Now that winter is upon us and the wind is whipping my hair (which is then sticking to my lip gloss) I’ve begun my search for a winter coat. I do have many coats in my collection, but what I’m really looking for this year is a knee length warm dressier jacket. Something I can wear to work and look professional in, but something I could also say, bring on a possible trip to Vienna this winter and still look trendy.

I’ve always wanted a toggle coat and I know that Burberry is the creme de la creme of the toggle genre. So, here is my dream jacket, but at $795 it does break the bank a bit:

You’ll notice if you go the the Burberry site their coats with toggles are named Duffle coats, the particular one in question is the Minstead Duffle. When I did an online search for “toggle coat” I came up with a minimal amount of results. So, being curious about the history of toggles I went on to Wikipedia, which taught me that the proper name is indeed “Duffle Coat.”

Duffle (this is the British spelling) is a coarse, thick woolen material, that was also used to make the bags of the same name. Duffle is actually a small town in the province of Antwerp Belgium, where the material originates. The coats are a traditional British item, introduced in 1890 when John Partridge, an outdoor clothing manufacturer, started to make coats out of the duffle fabric.

According to Wikipedia, a traditional duffle coat is composed of the following features:

  • Made of genuine Duffle, lined with a woolly tartan pattern (Burberry coat, duffel fabric, not sure, tartan pattern, check)
  • A hood and button neck strap (check)
  • Four front wooden toggle-fastenings (known as “walrus teeth”) with four rope or leather loops to attach them (check)
  • Two large outside pockets with covering flaps (check)
  • 3/4 length (check)

The wooden toggle fastenings were made to be easily fastened and unfastened while wearing gloves in cold weather at sea, BRILLIANT! And, the over-sized hood is made to be worn over a naval cap. On that note, the coat owes its popularity to the British Royal Navy, who issued it as an item of warm weather clothing during World War I and again during World War II. Then, in the 1950’s and 1960’s large stocks of post-war military surplus coats became available to the general public and thus became a new cold weather trend, how do you like that Anna Wintour!

So, now begins the waiting period. Do I hold out and hope that the Burberry jacket goes on sale, or do I find a similar one elsewhere? This one from Delia’s is actually kind of tempting.

Oh the woes of staying warm and being trendy all at the same time. Maybe I can give the Royal Navy a call…

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