Added To Wish List: The Herringbone Polo Coat

For many years the 1981 BBC miniseries “Brideshead Revisited” has been my favorite film, if you can call a 10-hour book adaptation a film. It had been enough years since I’d last seen it, and so I decided to watch again between Christmas and the New Year.

A great book or movie will constantly yield new insights and nuances, and as you change, you see the work differently. To paraphrase a famous literary critic, your “Hamlet” at 20 is not the same as your Hamlet at 40 or 60.

Apparently this theory applies to clothing as well, for among the many fine outfits in “Brideshead,” one stood out that I didn’t seem to remember, and it was like seeing it for the first time. It’s an outfit that Charles, played by Jeremy Irons, wears on the transatlantic voyage, and looks straight out of a Laurence Fellows drawing for Apparel Arts in the ’30s.

Charles wears a shirt, crewneck sweater, and silk scarf tucked like an ascot. And on top is a superb double-breasted herrringbone coat. It had been a long time since I had a sudden case of sartorial desire, and this coat was love at first sight. Herringbone is my favorite pattern, and there’s nothing quite like the swagger of a double-breasted coat.

So presented as eye candy for you and torture for me is the image below, which I found on the web and which is naturally made by Ralph Lauren.

I was also able to find this brown version from Ben Silver, though it’s no longer available.

I was going to post this yesterday but it’s a good thing I held off. Last night, while bashing balls on the Brooks Brothers golf simulator, I spotted the coveted coat on a browsing customer and asked if I could take his picture. He politely obliged, confirmed the coat, as suspected, was from Ralph, and said he had the camel version as well. When I told him the shot was for Ivy Style, he said, “Oh, the Japanese book?” Turns out he was thinking of “Take Ivy.” Also turns out he’s a Yalie.

One more thing: if anyone has one of these in size 38 or 40 and wants to temporarily swap for my camel polo coat for the rest of the winter, shoot me a message. — CC

35 Comments on "Added To Wish List: The Herringbone Polo Coat"

  1. Charlottesville | January 18, 2017 at 12:30 pm |

    Very nice coats, Christian. I have a brown and cream herringbone polo coat that is the warmest thing I own. It is a heavier tweed than most overcoats and came from Orvis, of all places. Like you, I fell for it at first sight and, even better, it was on sale for around $350 when I spotted it about 10 years ago in a local Orvis shop. There is a picture of it on Pinterest (https://www.pinterest.com/pin/327073991659055860/ ) and it got a mention in Ask Andy at some point, but does not seem to be available for purchase any longer. There is a picture of Prince Charles in a similar model on voxsartoria: http://www.voxsartoria.com/post/155358507443/dads-in-polo-coats-prince-charles-and-prince . Also, I’m with you on Brideshead. A favorite book and one of the best dramatizations I have seen on film or television. The script, credited solely to John Mortimer, is the most faithful book adaptation I know of. I have it on DVD (which shows how technologically out of date I am), and re-watch it for the clothes, the sets, the music and the story.

  2. Christian… If you can make 42 work the perhaps this link…. http://www.ebay.com/itm/Polo-Ralph-Lauren-Black-Beige-Herringbone-Wool-Topcoat-Coat-Sz-42-/142245486025?hash=item211e7dddc9:g:8cQAAOSw9GhYekmI

    Note that although this one includes the chest flap pocket you don’t like, that is indicative of a newer coat and slimmer sizing. The polo coats pre-flap were much roomier than what RL sells today. My pre-flap camel is 44 and fits perfectly, whereas when I tried one on in the Chicago store a month or two ago, I needed at 48T.

  3. I started watching I, Claudius last night. Alas, no wardrobe wishes there. Edward Petherbridge’s portrayal as Lord Peter Wimsey and Hugh Laurie’s Bertie Wooster yield some great items from which to choose though. Don’t even get me started on the cars.

    Will

  4. Watched Jeeves & Wooster many times and thought Hugh Laurie terrific. Funny golf scenes. But I don’t recall ever liking any of his outfits. Maybe it was the floppy fedora he always wore in town.

  5. @Christian

    Funny you should mention the golf scenes from Jeeves and Wooster. Loved the one with Bertie playing the adjustable iron. Click, Click, no more golf bag misery, or something to that effect.

