The balmacaan coat takes its name from the Scottish estate near Inverness where it is said to have first appeared in the 1800s. Traditionally, it was made as a long and loose fitting unstructured coat. This may be attributable to its original inspiration: the ancient tartan wrap-garments that have been worn by Scottish Highlanders for centuries. Basically, one day a Scotsman thought to put sleeves on the blanket he was wearing and thus, the balmacaan was born!
We prefer a cut that’s more trim (yet straight) and at a contemporary length that will work just as well over tailoring as it does with a sweater and jeans. Like the original, our take features practical design details like a Prussian collar that can be turned up to protect against the elements and buttoned sleeve straps that fasten to keep out the wind and rain. Slash pockets allow its wearer to comfortably rest and warm their hands while the hidden “fly-front” prevents buttons from getting snagged in the brush. Although, you’re probably more likely to enjoy it for it’s simple and minimalist aesthetic.
The balmacaan features raglan sleeves as opposed to the set-in shoulders seen on most coats today. This not only enables you greater range of motion but also protects against water penetrating the coat by eliminating the shoulder seam.
This makes the balmacaan model an excellent choice for a raincoat, in which case we’d recommend the tightly woven cotton gaberdines now offered by Dormeuil and Loro Piana, or the ultra-breathable plain weaves supplied by Holland & Sherry. (Your stylist will know the ones).
The balmacaan coat pictured here was made using Donegal Tweed from W. Bill. Mr. William Bill was among the first to recognize the value of the rich tones and flecking typical of Donegal Tweed – a reflection of the gorse heathers and lichens on which the colors were originally based. Woven from 100% pure new wool at 15.5oz./yard, a coat like this will wear beautifully and last a lifetime. What’s more, the addition of a quilted Thinsulate™ lining is sure to keep you extra warm. (Bet those Scottish Highlanders wish their blankets had that…)
Photographs courtesy of HeSpokeStyle.com