The Kelly imposition

Classics — they’re very in this year, aren’t they? You can’t go anywhere without bumping into balmacaans, Ulsters, trench coats, Lodens, Chesterfields, polo coats, and assorted other golden oldies. And like a stopped clock being right once a day, they’re must-haves this winter.

Now, it is all very well paying lip-service to these classics. And, truth be told, it is easy to make them. But make is the operative word: if you want to produce one of the classics, you can skip design or development, and go straight to make. More difficult, but more fulfilling, is to take a classic and impose upon its famed form and features your own ideas. To make it yours, by modernising or streamlining; to try to establish your own motifs with new sizes and positions; to get to grips with classic proportions and give them a good jiggle; sometimes, even, to go back to the foundations, gut them, and build from scratch.

The peacoat, then, has a three-panel body and in-seam pockets submerged into its patches. It also has a one-piece split-sleeve, for good reasons, and turn-back half-cuffs, for whimsical ones. The trench coat takes those fiddly belt-loops and sweeps them away. It then makes its belt more useful by applying the multi-sliding retainer of a bag strap. The flight jacket has a saddle-shoulder construction, outlining where once would lie epaulettes. The donkey jacket has the contrasting top and bottom of the classic, but does it in a way that embraces, or integrates, a seamless upper-body. It even slides a pocket in there, for good measure. The duffle coat does the same trick with its yoke at the front.

And so the balmacaan, which has served with distinction since 2014. Hasn’t put a foot wrong. And is very much the embodiment of country-city classic. But no coat is an island, and so over the past few weeks, it too has had new ideas — ideas of the house — imposed on it. More seams here, fewer there. Pockets redrawn, collar reshaped. It is still very much a classic, but, from now on, not the classic. That you can get just about everywhere else.