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Swellboy on… the ‘change coat’

A disquisition on the subject of the ‘change coat’

Swellboy on… the ‘change coat’

Image: Brijesh Patel

January 27 2011
Nick Foulkes

It was Theo Fennell who introduced me to the term “half change”; I think it described the blazer that he was wearing over his morning suit trousers and waistcoat. Then again, it might have been referring to the tweed jacket that I was wearing over my white tie, Marcella waistcoat and evening trousers – I really cannot remember. I have hung on to that definition ever since and used it to great effect last year when I went straight from Ascot to an indoor go-karting circuit where I blended in perfectly by the simple expedient of swapping my morning coat for a double-breasted blazer. I was a bit worried that some of my fellow drivers might comment that my emerald tiepin clashed with my navy-blue blazer, but on the whole they were inclined to overlook this slight eccentricity.

Otherwise my use of half change was limited until speaking to John Kent, who has opened up a shop with my tailor Terry Haste. John started talking about the importance of the “change” coat. He was bemoaning the lack of interest among the young for a really good bold checked tweed – and he is right; for example, if one looks at the jeunesse dorée of Shepherd’s Bush, one seldom sees a decent tweed sports coat.

According to him, most of the tweed coats (jackets to you and me) he is asked to make are not worthy of the name and would more correctly be called “change coats”. John then embarked on a disquisition on the subject of the change coat and how, after a hard day at the stock exchange, a young married man might come home, cast aside his silk top hat and discard his frock coat in favour of a “change” coat made out of a herringbone or a bird’s eye or a nailhead, something relaxed into which he could change before sitting down to a cosy supper with the spouse.

This has of course opened up new vistas of sartorial expression; there are simply not enough interstitial garment opportunities these days and I look forward to wearing a “change coat” at home one evening very soon. I must just make sure to give the butler the evening off before attempting such a daring informality; I am still worried that he is going to haul me up in front of an employment tribunal, such was the shock I caused him when electing to wear a needlecord dinner jacket to enjoy a TV dinner the other day.

See also

People, Jackets