Fashion Intelligence: The Art of the Trench Coat
by ATFDC Contributor Susan Stipanovich
The trench coat has been a part of wardrobes around the globe since it was developed as an alternative to the heavy serge greatcoats worn by British and French soldiers in the First World War. The invention of the trench coat is claimed by both Burberry and Aquascutum with Aquascutum’s claim dating back to the 1850s. Thomas Burberry, the inventor of gabardine fabric, submitted a design for an army officer’s raincoat to the United Kingdom War Office in 1901. The garment is immensely versatile for Fashiontonians, who can wear it on mild winter days, as well as cool spring and fall days. Christopher Bailey, Chief Creative Officer for Burberry said: “The trench coat is iconic, unique, functional, ageless, and timeless.”
With inspiration from wearers such as Marlene Dietrich, Brigitte Bardot, Audrey Hepburn, Kate Middleton, and Meryl Streep, there are limitless ways to style and enjoy the classic coat. Wear with almost any outfit, and pair with a great handbag or scarf for added flair. There are a few things to keep in mind when making this purchase. First of all, choose the right hem length- right above the knee or shorter is the perfect length for most body figures. The longer trench coat is a more classic style, however a thigh length is a great way to showcase curves and a pair of great jeans. If you’re petite then it may be wise to choose a shorter length (to put more emphasis on the waist) or add an extra inch to your footwear if you decide to wear a longer hem length. Another thing to keep in mind is to get the right fit. You want sleeves that won’t cover your hands and a size that won’t create a hunch back. It’s very important that the coat doesn’t restrict your back or arms when moving your body. If you do fall in love with a coat that doesn’t quite fit, take it to your local tailor who will be sure to keep you looking chic. And lastly, don’t be afraid to experiment. The trench coat is a very classy piece, but it needn’t be restricted to dress pants and shift dresses. Make it part of your everyday daily wear – with skinny jeans, short skirts and dresses. Change the look and feel of it with trendy ankle booties or fashion pumps.
Luckily, there are loads of shops in the District currently carrying trench options for the chic Fashiontonian. For those seeking an option that won’t break the bank, look around Target, H&M, Banana Republic, Gap (their classic trench is on sale now), Zara, or Ann Taylor. If looking to make an investment in a classic piece, one can’t go wrong with Burberry. Kate Spade also makes a lovely trench that is a nice twist on a classic. Yves Saint Laurent is of course always a great option, with classic lines and high quality. No matter what style you choose, enjoy the experience of shopping for one and the years of chic options that a great trench coat can add to any Fashiontonian’s wardrobe.
Photo: Marcio Madeira/firstVIEW
Susan Stipanovich is a stylist and writer who lives and works in Washington D.C. She researches counter terrorism methods and international security sector reform in Africa and the Middle East by day as a Department of Defense associate and spends her free time curating a fashionable lifestyle through her blog Hepburn Loves Givenchy.