Ulster Coat

AKA: 

How to say it:

Traditional Features: 

Ulster C

  • notched lapel (in such a way that it is often called an Ulster Collar)
  • knee – calf length
  • double-breasted with 6 or 8 buttons
  • made from Donegal Tweed
  • half belt at the back
  • patch pockets
  • proper cuffs
  • can have a hood and/or cape
  • contrast stitching on edges and cuffs

Origins…

…of the style: The Ulster began as a heavy, men’s overcoat in the late 1860s mostly worn by Irish men in the countryside. It was roomy, warm and almost waterproof and started off as a long, single or double-breasted, belted coat with a detachable hood, and a particular collar with notched lapels that buttoned up close to the throat to provide extra protection from the elements. In the 1870s a cape became a common addition to the coat and the appeal of the Ulster as a good quality overcoat caused the style to cross over into women’s wear.

When 1975 came around a ticket pocket was added to the left sleeve above the cuff and by 1890 the buttons had been hidden by a fly-front closure. However, these days, the traditional definition of an Ulster lists it as a double-breasted, tweed coat with 6 or 8 buttons, so the fly-front style didn’t stick. Towards the end of the century the Ulster found its way into the high end wardrobes of the British Empire and the Americas – no gentlemen’s wardrobe was complete without it.

Since then, the Ulster has not been particularly popular. It is still seen in bespoke tailors studios and on the occasional vintage dresser, but has not graced the catwalk (particularly in women’s wear) in many a year.

…of the name: The coat is named for the tweed fabric it was originally made from that was manufactured in the county of Ulster in Ireland.

For more info on Ulster Coats, try The Gentlemans Gazette, Put This On, Wikipedia or The Fairchild’s Dictionary of Fashion.

Random Facts

  • Sherlock Holmes is know for wearing an Ulster. His version had a cape.
  • a lightweight version of an Ulster is called an Ulsterette

21st Century Ulster Coats

There aren’t a lot of traditional Ulster Coats out there at the moment, however certain features, such as the collar and patch pockets, have made their way to some of the most on trend coats of the season.

BLK DNNM NYC Isabel Marant Vince 2 Vince

Top Row – BLK DNM NYC, Isabel Marant

Bottom Row – Both Vince

 

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