August 27th, 2023
It Item

Toteme’s Single-Breasted Coat

I’ve started to swap beach coverups for coats on one of my rails, and realized while doing so that all of my wool coats are double-breasted. The only exception is belted. Weirdly, my trenches are single-breasted, but that’s for another post. I don’t need a cloth coat, but if I did, one of these Toteme car coats would be winging its way to me.

  • Handsome coat. I’m looking for exactly that shape in camel hair…!

    Susan WAugust 27th, 2023  10:35 AM

  • Funny, when I launched the post this morning, I included this one in camel by Proenza Schouler, then shifted the focus to just Toteme.

    PrestonAugust 27th, 2023  12:10 PM

  • My daughter is going to a University in Scotland. She came home for a few weeks over the summer and mentioned that she wanted a “car coat.” The “it” item for university students in the UK.

    KimAugust 27th, 2023  2:14 PM

  • I love coats like these. The simple shape and fit makes them forever pieces. Does anyone know where the term “car coat” originated? I usually think of a car coat as being a bit shorter than these, but I have no idea why.

    AprilAugust 27th, 2023  3:12 PM

  • For April, I would like to take a stab at the term car coat. I think it is a distinctly American term that dates exactly to the time when women and mothers began to get cars of their own and started driving for their shopping and errands. As a very young child, my mother didn’t have a car of her own. I clearly recall from an early age my mother referring to her car coats – this was in the late fifties and early sixties. Like most of the stay-at-home moms of the time, she didn’t have a car of her own for some years. Her outings with four children were a combination of walking, buggies, bicycles, roller skates, and for trips downtown, the city bus. Everything we did was close to home at that time – school, parks, tennis courts, swimming, ice cream, shoe repair, etc. Bread and milk were delivered to her doorstep. But once families started to become 2-car households, women/mothers suddenly did all their shopping and errands by car. The cut and the length of car coats perfectly suits the changes in women’s new lives. Getting in and out of the car requires a slimmer, shorter, less bulky coat but still reflected the style women were used to (no one wore puffy jackets or waist-length jackets unless doing sports). As I’ve often mentioned, I adore outerwear, adore wool coats, especially unlined, for their city polish. My mother’s other favorite coat style were her ‘boy coats,’ which were always camel, straight, lay-down collar (modified Peter Pan), very tailored – like something a little boy would wear to school (when children were dressed for school). The coats above are fabulous!

    PaulaAugust 28th, 2023  12:40 AM

  • P.S. to April ~ I also think of car coats as considerably shorter than the ones above, but definitely unlined as these appear to be. The one I bought last winter in Paris hits 2″ above my knee and the sleeve length is an inch above my wrist bone. With gloves it’s perfect.

    PaulaAugust 28th, 2023  12:57 AM

  • Paula, I was a child in the ‘60’s and ‘70’s and remember car coats, too. They were shorter, usually hitting mid thigh to upper knee. Your explanation of how car coats came into being was fascinating. In the southeast there’s only about a month where you need long heavy coats. Plus going from our house, to the garage, and then the car, a car coat fits the bill. Long coats that have been in style of late are extremely impractical for where I live and my lifestyle. Here’s hoping to see more car coats. Plus I remember my mom having trenches that were shorter as well, they hit mid thigh.

    RobynAugust 28th, 2023  5:50 AM

  • Thank you for the responses, ladies! As I said, I associated the term with a shorter coat, but didn’t really associate it with less bulk overall. What you say makes perfect sense. My recall my mom always referring to “car coats”, too, and I believe that is where I first heard the term.

    AprilAugust 28th, 2023  11:54 AM

  • As someone who grew up on the East coast these conversations about car coats vs long coats certainly resonated with me. However, I’ve have lived in Los Angeles for over 20 years and except for last winter I’ve never needed a coat warmer than a Barbor quilted jacket or a blazer. My long coat has been reserved for winter travel to cold climates. But after last winter I am on the hunt for a shorter 3/4 length coat. I’d love one similar to the Toteme above but in a shorter length. Preston, a post on shorter wool coats would be much appreciated.


    JanetAugust 28th, 2023  12:49 PM

  • As usual ‘Paula’ whoever this lovely person is, is spot on! Always enjoy her responses. I love the coats. Wish I needed a new one.

    DebAugust 28th, 2023  2:37 PM

  • I always think of this style of coat as a balmacaan, which is of Scottish origin. For me, a car coat falls just to the top of your legs, so less likely to get caught up when you’re jumping in and out of your driver’s seat. Never mind though because these are fabulous regardless of the moniker! Curious if they are soft or itchy in wool?

    CatherineAugust 29th, 2023  3:00 PM


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