    For several years now, I’m been playing an adjustable iron on occasion, mainly when I play solo. I have a Divnick, a Universal, and until a couple months ago, one from the 1960’s. The 60’s iron literally exploded, really something when metal fatigues, the metal just minutely stress cracks, and then disintegrates at some point.

    Anyhow, the adjustables play remarkably well, distance suffers though. I usually carry a 3W as a second club, but when I feel really lazy, just play the adjustable from the ladies’ tees. ( A good idea, the ladies’ tees, when playing hickory shaft clubs, too, as from the J&W era.)

    Just be ready to get weird looks and comments.

    Cheers!

  6. @ Wriggles

    I believe the Royal and Ancient would frown on such an apparatus.

    Regarding wood on…well…woods, I would forego the hickory shafts and suggest persimmon woods and driver with the appropriate shaft for your swing. They can be quite forgiving if you miss-hit and look quite cool. Incidentally, I picked up a pair of cordovan FootJoy longwing golf shoes new from old stock for a price that was so low that I’m ashamed to say.

    7 handicap

  7. And so the conversation gets hijacked by those crazy men who golf….

    Such a beguiling game. Eventually you come to accept it as part of the game’s charm.

    A month ago I had a session with a good clubfitter as part of my research for that PXG story. Based on how I was setting up and my swing keys for that day, there was a clear shaft that felt best, went the farthest, and had the narrowest dispersion. It was an 80-gram graphite shaft by Accra, on a 6 iron.

    Then, now that Brooks is managing its simulator directly and not in partnership with Golf Manhattan, a lot of the clubs were taken out and the only irons are stiff and steel. I didn’t like them, so my lady friend donated a few irons. We’d had them cut for her, which stiffened them, so they were now reg flex and only 45 grams. I started to use those as they were more comfortable, and I started seeing consistently huge numbers for me: 9 irons 145-155, and 6s and 7s at 180. I’m an average hitter, so those were the biggest numbers I’d ever seen in five years of having my yardages on the simulator at Brooks.

    So then I got a lesson a week ago, still trying to work out the issue of stance width and how it affects my plane and everything else, and suddenly I was ripping it with the stiff steel clubs with new off-the-chart numbers, like pitching wedges going 130 and gap wedges 115 with irons that I’d previously thought too heavy with my narrow stance.

    And then I popped into a retailer and messed around, grabbing every demo iron they had. There was one that was way longer than all the others, the new Callaway Steelhead. Hit a bunch of 7s in the 180s up to 198. I’m sure the numbers are inflated, but that clubhead was 20 yards longer than all the others, and with a 95 gram steel shaft.

    All because the instructor said, “You’re flexible. Why don’t you just stand wide and do nothing with your lower body?”

    It’s all so confusing. I emailed the clubfitter today and told him we need to start all over.

  8. Marc Chevalier | January 18, 2017 at 5:46 pm |

    Here you go, Christian. Close enough, and the right price too: http://www.ebay.com/itm/112272929053

  9. GREAT find @MarcChevalier, sooo much better than some contemporary model, stiff with modern contrivance and smelling of new. Listen to Marc, CC.

  10. @Christian

    I would not over-think clubs, especially in a simulator. There is nothing like hitting irons off actual grass. If you are athletic, I think you should hit a steel shaft with a narrow stance with the ball back in your stance and your irons hooded. You will draw the ball with wicked distance. For years, I only carried irons and a three wood in my bag to hit just for fun.

    For a hilarious read about golf, may I recommend P.G. Wodehouse’s Those in Peril on the Tee. Though it may be a minority opinion, I regard the Mr. Mulliner short stories on par with the Wooster novels.

    Will

  11. I have a book called Wodehouse on golf and it’s probably in there.

    In my opinion, the parts of golf that should be not overthought are attempting to control 1.5 seconds of motion with conscious thought, rather than trusting the subconscious, which is what really, or at least better, controls body movement.

    The things that should be thought out are everything outside that 1.5 seconds, which includes equipment and course management.

    Have you ever been on Trackman or a video analysis camera?

