Cutting a Dash through the 21st Century


Trench Coats

Sometimes I look at my wardrobe and I feel that I’m not quite a fully-fledged man of the world. Why? Because unlike Humphrey Bogart, Inspector Clouseau or even Damian Lewis, I don’t own a trench coat. As autumn is now slapping us around the face with horizontal rain, I’m looking to rectify this situation.

burberryNow back when the trench coat was invented, to supply British Officers in the First World War, choice was limited. You could have a khaki, double breasted trench or a khaki, double breasted trench. And that was it. To this day there is a certain joyful tradition in choosing this type of coat. However a perusal of online emporiums reveals a plethora of varieties.

Burberry trench

Burberry Trench

Burberry is the ultimate choice for traditionalists. Forget the image of Daniella Westbrook pushing a trolley of sprogs dressed head to toe in check patterned clobber, Burberry are a brand with real luxurious heritage. It was Mr Thomas Burberry who invented the gabardine material that made the coats waterproof and therefore popular in the trenches. (As a point of note – the officers’ coat was actually invented for the Boer War, but it didn’t really take on its established appearance until the Great War). As such the Burberry trench is the definitive coat, but one to leave a big hole in your wallet.

Aquascutum (‘watershield’ in Latin) has a similarly illustrious heritage. Their history goes back to waterproof coats made for the Crimean War, and they too supplied trench coats to the Belgian fields of 1914-1918. They’re a slightly cheaper option, still pricey, but cheaper than Burberry. They do a single breasted variety of coat too, which has left me in a bit of a quandary.

Aquascutum DB Trench

Aquascutum DB Trench

Aquascutum SB Trench

Aquascutum SB Trench

When buttoned up, the double breasted coat looks superb. However, when undone there is a lot of material in this style and it will flap about an awful lot. The single-breasted variety is therefore better for an undone style, but doesn’t look anywhere near as good when buttoned up….

Zara Trench

Zara Trench

So what to buy? There are lots of trench coats on the market from cheap and cheerful at H&M or Zara, all the way up to said Burberry. However, this is an investment piece, so it is worth spending a bit of money on it. My feeling is to go traditional, and opt for double breasted. I’ll probably make a nod to contemporary style by choosing a colour other than beige though, I’m inclined to go for navy blue.

I’m going to hunt around for a vintage second hand trench coat if I can, but I’d be amazed if one turns up. I’d best get saving…


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