A coat can make or break a man's game. Knowing the whys and wherefores, before buying a coat, can reduce the chances of making what will turn out to be a regrettable purchase.
For starters, for a man, a coat is a no-no if it looks like a prop that can be used in a television ad for Dumu Zas iron sheets. Fabric matters. A lot. When you are shopping for a coat, the words, "coat" and "shiny look" should not appear in the same sentence. The rule of thumb is, when you rock a coat, you should be dressed to kill: not to blind.
Again, fabric matters. A man's coat should not be made from a fabric that is used for curtains or ladies' blouses. Nope, gentlemen. Tawdry is not the name of the coat game. And do not even try giving me the excuse that you are making matching outfits with your wife for a wedding. You do not want to bump on cheeky kids in the 'hood, and they start singing to you that bawdry old song for matchy-matchy types: "Nguo kabilana/Moja inanuka ..."
Unless you are an old school pastor or a totally bleached out Lingala musician, you should never be caught dead wearing a coat with that tell-all label on the sleeves. Snip the darn tag as soon as you pay for the coat. I know you want to show off to your mates. That label isn't helping matters. Fashion buffs can tell haute couture from knockoff by just one passing glance.
Red coats are for pimps. That is all I am going to say about that. Is it a long coat or a coat that is long? Long coats, if the cut is right, can make perfect fashion statements. On the other hand, a coat that is long has no place in a man's wardrobe. Again, only some pastors are allowed to wear coats that are long. You doubt me? Check out Prophet Owuor's wardrobe.
A coat should fit, and not necessarily be tight-fitting. You are not a mannequin. You will be up and about. Which is why you want to have breathing space, and the buttons should not look like, if you sneeze, they will snap off and send an innocent bystander to Kikuyu Eye Hospital.
With a coat, occasion matters. But Kenyan men do not obey, even when an invite expressly indicates that it is a morning coat, tuxedo or sports' coat affair. The terms can be confusing, and in a society where dressing codes are rarely obeyed, faux pas are always the order of an event. Still, you want to be on the safe side, lest fashion cops come calling.
Not all brothers can afford to go to Nick Ondu or John Kaveke for those sartorial numbers. As such we have to do with off-the-rack purchases. Which means that you will rarely get a coat that fits like a dream. I gleaned this trick from a men's magazine: when buying a previously-owned or off-the-rack coat, inwardly cup your hands below the coat's hem. If the hem "gathers" at your hands, the coat is several sizes too large. While wearing the coat, put pressure on the shoulders by pushing them against a flat surface. If the shoulders "cave in", the coat is too large.
See the jetted pockets with flaps? They were not made for you to carry your stuff. That is why they are stitched. When you are rocking a coat, these pockets should be flat. Gents, this brings me to the breast pocket. It is not for displaying your range of colourful pens. If you do not have a pocket square, give that poor pocket a break.
Coats come with several don't-try-this-at-home rules. Like, do not try washing a coat at home. Do not try changing a two-button into a three-button. Do not take it to your tailor for adjustments because it is ill-fitting.
The only guy who is allowed to do up all his coat buttons is a stiff inside a coffin. There are actually rules about how men should button their coats. When in doubt, ask the know-it-all: Uncle Google.