Introduction: Make a Classic Long Coat From a Modern Suit
The classic long coat was a staple of men's fashion around the turn of the century. Because of it's ubiquity, and versatility, it is now a major component to many great costume ideas.
- Victorian Re-Enactments
- Old West Gambler (Maverick)
- Abe Lincoln
- Circus Ring Master
- Steam Punk
- The Joker
- Classic Vampires
- Count Dracula
- Sweeny Todd
- Pride and Prejudice (and zombies)
- Riff Raff from Rocky Horror
- Robber Barron
Step 1: What You'll Need
You will need to start with a full suit, including jacket and pants. The pants don't need to fit, but the jacket does, unless you're handy with tailoring and alterations.
It is important that the pants match the jacket for color and material. There is a big difference in blacks across unmatched separates, so if you're shopping at thrift stores, I recommend bringing the jacket when you buy the pants, and vice versa. You may not be able to tell in low light, but in daylight, a mismatched pant and jacket are very obvious.
On to the cutting...
Step 2: Cut Them Off at the Legs!
Lay out the pants flat and even, and with a sharp set of scissors, cut straight across each leg, making sure to keep both legs as close to the same as possible.
Cut up one of the seam on each leg to open them up. My tux pants had a fancy shiny stripe on the outside that I wanted to keep as an embellishment, so I chose the outside seam to open up.
Step 3: Hemming and Sewing
With the material harvested from the pants, we can now attach them to the coat.
Hem the edge and top of the legs to make them clean and straight.
With the coat laid open and face down, set the leg pieces in place so they cover from the outside edge of the coat and meet in the middle. You'll notice my leg pieces have an angle at the top. This was how the hem naturally fell from where I separated it from the rest of the pant. I made an effort to line up the existing seam on the leg with the vertical seam in the jacket so it continues all the way down.
Pin the pieces in place and sew them on!
Step 4: The Butt Sticks Out!?
With the leg pieces attached to the coat, they will naturally hang at an angle that makes them stick out. To correct this and make them hang down, simply pinch the two leg pieces and coat in the middle, and sew them together from the inside.
You could also do this with two smaller pinches on either side, and sew a button at the top of the seam.
Step 5: The Length of a Long Coat
Now we have a coat with two pant legs hanging from the back. The final length of the coat will depend on two things, what makes sense for the costume, and the height of the person wearing it.
I hemmed mine to mid thigh, but a Victorian coat or ring master's coat would have longer tails that are not so square in the front. It's completely up to you!
Once the length is set, fold over the leading edge, and hem that as well.
Step 6: The Finished Coat
The finished look will of course depend on the character, but a smart vest and tie, with a turned up collar and top hat always looks good!