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The Trench Coat – A Century’s Witness

Trench Coat


In the ever-evolving world of fashion, where fleeting trends are numerous, the trench coat stands as a constant, embodying a blend of style and practicality. The history of this iconic piece, from its military origins to its integration into everyday wear, tells a story of adaptation and enduring appeal.

The trench coat’s story begins in the early 20th century, amidst the harsh conditions of World War I. Designed to meet the practical needs of soldiers, the coat provided protection against severe weather without sacrificing mobility and comfort. Its length offered protection yet was tailored to avoid hindrance in the muddy and wet conditions of the trenches. Adaptions such as the gun flap provided additional padding for recoil, while the D-rings were designed for carrying combat gear. These features highlight the coat’s roots in functionality and practical wartime necessity.

Burberry and Aquascutum played significant roles in popularizing this garment. Thomas Burberry, who founded his namesake brand in 1856, introduced the coat to British officers, utilizing the innovative, weatherproof fabric, gabardine. Aquascutum, having its roots in the 1850s, also lays claim to the inception of the trench coat. During the war, figures like Winston Churchill, known for his leadership and iconic style, were often seen in the coat, bringing attention to its utility and style.

As the war ended and the world ventured into an era of peace, the trench coat transitioned from the battlegrounds to the wardrobes of civilians. It’s transition to civilian life was marked by its visibility in the streets of post-war Europe. Veterans continued to wear their coats as a sign of pride and remembrance. The practicality and style of the trench coat were soon recognized by the public. Its waterproof yet breathable design made it popular for everyday wear, with the garment being increasingly spotted in urban centers far removed from the battlefields.

The trench coat’s iconic status was magnified through Hollywood’s lenses. In ‘Casablanca,’ Humphrey Bogart’s character, with collar upturned and a fedora gracefully tilted, marked an eternal image of the coat’s mystique. Audrey Hepburn in ‘Breakfast at Tiffany’s’ showcased its versatility, reflecting both strength and vulnerability, making the coat an emblem of complex, nuanced characters.

Trench Coat

Fashion houses like Chanel and Dior have reimagined the trench coat, adding signature touches and showcasing its adaptability. Karl Lagerfeld’s reinvention with leather and unique cuts, for instance, underscores the garment’s versatility. The incorporation of new fabrics and textures keeps the trench coat a central piece in global fashion narratives.

Today, the trench coat retains features rooted in its military past while seamlessly integrating into contemporary fashion. The double-breasted front and wide lapels are not just about withstanding harsh weather now but are celebrated elements of style. Fashion icons and everyday wearers alike appreciate the belt not just for its original purpose of securing equipment but for its role in accentuating the waistline, offering a blend of elegance and function.

Styling the trench coat extends beyond the classic approaches. While it impeccably complements suits and casual attire, exploring diverse pairings can accentuate its versatility. Avoid overly baggy and unstructured looks to maintain the coat’s signature elegance. For women, pairing it with a floral dress can underscore a mix of soft and structured elements. Men might consider a combination of chinos and a well-fitted shirt, ensuring a refined yet relaxed aesthetic.

The trench coat’s design evolution now encompasses the rise of gender-neutral fashion. New versions are not bounded by traditional masculine or feminine designs, embodying a universal appeal. This transformation is not just about aesthetic adaptability but also mirrors the broader societal shift towards embracing diverse identities. The contemporary trench coat, with its varied cuts, fabrics, and stylings, becomes a canvas reflecting inclusivity, embodying a fashion statement that is as progressive as it is classic.

As we move forward, this iconic piece of outerwear is likely to continue evolving, adapting to the needs and aesthetics of new generations. Yet, its core elements, rooted in a history of practicality and elegance, will likely remain unchanged. For those seeking a piece that bridges the gap between function and fashion, the trench coat is an ever-relevant choice.

We recommend trench coats from Burberry, Helmut Lang, Proenza Schouler, and Ralph Lauren for their quality and style. We are not affiliated with these brands and receive no commissions or incentives from any sales. Our recommendations are solely based on the product’s merit.