The Essentials: A Trench Coat

In The Essentials, we look at an item that is important to a functional work wardrobe. These pieces are true workhorses: they withstand trends, can serve as a foundation or a last, polished touch to outfits, and offer a better return on investment in cost-per-wear (if you buy the highest quality you can afford).

Burberrys
Source: Gentleman’s Gazette.

The Trench Coat.

Trench Coat ad(2)
Ad for Ladies Trench Coats (Source: The Great War Society)

The trench coat was “one of the most lasting contributions to fashion by WWI,” according to the Great War Historical Society. The War forced many women to work and, as part of their uniforms, they wore sturdy trench coats similar to those issued to the soldiers. By the mid 20th century, the trench coat was an essential piece to a pulled-together look for women, amplified by the leading ladies of Hollywood who gave the coat a mysterious, sophisticated allure. A star was born.

Marlene Dietrich
Marlene Dietrich in “A Foreign Affair,” 1948.

Today, the trench coat is still significant as key workwear, and designers continually modernize its style with different fabrics, details, and length. Here are some of our favorites to get you inspired to update your wardrobe.

Style Inspiration – In the Trench

The Go-Getter: Calvin Klein ($90); The Manager: Gap ($128); The Creative: Asos ($89); The Mover & Shaker: Karen Millen ($389); The Solopreneur: DKNY ($275); The CEO: Burberry ($1,895); Star Style: Lea Michele in Glamour Paris;Ted Baker ($252).

Trench Coat Shopping Tips

Oliva Pope Scandal
Olivia Pope caused a fashion stir in this white Burberry Prorsum Caped Trench Coat during the season 3 premiere of “Scandal.”
  • While an original Burberry is out of reach for many of us, there are plenty trench coats for any budget. But note: this will be an indispensable item in your wardrobe, so you should buy one of the highest quality construction and fabric you can afford. If you must have the quintessence of a trench, search for deals at a Burberry Outlet Store, eBay, or Designer Apparel by Pop Sugar
  • Show your personality in the details: a funky patterned lining, leather sleeves, ruffles, bold color, or unexpected fabrics. Trench Coats by Asos and Dahlia
  • Look for a fit and length that flatters your body type: Mid-thigh transitions well from work to play; knee-length provides good coverage for skirts and dresses; ankle-gracing styles are gorgeous on tall, slim frames; curvy ladies look beautiful in fit-and-flare coats. 

    Top Shop
    Source: All Women Stalk

Top image: Meryl Streep in “Kramer vs. Kramer,” 1979. Source: Woodstockwardrobe

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