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A greatcoat or driving coat from 1812

A greatcoat or driving coat from 1812

It is lashing rain on the windows chez Calash, and soon enough the present-day chariot known as the Subaru will commence hauling Mr S to the train station and the Young Mr to school. Bikes and buses are unpleasant in the rain, though the Young Mr is always (and only) driven to school on Wednesdays due to a peculiar busing and schedule arrangement.

But what if they lacked this luxury, and had to venture out? The way it sounds out there, the smartest choice would be to stay at home by the fire, but someone  has to fetch the wood and the water, and someone has to milk the cow and fetch the fool cat in.

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Greatcoat, Chester County Historical Society. from Fitting and Proper, by Sharon Burnston. Scurlock Publishing, 1999.

If you could afford one, you’d wear your greatcoat (new or second-hand).

Made of broadcloth, this would be your non-flammable water-resistant choice for inclement weather. Woven and then milled, the fabric would be dense enough to resist water and hold a cut edge, which makes those capes a more winning proposition.

Over a slim-cut body, layered capes can emphasize and exaggerate shoulder width, making these utilitarian garments sexier than you’d expect. (Of course, I have a thing for guys dressed like this, so your mileage may vary. But by the Civil War, the lines are boxy and, well, yawn.)

Greatcoats aren’t even remotely on my list for this year, but someday I’d like to make one, if only to borrow it. Baby, it’s cold outside.