You’ve probably been told countless times that every well-stocked wardrobe should contain a trench coat. I’d agree with that. Each spring and autumn, it’s touted as a wardrobe essential. That they’ve been sported on screen by everyone from Catherine Deneuve and Madonna to Peter Sellers as Inspector Clouseau only adds to their allure.
The trench has endured as a style classic because its design is rooted in practicality. Burberry, Mackintosh and Aquascutum all claim to have invented the lightweight, waterproof belted coat with roomy pockets, but it was Burberry that first made them for the British Army circa 1901. They became known as ‘trench coats’ during the First World War, when they were worn by officers on the front line.
I’d caution you against choosing one that’s too safe. Having once owned a black, mid-length iteration, I can tell you there’s a fine line between classic and boring. On the other hand, it doesn’t need to be too crazy, but a twist of some sort can inject a little personality and playfulness into your look. Think of your trench as the hero piece you can toss over anything.
‘Consider a floor-sweeping length or a slightly oversized silhouette,’ says Melissa Dick, chief creative officer of Hush, which will launch outerwear with exactly these attributes next week.
‘This is the difference between being contemporary, rather than boring, this winter.’
Colour can also play a part. For men, there’s a deep teal double-breasted style at Muji, or a rather Gallic blue chore jacket-like mac at Universal Works. For women, the classic sandy beige trench does go with everything, but & Other Stories’ offering has a black panel running down the front, which sets it apart without being too ‘out there’.
If you live in wide-legged jeans, a belted trench adds definition at the waist. If you love midi skirts and dresses, consider a cropped hip-length trench (House of Dagmar has a great one), or an extra-long version, the hem of which should be a fraction longer than that of your dress (Aligne is great for this). Anything in between looks a little off.
Choose wisely and you’ll possess a distinctive-yet-timeless trench that can be worn over almost any outfit you please. Now, and well into the future, too.
Wool trench jacket, £450, House of Dagmar
Wool blend, £299, Universal Works at End.