It has been more than a hundred years since trench coats have become a fashion staple. And it looks like they are staying for at least a hundred years more.
Little wonder, really. A trench coat is a functional piece of clothing. Don’t you love it when the weather is a bit nippy? Don’t you feel so very cozy, all wrapped up in a thick trench coat while snow falls gently on the pavement?
But a trench coat is not all function. It is also about layering and adding another dimension to your ensemble. Indeed, the right trench coat will add a dash of magic to any outfit.
What Makes a Trench Coat, Well, a Trench Coat?
Trench coats were invented in the early 1820s, not during the First World War. But they got their military credentials because officers did use trench coats during the war. The trench coat served not only as functional outerwear but also a distinct mark of high rank.
Trench coats used to be more utilitarian than they are now. However, the pervasiveness of trench coats in iconic film scenes popularised and romanticized them until they became what they are now: functional but highly fashionable.
Even throughout their transition from overtly utilitarian to undeniably chic, trench coats have managed to retain their general look, with a few variations here and there.
Universal features include wide lapels, raglan sleeves, a belted waist, a storm flap or a pleated cape, a single vent at the back, and adjustable cuff straps. Some trench coats may also be double-breasted and waterproof or water-resistant.
When to Wear a Trench Coat
When should you wear a trench coat? As often as you want. Wear it all the time, why not? However, there is a wide variety of trench coat styles and designs. Moreover, trench coats vary significantly in length as well as materials used.
A sleeveless trench coat, for instance, maybe more appropriate in the summer or spring. While you may look good in one, even in the dead of winter, you will very likely freeze – and frozen is not a very good look.
A particular trench coat may work great with streetwear but may not look so wonderful when worn with a sheath dress. Yes, you can wear a trench coat even with formal attire, but it takes a unique type of trench coat to pull off that one.
If you have ever wondered which trench coat to wear in spring and summer or autumn and winter, or which one to wear for a casual day out, a business appointment, or a formal dinner, read on.
Choosing the Right Trench Coat
Choose a trench coat that looks great. That’s a given. Other criteria for choosing a trench coat include the quality of materials used and its craftsmanship.
Your trench coat should not only look great from afar. It should pass the closest of inspections as well. And it should not only look exquisite but also feel as remarkable as it looks.
Most importantly, the trench coat should look outstanding on you. Are you wearing the trench coat, or is the coat-wearing you? So, the fit is definitely a critical criterion. Next is fit for the season and occasion.
Autumn and Winter Trench Coats
When it’s cold out, go for warmth. Trench coats made of leather are especially warm. The classic wool gabardine trench coat is another great option. Check the lining, too. Wool makes an excellent lining for warmth.
And in the winter and autumn, when you need as much warmth as you can get, it would be best to go with long sleeves and a full-length hem (or as long as practical). Get as much coverage as possible, and stay toasty and warm while staying fashionable.
Trench Coats for Spring and Summer
When it’s spring or summer, you want more ventilation than you would in the winter or autumn. Thus, a sleeveless trench coat is a beautiful summer staple. Perhaps not for brisk spring days, but great for when the sun is out and shining.
Oversized trench coats are also an excellent choice for warm summer months or gentle spring days. A single back vent is a definite requirement. And of course, you want oversized, short sleeves and a short hem.
You want khaki, cotton, linen, blends, and other breathable fabrics in the summer or spring. Even if you choose something textured and heavy, check the lining. Make sure it is cotton or some other lightweight material.
Oh, and you may want to get a waterproof trench coat for those summer rains and spring showers.
The Casual Everyday Trench Coat
Military-inspired trench coats with a utilitarian vibe are an excellent complement to streetwear. A khaki or cotton trench coat is a good choice for a casual brunch, coffee date, or a full day of shopping.
To add to the casual vibe, you can leave the trench coat unbuttoned or not belted all the way through. The goal is to show the casual threads inside. Trench coats and denim jeans make a wonderful pairing.
Trench Coat for Office Wear and Business
Any high-quality trench coat will make a good addition to your work wardrobe. It all depends on your styling. To stand out, you can get a two-toned or a cutwork trench coat. You can also add a bit of whimsy with a fringe trench coat.
Dark and somber colors are an excellent choice for office wear, of course, but olive and tan make great color choices, too.
The Formal Evening Out Trench Coat
It should be easier to differentiate trench coats for formal and evening wear. Fitted and sleek silhouettes work best for formal wear.
If you’re wearing a fancy little number underneath, go for a knee-length trench coat. Go for something much longer if your dress is longer, of course. Definitely choose single-breasted, too.
When it comes to material and color, you want something light and romantic. Ivory and cream are a classic. With its subtle sheen and patina, a pony skin trench coat will work great with evening wear paired with white ankle strap pointed designer shoes.
Use Your Best Judgment
The trench coat is no fad, and it is a key piece of any great ensemble. It is a fashion statement, and it is an essential element of any woman’s wardrobe.
But trench coats vary widely in style, material, and design. Use your best judgment to choose the best trench coat for every season and reason.