  12. @Christian

    I would be willing to bet that Rory McIlroy could take a set of Spalding Executives from Goodwill and do great things with them. (Used Spalding Executives were my first set of clubs) Establish an affective swing and then stick with it in a calm, clear minded way. Easy, isn’t it?

    I’m not familiar with Trackman but I was once analyzed to the point that it took me two weeks to get my swing back. Come to think of it, your should probably forget everything I said before. ;OP

    Will

  13. Well now you’re talking about something else, that Rory could hit anything decent, which of course is true as he will probably go down as one of the greatest ever. My point was that he said he doesn’t focus on his much-envied hip action, and that’s exactly what helped me come out of a meandering stroll in the forest and get back on the trail.

    Yes, I’m guessing at your stage of the journey you should avoid data analysis and enjoy the walk down the fairway. But for me, the journey is still at the beginning.

  14. Mr. Sacksuit said it all. Rory COULD play any set of club well.. We can, too. Fitting clubs to faulty swings is the golf industry’s answer. A golfer should strive for a better swing. Lessons and practice are much more beneficial than countless “fittings” designed to sell more golf clubs.

    I question the value of the “instructor” who told Christian to “stand wide and do nothing with your lower body.”

    I’ve played golf for over fifty years. I play hickories to relatively modern, including the adjustable. My scores improved dramatically when I became a “minimalist” golfer 15-20 years ago. 3W, 5, 8,PW, and putter in a Sunday bag, walking the course. Add a driver occasionally for fun.

    My opinion, for what it’s worth.

  15. This is slightly off topic, but this post reminded me of the second-hand raglan tweed overcoats that were all the rage when I was at school in the early ’80s, at the same time Brideshead was on TV. We’d get them at thrift shops, where they were plentiful. Some wag at my school dubbed them “alienation tweeds”, because they were worn by people who studied philosophy and listened to doomy post-punk and New Wave music and had floppy fringe haircuts like Jeremy Irons in Brideshead or Martin Fry in ABC. I loved those coats. I wish someone would bring them back.

  16. Did anyone here just win the auction for this one, posted above by @Benjamin?

    http://www.ebay.com/itm/Polo-Ralph-Lauren-Black-Beige-Herringbone-Wool-Topcoat-Coat-Sz-42-/142245486025?hash=item211e7dddc9:g:8cQAAOSw9GhYekmI

    If the coat doesn’t work out for you after you receive it, let me know. I’ll buy it off of you.

  17. Yes did anybody win?

    I also forgot to add that in addition to the flap-chest pocket polecats today being roughly two sizes slimmer than the pre-flap coats, they are also 12 inches shorter.

    I know traditionalists will HATE that, however, I’d argue that the shorter coat makes you look much slimmer overall, especially when wearing the coat open, and with more casual outfits. I’m even thinking about having the tailors at Polo shorten my pre-chestflap pocket camel polo coat by 12″ inches too. I just have to come to terms with whether I’ll be happy with that decision in 30 years from now. But before any of you bark down my throat, just know that the coat is still considered “full length” by every reasonable measure.

    Lastly, it’s also interesting that I’m considering the shortening the coat because I in fact had to get them to lengthen the sleeves (properly, by bringing the cuffs down without elongating them from the bottom). @Christian I imagine you had to do that as well for your camel.

  18. Polocoats* not polecats. Darned auto-correct.

  19. @Wriggles

    “Do nothing” means not conscioius movement in knees, hips sliding, “bumping” toward the target. Simply allow the lower body to work in response to the swinging of the arms. Of course they will do something, but that’s not where one’s focus is.

    I’ve studied very, very hard and when I find something that works you’ll have to trust me.

    A wise golfer told me a few years ago that it takes 5 years to find YOUR swing. That’s right where I am, and it’s down to ever smaller details now.

  20. Too many mind Christian – San.

  21. Hope we can play together some time!

  22. @Benjamin, what’s your definition of “full length” for an overcoat? For me, it’s anything that falls between the ankle and knee, my polo coat ends at the top of my shin.

  23. @GS

    Below the knee is full length. My camel polocoat falls at the bottom half of my shin and I’m 6″2,! If I were shorter it would look comical. I think the length of the RL polocoat today is more flattering when worn open and thats why I’m considering having my old one shortened to match what’s in the stores now.

