Whether you go traditional or with a twist, a trench coat is one of those capsule pieces that will always be in fashion.
As we wake up to the far-reaching cost of fast fashion, having good quality staples in your wardrobe that you return to time and again makes a whole lot of sense, not just for your style cred and your wallet but for the planet as well.
Once regulation uniform for serving soldiers, the trench has come a long way from its practical past. Pioneered by Burberry and Aquascutum to provide protection from cold and rain, modern reinterpretations have evolved from the classic beige style to embrace a range of colours, textures and lengths.
Military details preserved from its battlefield beginnings are still very much in evidence however, from buckled belts and epaulettes to roomy storm pockets and wrist straps. That perhaps is the essence of the trench’s appeal: it combines a chic silhouette with reliable functionality. Style meets substance.
We put a whole troops’ worth of trench coats through their paces to display just how much variety there is out there.
You can trust our independent reviews. We may earn commission from some of the retailers, but we never allow this to influence selections, which are formed from real-world testing and expert advice. This revenue helps to fund journalism across The Independent.
Rains belted matte-PU trench coat
We loved this sleek, matte, minimalist trench. Soft as butter and ultra-lightweight, it proved totally waterproof in a storm. Boasting ultrasonically welded seams and cuffs with poppers that allow for a tighter fit, no rain was getting past this. Also worth a mention are the beautifully-designed pockets that feature a covered opening. Suiting a more casual look, we could imagine throwing this coat over a pared-down weekend outfit. Another great selling point: it folds up small enough to pop into your bag in case of a change in the weather. If the black is a touch too minimal for you it is available in bubblegum-pink.
Buy now £125.00, Rains
Holland Cooper full length Marlborough trench coat
Working to take the twee out of tweed, Holland Cooper is celebrating the fabric’s renaissance with this coat. Made in England from pure wool, this trench makes a powerful statement with its extra-long length and luxurious heaviness. Double-breasted and with a wide belt, it fits beautifully to the body and is extremely warm. We could imagine the Duchess of Cambridge wearing this to an opening, it has quite the regal feel. The only disappointment lies in the buttons which don’t quite match the luxury of the rest of the coat.
Buy now £849.00, Holland Cooper
Norwegian Rain noir femme
We tested this on a day when it was bucketing down and remained as dry as a bone. The coat boasts a myriad of beautiful design details: it can be worn loose or cinched in via a pull cord at the back, eliminating the need for a belt. A magnetic closure at the neck can be worn two ways: high up to protect from wind and rain or lower on the chest. Made from recycled Japanese fabrics and with a cashmere lining, this is a well thought-out, gorgeous piece of design.
Buy now £559.87, Norwegian Rain
Ganni belted two-tone maxi trench coat
Designed to be worn oversized, this coat is right on-trend but is definitely not for those who are worried about adding any extra volume. Made from coated fabric, which gives it a very crisp feel, it can’t be washed (just sponged down when needed) which is far better for the planet than regularly using the washing machine. With extra-large pockets, and a two-tone belt that can be worn either way, this trench feels very much of the moment. A great high fashion option.
Buy now £390.00, Ganni
Arket trench coat
If you are looking for a classic trench to last for years we think you could do a lot worse than this sleek black number. It ticks all the boxes: smooth cotton, shell buttons, a collar that buttons up for extra protection from the elements, adjustable belted cuffs, a storm flap and buttoned vent at the back. We found it easy to wear and it goes with everything. This one is a real keeper.
Buy now £175.00, Arket
Boden Franklin trench coat
We loved the quirky details on this one. In a jewel-like emerald green, it features a contrast back and tie belt in navy blue and a lining decorated with Union Jacks. Turn up the collar against the wind and a vibrant red is revealed. The 100 per cent cotton feels of superb quality and extra kudos goes to the perfectly-positioned deep pockets. Showerproof rather than fully waterproof, this would make the perfect spring coat.
Buy now £160.00, Boden
River Island beige faux leather blocked belted trench coat
River Island takes the traditional trench and gives it a high street makeover. This is the rebellious younger sister of the classic beige heritage number. Good quality cotton on the body of the coat is trended up with faux leather arms, collar and belt; bling-y buttons; and zip pockets. We felt these additions worked well, resulting in a two-tone coat that is smart and looks cool. Complete the look with an elegant pair of long black boots.
Buy now £85.00, River Island
Topshop blue faux croc vinyl trench coat
Why not take those standard trench elements and mix them up with faux blue croc? This one will add a fun finish to your outfit and we loved it for its unexpected textural twist. Despite its daring elements it is very wearable and we liked the sizable pockets and tie belt. Incredibly you can even throw it in the washing machine. This colour is a lovely baby blue shade, but it also comes in ecru if you want to dial it down.
Buy now £79.00, Topshop
M&S goodmove waterproof parka
Although technically billed as a parka, when worn this is definitely more trench. Wind and rain proof, a number of other details really set it apart for us: tapered adjustable cuffs, an inner phone pocket complete with a slit which to feed your headphones through and a capacious hood. It forgoes a belt for an inner elastic cord (hidden behind a panel trimmed with electric blue grosgrain ribbon) that cinches in the waist if desired.
It actually first caught our eye on Instagram and is, dare we say it, more fashion forward than we’d expect from good old M&S.
Buy now £99.00, M&S
The verdict: Trench coats
We favoured the Rains belted trench for its easy-going style and lightweight practicality. Bringing a finishing touch of timeless chic to any outfit, we could see ourselves wearing it for years to come.
The M&S parka/trench was also a strong favourite thanks to its ability to protect against the elements while looking great. For those looking for an investment piece, we loved Norwegian Rain’s forward-thinking offering.