Originally created in the early 1900s, car coats were designed to protect drivers and passengers from the elements when riding in open-top vehicles. These early styles were often long and made from heavy fabrics like tweed or fur. In summer, lighter fabrics like cotton and linen were adopted to protect clothing from the dirt and dust on the road.
Fast forward to today, a car coat can be distinguished by these characteristics:
- - Straight collar
- - Buttoned or flat front placket
- - Single-breasted
- - Diagonal front welt pockets
- - Hip to mid-thigh length
- - One-piece back
- - A-line fit for ease of movement
At Gloverall, the car coat is a favourite, balancing both style and practicality. Made from a range of fabrics such as lightweight showerproof cotton or 100% wool herringbone cloth from English tailors Abraham Moon, it’s often ideal for Spring or Winter layering and protects from the cold and unpredictable weather.Find out more about the history of the car coat and where this classic piece got its name from, exclusively with Gloverall.
French racer Guy Bouriat, at the Nürburgring, 1925
The history of the car coat
Car coats became popular in the early 1900s when most cars were open top and required protective clothing.
Although functional, the car coat was also seen as a status symbol. It showed you owned or knew someone who owned an automobile which led to a lot of people often wearing their car coats outside the car. The style grew in popularity as cars became more affordable.
Cary Grant and Audrey Hepburn in Charade, 1963 // Stanley Donen
As cars changed to have roofs and heating, the car coat followed suit becoming shorter and lightweight. The style we recognize today is a mid-thigh length A-Line shape with a flat front. The shape allows room for movement, the length ensures there's no fabric getting in the way of using foot pedals and the flat front stops the coat from bunching and creasing when sat down.
Why is it called a car coat?
Car coat’s name can trace their roots back to their original function of protecting drivers and their passengers when automobiles used to be open top. To this day, the name has stuck given its connotations of sophistication and suave styling.
Our favourite car coats
For a modern twist on a classic, check out our Les Basics x Gloverall Le Car Coat. Part of our second exclusive drop with the contemporary menswear brand, this lightweight car coat features two contrasting colour panels and deep concealed side pockets for a minimal, streamlined look.