    Put it this way… mine is this length which I think is too long… https://www.gentlemansgazette.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/02/Polo-Coat-Worn-Open.jpg

    The Brooks Brothers version however is far too short… https://cdnc.lystit.com/photos/2013/10/30/brooks-brothers-camel-golden-fleece-doublebreasted-polo-coat-product-1-14560513-240505641.jpeg

    I want something in-between.

  24. @Benjamin, I too am 6’2 and I like the length of my polo coat because it is the shortest acceptable traditional length. I would advise against truncating your vintage RL polo coat as that length is classic and personally I love that picture. How old is your polo coat?

  25. @Christian

    Sounds good.

    Will

  26. @GS

    My polocoat is from 2008-09 I believe. That picture references the length but seems to have much larger lapels than any other picture of the RL version. To be honest, the coat I have looks identical to the one the founder of this sites posts pictures of himself in while wearing a patchwork wool newsboy hat and smoking a pipe.

    I like how the coat looks closed with a suit and tie, but I find it looks a bit odd and largess when thrown on top of a casual outfit and left unbuttoned. The ideal would be to purchase a second coat in the newer fit but the $2500 they upped the coat to this year makes purchasing something I virtually already have seem frivolous.

  27. @Benjamin your best bet is to check eBay for old polo coats. It will be hard to come across a RL one but you still might find one. I bought a vintage Canadian-made polo coat for just 100$ which is a pittance for a 100% camelhair coat. If an RL one does pop up it might be more than 100$ but definitely less than 2500$. Also, did you buy your first polo coat new at a RL store?

  28. Somewhat related. Has anybody an idea where I may find a reversible rain coat? Standard tan London Fog style on one side and herringbone tweed on the other. Like the one Ryan O’Neal wore in Love Story.

    Will

  29. @GS

    Yes I bought mine new at the RL store and am on a first name basis with the guys on Michigan Ave in Chicago (I know, I know, I have a problem). While they won’t charge me anything and at least aren’t bias that way, they of course think I should shorten it for an “updated” look as the store clerks are more fashion-first than trad.

    If I were to look on eBay, I would be looking for the newer fit, not the older one which I currently own; making it much harder to find. However, because I’m not a 42 jacket, size medium or 32 waist, I do tend the have good luck with sales and things like that.

  30. @sacksuit aka Will.

    My father picked this one up from Brooks. After seeing it in person I may have to theft it from him. Mind you it is half off now…

    http://www.brooksbrothers.com/Black-Watch-Reversible-Trench-Coat/ML00414,default,pd.html?dwvar_ML00414_Color=BLUE&contentpos=15&cgid=

  31. @Benjamin

    Thanks, but not really what I had in mind. Tan, knee length with herringbone reversible lining.

  32. Actually, Brideshead Revisited was neither a BBC production nor a ‘miniseries’. Produced by Granada Television and aired on ITV, which was and still is the primary commercial terrestrial channel in the UK. The series consisted of 11 episodes of 100 minutes each.

  33. Thank you for clarification on terminology, though the episodes are not 100 minutes each. The first, possibly first two are longest. Later ones are 60 or even 45.

  34. Lorcan Dunne | June 14, 2017 at 12:01 pm |

    I saw this post when you posted it first and had to agree with everything in it.
    I finished grad school last September and got my first job and started saving with an eye to buying a navy polo coat in a year or two.
    Today in a thrift store I found new with tags that Ralph Lauren tweed polocoat in green 🙂

  35. I’ve been looking for a tweed polo coat from Ralph since you posted this. As luck would have it, I just picked up this fine specimen on the ‘Bay: http://www.ebay.com/itm/Handsome-Vintage-Polo-by-Ralph-Lauren-Barleycorn-Tweed-Overcoat-3-4-Length/132232981145?ssPageName=STRK%3AMEBIDX%3AIT&_trksid=p2057872.m2749.l2649

    To my eye, it’s a flecked Donegal tweed, but the seller was referring to it as “barleycorn.” Either way, I think it’s a beautiful jacket; and at $15, quite a steal.

    Good luck with your search, if you haven’t already found what you’re looking for.

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