FashionMuse: d – duffle

Duffle coat: made from thick woollen cloth, lined at the shoulders with two large patch pockets, features a large hood and special toggle fastenings.

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Warm, comfortable, stylish… and nonchalant. What sets the duffle apart from other coats, is it’s effortlessness. It says current and classic and cool.

Also it really does keep out the cold and it’s wearable with formal wear (unlike the mac or parka.)







The life of a Duffel coat:

Belgian Born:

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The heavy material likely originated from Duffel, Belguim; here garments made from  a lanolin-rich woollen material were produced from the Middle Ages.


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Alert’s winter-quarters, c. May 1876

It’s possible at least one member of the British Expedition to the Arctic in 1875 wore an early version of the modern duffle coat.

The British Navy issued the coat as uniform in the 1880s. It was designed to cope with Navy hardships with a large hood to fit over a peaked Naval cap; a throat tab to keep out chilly winds; and wooden toggles that could be fastened with  thick gloves or freezing hands.

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Military Uniform WW1 (1919)


From Macho;

By the Second World War, the style had been refined and shaped. It was a communal garment, hung up for sailors to grab and sling on when needed.

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Sir David Stirling, Founder of the SAS (1940s)

Many, many thousands were produced in the 1940s and they spread from the Royal Navy to the other armed forces.

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To cool;

After the Second World War, redundant coats were sold off to the public cheaply becoming an obvious choice for cash-strapped students in the 1950s and 60s. And the free-thinking, academic, unconventional- in a time of upending social change.

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Jack Nicholson, Art Garfunkel

And then über-cool:

David Bowie, The Man Who Fell to Earth (1976)
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Roll With It, album cover (1995)

And now retro-cool:

Celebrities wearing duffle coats                         

Women had to wear smaller sized men’s duffles until the 1960s when lady versions were first produced.

Duffel coats are also associated with Paddington Bear, (who first sported one in Michael Bond’s book A Bear Called Paddington published in 1958) and are still a popular kid’s coat (or maybe that’s just the choice of nostalgic parents).

Where would winter be without a duffle?


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