The return of the longer-length jacket

Retro-inspired longer-length tailored jackets are back with pizzazz

Edward Sexton gabardine suit, £5,700
Edward Sexton gabardine suit, £5,700 | Image: Jamie Ferguson

The longer-length tailored jacket is finally stepping back onto the sartorial stage. While my favourite tailors have been heralding its return for some time, it can now be found in a multitude of ready-to-wear collections, referencing a spectrum of eras and exuding a zoot-suit swagger mixed with contemporary street cool. 

Fred Astaire wearing the iconic chalk-stripe suit that Anderson & Sheppard made for him
Fred Astaire wearing the iconic chalk-stripe suit that Anderson & Sheppard made for him | Image: Bettmann Archive

One tailor who has long been an advocate of this lengthier style is Edward Sexton. When he and Tommy Nutter were redefining sartorial codes in the 1970s, it was all about a longer “coat” (as tailors call them): Sexton’s signature “long, low and leafy” house format is usually about 31.5in on a 40R chest, compared to about 28in on more contemporary cuts. “It’s my DNA,” says Sexton. “I love a long, gracious line; it has a slimming silhouette.” Riding coats were his inspiration, stemming from his time at riding outfitter Harry Hall in the 1950s, and Sexton melded the look with a to-the-body fit that’s “soft and sexy with a firm shoulder”. Decades later the cut still looks smashing. Recent one-button bespoke styles (suit £5,700) or made-to-measure suit styles (£2,500) work well in light hues for summer and in dark flannels or pinstripes for formalwear. 

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“We do not cut our ‘coats’ and blazers long, but compared to recent fashions our coats are on the longer side,” says Anderson & Sheppard managing director Colin Heywood. I’ve always loved the tailor’s 1920s Hollywood slouchy style, such as the “drape” two-piece suit (from £4,932), a laidback look evocative of Gary Cooper. I also have my eye on a double-breasted jacket (suit from £4,932) that has the lengthy proportions of the tailor’s famous chalk-stripe suit created for Fred Astaire. 

From left: Cerruti cotton jacket, £2,065. Givenchy mohair/wool jacket, £2,000. Dunhill kid-mohair jacket, £1,795
From left: Cerruti cotton jacket, £2,065. Givenchy mohair/wool jacket, £2,000. Dunhill kid-mohair jacket, £1,795 | Image: Getty Images for Dunhill. Givenchy

And while Patrick Grant’s label E Tautz has been creating long-cut jackets for years, this season the handsome 40in low-button, sports-inspired jacket (£629) in Bower Roebuck wool is in a memorable peach/sky-blue/grey plaid. “Many men think a short jacket makes them look taller. The opposite is true. It can make them look stout,” says Grant. 

Anderson & Sheppard merino wool suit, £4,932
Anderson & Sheppard merino wool suit, £4,932

Things have gone long and wide at Paul Smith. “For so long all you could do with suit shapes was nudge them a little wider here, a little shorter there,” Sir Paul told me, clearly buzzing after his Paris show featuring longer-length mauve, lemon and hot-pink blazers (£945) with strong, boxy shoulders, lovely movement and a touch of street attitude, and 31.3in jackets (£945) in bold checks. All have a distinctive flow. “Lighter modern fabrics give these retro shapes new life,” says Smith. 

From left: E Tautz wool jacket, £629. Paul Smith wool blazer, £945. Giorgio Armani linen-mix jacket, £1,700
From left: E Tautz wool jacket, £629. Paul Smith wool blazer, £945. Giorgio Armani linen-mix jacket, £1,700

Meanwhile, Giorgio Armani revisits the long proportions he first adopted in the 1980s with fresh panache. New loose-cut “heritage” suits and jackets have a laidback, vintage flavour, and smart-casual standouts include jackets (£1,600) in grey, chevron jacquard or a wicker‑effect linen blend (1,700); suit jackets (£1,750) in basketweave linen-blend tartan; and others in a super‑slouchysilk/wool blend (£1,900).

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Cerruti’s long jackets are also informed by the brand’s archive silhouettes – in this case from the 1990s. A single-breasted, oversized, peak-lapel jacket (£2,100) is best worn open to play up “a softer, relaxed feel”, says chief creative officer Jason Basmajian. (There’s also a cool double-breasted, oversized version, £2,065.) At Dunhill, the longer-length jacket is given a streamlined, urbane look thanks to an olive 31.9in kid-mohair half-wrap jacket (£1,795) that drapes beautifully. Creative director Mark Weston also chose to go long for a silk-moiré double-breasted jacket (£1,795), which he said was part of “a rigorous exploration of classic forms and proportions in the silhouette”.

For a directional, edgy take, look to Givenchy, Gucci and Marni. At Givenchy, I love the pizzazz of the lilac peak-lapel mohair/wool suit jacket (£2,000) that hangs at 31.9in (and reminds me of Antony Price’s suits for Duran Duran’s Rio video), as well as the gorgeous black collarless cocktail-suit jacket (£2,300). Gucci’s eclectic remit includes a long 1970s-inspired slim ivory felt jacket (£2,140) with huge lapels. And Marni’s pistachio oversized jacket (£1,000) has the look of tailored loungewear.  

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