Humphrey Bogart in Casablanca, and the indomitable Carmen Sandiego
By Allison Daniels
The trench coat has been a key piece of wardrobes the world over for decades. Ever wonder why it’s called a trench coat? The answer is pretty simple. These classic coats were originally created as alternatives to the heavy serge coats worn by British and French soliders in WWI. They wore them in the trenches, hence the name “trench coat”. Both Burberry and Aquascutum claim to have invented the trench coat, with Acquascutum’s claim dating back to the 1850’s, and Burberry on record for having submitted a trench coat design in 1901.
After WWI and WWII, the trench started to be worn by civilians, but its former association with the military helped it retain the dignified formality that a trench coat lends to the most casual ensemble, even today. From 007 to Holly Golightly, Carmen Sandiego to Inspector Gadget, the trench coat is one of the most ubiquitous fashion statements in popular culture.
Emma Watson for Burberry’s Campaign
There are two things we can take away from this mini-retrospective of the trench coat.
1. The trench coat is not a recent innovation.
2. It is an incredibly versatile, adaptable item that can be by turns both incredibly masculine and incredibly feminine; utterly utilitarian and impeccably chic.
As I’ve mentioned in my other trend reports, fashion over the past few seasons has been particularly playful, adventurous, and creative. Our steadfast trench coat has seen the benefit of this, being twirled and tasseled, tied and dyed to create all manner of fresh, avant-garde versions of the classic.
Check out the best in the new generation of trenches, chosen by yours truly:
As the face of the Burberry brand, Emma Watson has access to bespoke pieces of Burberry. Here’s the lucky girl in (1) leather-sleeved trench, (2) studded trench and (3) suede, double-breasted trench.
Victoria Beckham in a military-esque trench with exaggerated buttons and lapels
Emma Watson in ethereal, lavender, puffy-sleeved Burberry trench, one of my favorite trench looks EVER.
Rihanna in ruched Burberry. Beside her, Sarah Jessica Parker in a leather, olive drab waist-cinching Burberry ensemble.
Blake Lively in a red, ruffled trench by Valentino, Fergie in forest green Gerard Darel and Rosie Huntington-Whiteley in a vermilion Burberry (the Transformers star and Victoria’s Secret model is the face of Burberry’s fragrance).
Stylist Rachel Zoe in Burberry, Lauren Conrad in her own Lauren Conrad Collection trench
Despite the fact that Burberry clearly has the monopoly on creative, high-end trench coats, don’t make the mistake of thinking you can’t find great ones at accessible prices. Lauren Conrad’s line is a great option, and I’m going to give you several more:
Timberland Women’s Earthkeepers Waterproof Double-Breasted Trench Coat ($128, timberland.com); Trench Lessons Coat ($99.99, modcloth.com)
Belted Aviator Trench, ($44.99, charlotterusse.com); Calvin Klein Long Coat, Long Sleeve Faux Leather Tream ($67.49, nordstrom.com)
Knit Trench Coat with Belt ($32.80, forever21.com); Ellen Tracy Metallic Belted Trench ($94.99, macys.com)
Tahari Ruffle Trim Satin Trench ($64.97); Kenneth Cole New York Belted Trench Coat ($69.97). Both from Nordstrom.com
With this many beautiful and distinctive trench coat options (all but one of which are under $100), I dare you not to find one that suits your tastes as well as your budget.