect Crombie outfit I think I’ve ever seen in my life. Admittedly he wasn’t wearing a classic dark Crombie. It was more of a tweed looking one. Plus it had a heavy twill weave collar that had a rib running through it. I can confirm it was a Crombie though, because I still to this day regret not buying the very same one I saw in Dickens and Jones on Regent Street.. I fell so madly in love with it, but I just didn’t have the 500 quid needed to get it. Still breaks my heart to this day. Anyways, I digress, Robert had this beautiful Crombie coat, with a crisp white shirt, which I think may have been a button down, with some light grey checked trousers, more than likely a Prince of Wales check, or even a dog-tooth, and lastly a pair of highly polished brown/ox-blood shoes. You didn’t get to see his feet properly, so I couldn’t tell what they were. Knowing his love for them they may well have well been a pair of Oliver Sweeeny’s brogues. I still think doe-eyed back to that news piece and how amazing Robert looked. And I still kick myself to this day for not getting that bloody coat too. Robert, I don’t suppose you want to flog yours do you.