Nearly forty years after first watching it with my dad, The Guns of Navarone is still one of my favorite movies. For me, it’s the nearly perfect blend of action, suspense and great acting. But it wasn’t until recently that I really started paying attention to the film’s wardrobe. Nazi uniforms aside, if you want inspiration for your heritage workwear style, look no further than Gregory Peck, David Niven, Anthony Quinn and the rest of the crew in disguise as Greek fishermen.
And even though it only makes a brief appearance, one of my favorite pieces is the Royal Navy standard issue duffel coat that both Peck and Niven wear on the deck of the destroyer at the end of the film. To get all the details on this classic piece of outerwear, head over to BAMF Style and read their excellent analysis of the entire look.
A little bit about the Duffel Coat …
For some history on the duffel, I’ll refer once again to BAMF Style …
“… the duffel coat derives its name from the Belgian seaport town in Antwerp where the coarse, heavy woolen fabric originated in the early 19th century. By the 1890s, it had been adopted by the British Royal Navy, who issued these “convoy coats” in a camel shade of khaki through both major world wars. Though it was fielded and authorized to a greater degree by the RN, the duffel coat maintains its association with one of the most famous British Army officers, Field Marshal Sir Bernard Montgomery, resulting in its ‘Monty coat’ nickname.”
By the 1950s, the duffel coat had outgrown its military origins to become a staple in many men’s cold weather wardrobes in both England and America. And, with the exception of an added zipper here or a trimmer cut there, it’s basic design hasn’t changed in the decades since. For example, the duffel coats worn by Jack Nicholson and Art Garfunkel in the 1971 film Carnal Knowledge look almost identical to the one Sean Connery wore in 1990 film The Russia House.
Features Wanted for the Duffel Coat
- Wool or wool-blend cloth. The most traditional colors are camel and navy. But there are plenty of other options out there now if you’re feeling more adventurous.
- Mid-thigh to knee length.
- Three or four toggle front closure. The toggles can be made of horn or wood and can be attached to the jacket with rope or leather straps. Some models now come with extra buttons or a zipper closures. Neither are really an issue as long as the toggles are the principal way to close the coat.
- Two large patch hip pockets. The pockets can be open or flapped (your preference). Some models now come with jetted handwarmer pockets higher up on the front. They’re not traditional, but some of you may appreciate them.
- Detachable hood? Integrated hood but no collar? I’ve added alternatives for both below, so I’ll leave it up to you.
- Gun flaps on the shoulders. Again, some more contemporary models leave them off. But they are definitely part of the classic design.
Two things I’d like to discuss before getting to our alternatives. First is fit. Despite more contemporary cuts, today’s duffel coats are still meant to be worn a little oversized. Not as baggy as Monty wore his back in World War II. But they were never meant to look like a tailored piece of outerwear.
Second is where to get one. Obviously, the options I’ve listed below are new. But there are some amazing deals to be found on Ebay for barely used coats from heritage brands like Burberry and Gloverall. And don’t forget to check out Army/Navy surplus stores if you want the real deal!
Best Option for the Duffel Coat
As mentioned in BAMF Style’s article, Montgomery was established in 1896 and describes itself as, “the oldest surviving company chosen by the British Admiralty in the early 1890s to make the first duffle coats.” So there’s definitely a considerable amount of history behind the label. And their Classic Fit Duffle Coat, based on a design from the 1950s, is probably one of the best deals on the market.
Available in five classic colors, the coat is made in England from an Italian double sided 70% wool/30% polyester blend. They’ve finished it with details like genuine horn toggles on leather straps and internal adjusters on the hood. If you’d prefer something in a trimmer fit, you should check out Montgomery’s Soho Elegance models in navy or camel for the same price.
I’ve linked to Amazon U.S. and UK above, where they have the navy, camel and charcoal options available. But you’ll find even more alternatives on the Montegomery website, including different colors and the option to go with wood instead of horn toggles.
Nautica Hooded Wool Toggle Coat: $122.45 to $129.99
A slightly more modern design in 56% wool/44% synthetics fabric treated with a water resistant coating for those drizzly late fall days. I’ve used the photo of the “Olive” color above, but it’s also available in Black and Camel. Amazon currently has sizes small to XXL in stock. But some of the reviews advise sizing up, especially if you’re going to layer it over a sport coat or suit.
A slimmer, more contemporary cut from the Barcelona based clothing brand. This one uses a 53% wool/47% synthetics blend and cotton/polyester liner which should make it a little easier to slip on and off over sweaters and jackets. The Mango U.S. website has the medium brown in sizes small to XXL. Over on the UK site, you’ll find the medium brown and the navy (but only sizes large to XXL). Just remember that Mango fits very slim!
Hockerty Duffle Coat: starting at €189.00
We mentioned Hockerty before as a source for a 007-style trench coat in our 7 Essential Bond Jackets for Fall post. Turns out they also offer a pretty nice duffel coat at a reasonable price. As with their trench coat, you have the option of customizing this one. So you can start by choosing from 24 different fabric. Most are a 50% wool/50% polyester blend, but you can step up to 100% wool and double sided options or even a wool/cashmere blend if you’re willing to pay a premium. You can also select the lining, choose toggle-only or toggle and zipper closures, and a belted back with or without vents if that’s your thing. Of course you can also tweak the measurements to get exactly the fit you want. The basic model shown above with the genuine horn toggles goes for €234.00.
A shorter more contemporary take on the classic coat. Farah has gone with a 49% wool/51% synthetics fabric (with a bit of cotton thrown into the mix) and wooden toggles. Note that the hood on this one is fixed. So no “popping the collar”. ASOS has sizes XS to XL in stock and remember they offer free shipping worldwide.
Gloverall Morris Duffle Coat: £399.00
About as classic as it gets from a true heritage brand. Made in England, the Morris offers a longer, more “vintage fit” in an 80% wool/20% polyamide Italian fabric. The coat is finished with genuine horn toggles at the front and on the cuffs. Gloverall has seven color options in sizes XS to XXL on their site. But I’m not sure about ordering from them for the U.S.
If you want a coat that really captures that “The Guns of Navarone” spirit, take a look at their Original Monty Coat for £450.00. And if you’re willing to give up your email address, you can also check out the Gloverall Outlet site. They still have some sizes left in their Classic Mid Length Duffle Coat in Navy/Blackwatch for £262.50.
The Investment Pieces
And now for the classic American version. Which looks pretty much the same as the English one. Brooks Brothers has gone with a double-sided 100% wool fabric and real horn and leather toggle closure, backed up with a zipper. The reviews also state that the hood can be removed, which is a nice feature. Sizes small to XXL are available on their website. But some of the comments recommend sizing down.
I can’t really do a post on duffel coats without including a Burberry. Afterall, it’s what Kevin’s dad wore in Home Alone! Anyway, their “Classic” model is made from an 80% wool/20% polyamide double sided fabric, with their famous Nova Check pattern on the inside. The toggles are 100% beechwood on marine-style rope. I’ve linked to Farfetch here, where they have Italian sizes 44 to 60 in stock.
Have a great option for the iconic duffel coat? Tell us about it in the comments! You can also visit our Facebook page, Instagram account, Twitter account and Pinterest Boards for more James Bond style advice and inspiration! And don’t forget to check out our Amazon Page. That’s where we’ve organized the James Bond and Steve McQueen alternatives we’ve found the massive online retailer.