Ah the classic trench coat, synonymous with the cynical detective of Film-Noir, the dark anti hero from a gothic teen novel, the chic sophistication of Audrey Hepburn in ‘Breakfast at Tiffany’s‘ and how could we forget Inspector Gadget‘s camel trench filled with all his technological gadgetry.
It’s origins lie in the 19th Century where it was worn as military outer wear and has since evolved into a classic British staple that every woman should have in her wardrobe. But, what exactly is so special about this seemingly plain, unadorned formal looking coat?
Well, firstly for those of us that live in the ever changing weather system that is Britain, the trench coat is without doubt the best thing to have ever happened to us. We get lots of rain; FACT, but it’s nothing the trench can’t handle, as this sturdy waterproof cover up literally repels rain like water off a ducks back. Oh and best of all, it doesn’t look silly with wellies!
The unpredictable British weather means that one minute it can be hot and the next it’s freezing, but what makes the trench so versatile is that it can handle both of these conditions simply by being layered accordingly. The classic design means that it is NEVER going to go out of fashion, you just need to know how to style it in order to get the most out of this timeless wardrobe essential.
The Autumn/Winter 2015 catwalks were rife with unique takes on the trench coat:
Dries Van Noten opted for a dark, dramatic velvet number with rich Bloomsbury print, which would be perfect as an evening cover up and shakes off the association of a trench coat being confined to the workwear wardrobe.
Phillip Lim went for a short denim design with multiple layers around the shoulders to create a cape-like effect that could be just as easily styled up with some heels or styled down with some Converse.
High street stores Zara and Marks & Spencer have chosen more of a classic style in neutral shades of tan, cream and beige or for those of you that do want to wear a trench into the office, Reiss have a smart casual, wide lapel navy option that oozes professionalism.
The fashion house most associated with the trench coat has got to be Burberry. The classic Burberry trench coat has an unbeatable quality and craftsmanship that has made it the style icon it is today. It is now over 100 years old and is still just as fashionable as ever with celebrity fans including Alexa Chung, Cara Delevingne and Emma Watson. With more than 180 hand-made stitches, the infamous Burberry check lining, epaulettes, gun flap, metal D-rings, storm shield and constructed from gabardine; a breathable, weatherpoof, durable fabric first invented in 1879 by Thomas Burberry, a Burberry trench may seem the obvious choice for some, but it will literally last you a lifetime and is an investment well worth making. Our personal favourite is the Kensington, a short Heritage trench coat that gives a modern twist with it’s tailored lines and tapered waist. It is available in four different colours; Honey, Black, Navy, Stone and, our personal fave, Parade Red, and comes complete with buffalo horn buttons and the iconic check undercollar.
If you can’t quite stretch to the £1,095 price tag of a Burberry then here is our pick of the best trench coats available on the high street.
River Island have this Leather Look Faux Fur Collar Trench Coat for just £95. Featuring leather look fabric, faux fur lining, oversized lapels, belted waist, zip fastening and twin side pockets this short length trench would look amazing with biker boots and some attitude.
H&M have a gorgeous softly tailored trench coat at the much more bargain price of £49.99. Made from beige imitation suede with buttons down the front, a wide collar, tie belt and patch pockets at the front this wardrobe staple is perfect for the transitional season.
The pastel grey cotton blend trench coat from Mango has loops both on the shoulders and on the cuffs, with two side pockets and a belt buckle fastening. This is ideal if you fancy something more classic in style but want a fresher, less obvious colour.
And finally, if you are on a tight budget, New Look have a range of trench coats that offer something a little bit different. The dark grey contrast trench from featured designer First & I is priced at £35, but with contrasting detail on the collar and sleeve and a sophisticated simplicity it would suggest you are wearing a much more opulent coat. Also, from First & I and also priced at £35 is this rather unique rust version. The perfect autumnal tone to wear with a roll neck knit and skinny jeans. And finally, from New look comes this camel drape sleeveless trench coat, the cheapest of the lot at £24.99. The casual fit, open front design can be worn as a light cover up on warmer days or layered over a warm knit when the weather starts to turn.
So, you’ve chosen your trench now how to style it.
The trench coat is a style statement in itself, so it would be a shame to let it blend into the background. You either need to make it the headline act or in compliment with the rest of your outfit. Think about the colours you wear; do you tend to choose monochromes, pastel, tones or do you wear neutrals. This will determine what colour trench coat you would be best suited to buying; the one that you are likely to get most wear out of. At Gowns and Heels we love brights and therefore love the idea of the ruby red, emerald green and bright yellow offerings that are out there at the moment, but equally there are fantastic benefits to owning a black trench that can be livened up with colour pop accessories. And with autumn on our doorstep there is much to be said about a beige trench coat that can be styled with rich earthy browns and burgandys. We say, if you’ve got the money invest in a couple of different colours, but if you can just afford one then you are best off choosing either black, stone or beige for complete versatility.
For a casual, street style daytime look wear your trench open at the waist with jeans, trainers and a crisp white shirt or t-shirt. Try also experimenting with sleeve length by rolling them up to create a student vibe. Trench coats can pretty much suit every body shape and simply by fastening the belt, anyone can have an hourglass silhouette. If you want to create a nipped in waist, but would also like to show off what you are wearing underneath you can tie up the belt but leave the coat unbuttoned. This is a modern way to really have fun with your fashion and to mix up different textures and patterns. The hem of a skirt peeking out from the bottom of a trench coat can look incredibly stylish and will add an interest to your outfit. Alternatively, leave the coat completely unfastened to show off your outfit or even wear it slung over your shoulders to create a casual, effortless look. One thing you must be careful of is getting the length right. If you are a petite lady then it is advisable to choose a cropped trench coat as a full length design will simply overwhelm you and look as though you have raided your mums dressing up box!
If there is just one coat you buy this season make sure it is a trench. The shops are filled with every kind of style and colour available and the trench coat truly deserves a place in every woman’s capsule wardrobe.
We would love to see which trench coat you choose this season and how you style it. We love hearing from you so please send us your photos or post on our Facebook page.