The trench coat is your most versatile outerwear item in winter. Buttoned up and over a suit, it can be a businessman’s go-to on a cold day. Belted and accessorised with a fedora and a pair of leather gloves, the trench is the uniform for film noir detectives and suave gangsters. The versatility of the trench coat is dynamic and it is not just an irresistible trend, but a fashion staple for winter.
Initially intended as a British military uniform, the trench coat has standard features: the appearance of two rows of five buttons when fastened to create the double-breasted front, wide lapels, epaulettes to display a military official’s ranking, a belt with metal D-shaped rings [which were used to attach military equipment and weapons], raglan sleeves [which allow for greater movement, specifically if you were using a sword during battle], and a gun flap at the back of the coat to protect the weapon from wet weather conditions.
The design of the trench coat dates back to the 19th century. John Emary first patented the waterproof textile, Aquascutum, used to create the trench coat in 1853. Thomas Burberry improved on the textile in 1879 by inventing Gabardine, a wool and cotton mix of fabric that is waterproof, crease-resistant and breathable. Yet it effectively insulates. Charles Macintosh, a Scottish inventor of waterproof fabrics, inspired both Emary and Burberry with his single-breasted, long, rubber raincoat, which was referred to as the Mac, an alternative name for the trench coat.
The weather-resistant properties and durability of the coats caused the British military to adopt the trench coat into everyday life. They served as a symbol of the servitude and patriotism of war veterans. However, when the British government handed out surplus stock, the trench coat was finally accessible to women.
A feminine fit
Women added fluidity to the trench coat by demonstrating how it could either be worn over an evening gown or a pair of jeans and a T-shirt. Femininity inspired fashion designers to go from basic beige to coloured leather, transparent plastic, animal prints, feather and fur. Now the trench comes in all shapes and sizes – from tightly fitted to oversized and even deconstructed.
The trench coat is a fashion heavyweight and in the realm of outerwear, it is unmatched. It serves its purpose by keeping you warm, finesses your look and its seasonal evolution caters to every style preference. Simply put, it is a quintessential necessity. How can the trench coat not have a place in your wardrobe?