Style Advice / February 29th, 2016
Men’s Trench Coat | A Man’s Guide
The term icon gets thrown around often in men’s style.
The latest trends become glamorized and highly touted as mandatory purchases for the man looking to gain recognition for their style.
While trends do have their place, they often take a back seat to the real icons of menswear.
I’m talking about something as elegant and timeless as the men’s trench coat.
The men’s trench coat is rich in history while also blessed with having a bright future. Having strong characterizations at both ends of the style spectrum should give you an understanding why the trench coat is labeled with a striking term such as an icon.
If you don’t have a trench coat hanging in your closet right now but are interested in learning about this timeless garment, you have come to the right place.
I’m going to highlight why a coat so historic is still very relevant for the modern man of luxury. In fact, I would say the trench coat is a top 10 item to invest in.
I’ll even put my money where my mouth is (probably the main reason I’m writing this article today). Given that it’s now March, I’m currently in the market for a trench coat myself. The research I’m doing for this article is helping me just as much as I’m hoping it helps you.
Like I said earlier, the men’s trench coat is rich with history. How rich? Let’s start off by diving into its history to find out.
The History of the Trench Coat
Just like the cardigan, the trench coat has its origins tied heavily to the Crimean war. While there are other references that differ from the one I’m about to lay out below, I feel this is the most common one.
Given that the essence of a typical trench coat is nothing more than a rain coat, it only made sense for it to be used for practical purposes. This is exactly what the British military did, producing the trench coat in large number dating all the way back to 1853. There is also mention that the trench coat was used in the American Civil War shortly after.
Back in earlier times, the military had a high influence to the general public and not surprisingly, the trench coat caught on, first with celebrities and then with the average towns folk.
However, the highest influence came from none other than Thomas Burberry. Just an apprentice at the time (1856), Thomas Burberry opened a men’s outerwear shop in Basingstoke and looked to create a new type of overcoat using fabrics that didn’t shrink when wet. Within a short time, the new type of overcoat from Thomas Burberry was gaining more and more market share. As you can see at present time, the Burberry trench coat continues to dominate the market.
The trench coat of old came in two distinct colors: Khaki and beige and are still the most widely recognized.
Once the trench coat was seen in the movie Casablanca (another icon) It helped solidify itself as a men’s staple….quite possibly for eternity.
Types of Trench Coat Fabrics
When I first began learning about the trench coat, I had the weird assumption that cotton was the only real variety.
Well I was wrong.
There are a few types of fabrics that you can choose from. Here are the most common:
The classic trench coat is the one invented by Thomas Burberry himself. Nothing other than 100% cotton gabardine will do. This type of cotton is tightly woven, which makes it highly durable without weighing the wearer down.
The cotton gabardine fabric is also waterproof.
Popular in the past and making a comeback, rubberized trench coats are highly durable and water resistant.
On the downside, the rubberized trench coat is rather heavy and lacks flexibility. A great choice for some but not one I would invest as my go-to.
Another option is to go with a leather trench coat. It’s not as easy as it once was to find a leather trench coat but they are quite popular in online shops.
I tend to find more color varieties with leather compared to the traditional cotton version. If you like some flash, leather may be more your thing.
When to Wear a Trench Coat
If you’re reading this article close to when I released it, you’re in luck. The tail end of winter and the beginning of spring are excellent times to wear the trench coat. Fall is also an ideal time for regular use. To put it another way, the trench coat is versatile enough to wear in all but extreme weather seasons.
If you’re more concerned about environment, you still don’t have much to worry about. The trench coat looks great dressed up or down. I see many men wearing a classic trench on their way to the office or those nights out with the guys having a few cocktails.
Anything worthy of the title “icon” should be versatile and this describes the men’s trench coat perfectly.
What Trench Coat Length Is Right for Me?
Great question and to make things easy for you, the answer is pretty black and white.
For the Shorter Gents
Typically anything above the knees will look good and help you avoid seeming shorter than you are. A tip I find useful is to stick with a length that falls between your waist and knees.
For the Taller Gents
The opposite is the better approach for the taller men out there. Knee length and below work really well for men taller than 5’10 and actually make you look taller than you are.
Either way, there is a trench coat out there for you. Last thing – Don’t downplay the importance of confidence as it provides that last layer of still fit and length alone cannot replicate.
What Colors Work with the Classic Trench Coat?
While there are quite a few ways to wear a trench coat, here are my two favorites:
The Dressed Up Version
Black pants and a tailored white dress shirt. Throw on a black tie that matches the shade of black of the buttons on your trench coat to make the look more formal. Talk about sleek.
The More Casual Version
The same look as the above but lose the tie and swap out the black dress pants for a pair of well-fitted blue denim. A great look when out and about during the day running errands or a casual day in the office.
While there are many pieces of clothing that should be a part of your wardrobe, I hope I was able to convince you that the men’s trench coat should be one of them.
A good trench coat isn’t cheap but what high quality item is? Do yourself a favor and splurge on a high quality trench that will provide you with years of enjoyment.