What do Belle and Sebastian, Paddington Bear and Oasis have in common? They’re all famous duffle-wearers of course! Coats don’t get more iconic than the duffle with its toggle fastenings, patch pockets and oversized hood. The now-famous style is said to originate from Polish military dress, as far back as the 1820s. The practical style – with its hood large enough to fit over a military cap, easy fastening (for wearing gloves) and ample storage in the pockets – spread quickly through Europe in the 19th Century, and was made famous in WW2 by Field Marshall Montgomery. After the war, surplus stock was widely available and became popular with the younger generations in the 1950s and 60s, synonymous with Beatnik style.
Originally the coat was made from ‘duffel’, a coarse, thick woollen fabric originating from the Belgian town of the same name. Thankfully production methods have moved on and these days duffles are as tactile and cosy as their other high street coat counterparts. As well as the fabric, the duffle has gone from military-inspired to modern with an array of bright colours like this red version from Boden. What with its ultra-cosiness, practicality and traffic-stopping colour, my duffle will certainly see me through the dullest days of Scottish wintertime.
And is there anything more Christmassy than a red coat? Aptly named – before a now-famed Christmas advert for a certain high street brand – my ‘Mrs Claus Coat’ by friends and family. For my red duffle’s first outing I couldn’t resist ramping up the festive factor by pairing it with this beautiful, classically Christmassy, Fair Isle jumper. I adore it – its graphic pattern brings the traditional style up to date, while the wool and cashmere mix is hygge incarnate. A staple pair of go-with-everything black denim dungarees (sadly now out of stock, but I’m considering squeezing myself into these) and suede ankle boots finished off this weekend look. I’ve worn both non-stop since they arrived; they make everything look that bit more put together.
For the coat’s next outing, I wanted to briefly show you how the duffel can work for… work! I know it’s seen as a more casual style, but if you add in a tailored piece and elegant jumper, it can easily adapt as part of your Winter workwear wardrobe. I paired the duffle with a herringbone tweed pencil skirt (warning: it gives you quite the wiggle!) and button jumper for a smarter spin on duffle style. Have you tried a duffle before? How would you wear it?
Look 1: Coat, dungarees, jumper and boots c/o Boden plus vintage accessories; look 2: skirt, jumper and bag c/o Boden – again, plus vintage accessories!