HOME > Fashion History >



Written by in Fashion History on the

The Timeless Charm of the Duffle Coat

The Duffle Coat, with its distinctive toggles and hood, has long been a symbol of classic style and practicality. Originating from military roots, this iconic outerwear piece has seamlessly transitioned from its utilitarian beginnings to a fashion staple cherished for its comfort, warmth, and timeless design. In this article, we'll delve into the rich history, key attributes, and notable brands that have contributed to the enduring popularity of the Duffle Coat.

A Brief History

The Duffle Coat's origins can be traced back to the military uniforms of Belgian, Polish, and British naval forces during World War I. Named after the town of Duffel in Belgium, where the heavy, coarse woollen fabric used in its construction was produced, the coat quickly gained favour for its durability and warmth in harsh weather conditions. In the post-war era, the Duffle Coat made its way into civilian wardrobes, becoming a symbol of anti-establishment counterculture in the 1950s and 1960s. Its association with the British Royal Navy and the surplus military market further elevated its status, propelling it into mainstream fashion.

Key Attributes and Characteristics 

1. Toggle Fastenings: The most recognizable feature of the Duffle Coat is its toggle fastenings. Typically made from wood or horn and attached by leather loops, these toggles offer a distinctive and practical closure method, allowing for easy fastening in cold weather. 

2. Hood: A generously sized hood, often lined with a soft, insulating material like wool or faux fur, adds an extra layer of protection against the elements. The hood is not only functional but also contributes to the coat's iconic appearance. 

3. Traditional Fabric: Authentic Duffle Coats are crafted from a heavy, dense woollen fabric known as duffel. This material provides excellent insulation, making the coat ideal for colder climates. Modern variations may use alternative fabrics for a lighter feel while maintaining the classic design. 

4. Knee-Length Cut: The Duffle Coat traditionally features a knee-length cut, offering extended coverage and warmth. This length, combined with the coat's roomy silhouette, allows for comfortable layering over winter clothing.

Notable Brands

Several brands have become synonymous with crafting high-quality Duffle Coats, each adding its unique touch to this timeless garment. 

1. Gloverall: Established in 1951, Gloverall is a British brand renowned for its premium Duffle Coats. Combining traditional craftsmanship with contemporary design, Gloverall's coats are made from the finest materials and boast impeccable tailoring. 

2. Original Montgomery: With a history dating back to the 1890s, Original Montgomery is another British brand celebrated for its Duffle Coats. Known for using authentic duffel fabric and maintaining the classic toggle design, their coats honour the heritage of this iconic piece. 

3. Burberry: The luxury British fashion house Burberry has also embraced the Duffle Coat, infusing its signature style into this classic silhouette. Burberry's take on the Duffle Coat often includes distinctive check-patterned linings, adding a touch of modern elegance.


The Duffle Coat's journey from military uniform to timeless fashion statement is a testament to its enduring appeal. With its distinctive features, rich history, and the craftsmanship of notable brands, the Duffle Coat continues to be a versatile and stylish choice for individuals seeking both warmth and classic elegance in their winter wardrobes. Whether you're navigating the city streets or embracing the great outdoors, the Duffle Coat remains a symbol of enduring style and practical sophistication.

Craig Landale

Previously heading up digital marketing at a large British menswear group, Craig founded Menswear Style 10 years ago. He currently steers the ship and has a keen interest for sustainable brands, product innovation, fashion startups and British manufacturing.

twitter  linkedIn  blog 
previous post
next post