A Man’s Guide to the Trench Coat

by Antonio on October 20, 2010 · 72 comments

in Accessories, Dress & Grooming

 

Trench Coat Soldier WWI

An English Officer and his Trench Coat

Perhaps no garment is as romanticized as the trench coat; from South Africa to France to Casablanca to London, it has remained functional and almost unchanged for over 100 years.  Look closely at the pictures in this article and you’ll notice the trench coat of a century ago is almost identical to those sold in shops today.  Surprisingly, very few men sport a trench coat nowadays despite its enduring heritage.  I hope this article changes that, as the trench coat is a classic garment that can add a punch of handsome to any outfit a man wears.

The Trench Coat’s Military Origins

The origins of this garment can be traced to the Tielocken coat Thomas Burberry designed for British officers in the Boer War. The coats were referred to by their creator’s name and made of gabardine, an innovative and durable wool fabric designed by Burberry to repel water and keep the wearer warm but ventilated. Only officers were allowed to wear the coats; they were not a required part of the uniform and could only be purchased privately.

For WWI, Burberry redesigned the coat to include D-rings and shoulders straps, and the British War Board ordered over half a million of them for the military’s officers. The coat quickly became a coveted item among soldiers; it held its own in cold weather by utilizing a wool blanket insert and also served as an emergency sleeping system. The coat earned its name from the protection and mobility it provided to the men fighting in the war’s infamous trenches.


Nothing like sleeping in the mud and smoking a pipe in the comfort of your trench coat!

After the Great War, dozens of Hollywood’s leading men brought the trench coat to the silver screen.  Humphrey Bogart’s most memorable scenes in both Casablanca and The Maltese Falcon feature him wearing what would soon become an iconic garment.  Characters such as Dick Tracy captured the public’s attention with adventure and mystery wrapped up in a trench coat.

The trench coat again saw action in World War II, with Russia and the United States following Britain’s lead in issuing the coat to its men in uniform. However, it was largely eclipsed by more specialized (typically shorter) jackets tailored to the needs of different units and the nature of the war’s battles. Today the trench coat still serves in the world’s militaries as light weather protection for dress uniforms.

Trench Coat Fabric

Wool Gabardine – Wool gabardine was used on early trench coats as the dense weave repelled water and was surprisingly strong; complete with a silk lining, this garment was lightweight, functional, and handsome.   The first jackets were sold only to British officers – a customer who had considerable spending power and was willing to invest in a garment that served him better than anything issued.  Today wool gabardine is only used on high-end or custom trench coats upon request – its high cost makes it impractical for mass sale, although vintage wool gabardines can be found at reasonable prices.

Cotton Fabric – Early versions of the trench coat were made with a heavy duty khaki drill.  Today trench coats use cotton densely woven with poplin and twill weaves (of which gabardine is one).  Although cotton does not have the heat retaining properties of wool, it is more durable and if treated can be water resistant.  Cotton is also less expensive than wool and available in larger quantities from various sources.  Today cotton is the fabric of choice for most trench coats, although manufacturers often mix in man-made fibers for better weather resistance properties and cost savings.

Leather Trench Coats – The leather trench coat is a modern variation, and as such has not earned the status of being a classic piece of menswear.  Heavier and warmer than its cotton or wool fabric brethren, it is more closely related to the overcoat in terms of functionality.  Leather’s ability to repel dirt and water and ease of cleaning have won this trench coat a following among hard working city men.  Unfortunately, the black leather trench coat’s portrayal as the uniform of organized crime’s henchmen has saddled the wearing of the coat with negative connotations.

blue trench coat

Trench coats come in more than one color.

Trench Coat Color – The traditional and most common trench coat color is khaki, although you’ll see jackets labeled as such varying from ivory to tan.  Darker trench coats emerged in scale during the Second World War; from a practicality standpoint it makes sense as they require less cleaning and are somewhat more camouflaged.  Today, black, blue, and even pattern trench coats fill department stores and make up a hefty portion of the market.  Although some may argue the darker colors are less sophisticated and turn their back on tradition, I personally like them as they are practical and compliment a man with dark features.

Trench Coat Style

The style of the trench coat has changed very little in its over 100 year history.  Classic clothing like this is viewed by many as a sound investment because it lasts.  The owner of a classic trench coat can be assured it will never become dated.   And although buying a new one can be hard on the wallet, it’s hard to find a man who would trade his coat in after it has served him faithfully for decades.

These are the common style features you should look for in a classic men’s trench coat:

Double Breasted Front Style – The classic trench coat is double breasted with six to ten buttons depending on length.  Although single breasted jackets are available, I recommend most men purchase a double breasted coat as it will for 95% of them be the only double breasted garment in their wardrobe.  The single breasted variety is best reserved for petite men who may appear buried in too much excess fabric.

Single Back Vent – Trench coats have a single vent – the original purpose was to give a soldier room to run as he moved across the battlefield while ensuring protection from strong winds as he waited for the “word.”

Raglan Sleeves – Unlike normal jacket sleeves, the Raglan sleeve is more relaxed and makes the jacket more comfortable when worn with multiple layers of clothing.

Epaulets (Shoulder Tabs) – A military holdover, epaulets allowed officers to attach rank insignia without damaging the coat.

trench coat details

Top left is the storm flap, notice the shoulder protection.

Storm (Gun) Flap – Assumed by many to be padding for a rifle butt, the “gun” flap is actually a protective flap to ensure water does not slip into the jacket as it runs down the shoulders.  It effectively serves as a cap, keeping the wearer dry, assuming he has on headwear.  We see it on the right side for men and on the left side for women as the jacket buttons up in opposite ways for the different genders.  The reference to this flap being a gun flap is probably due to it being requested during WWI when officers complained about water seeping into the coats after firing their rifles. The raising of the right arm opened up and exposed the early trench coat’s breast fold to the elements – not something you want in a downpour.

Detachable D-Ring Belt – The trench coat’s belt enables the wearer to adjust the jacket’s torso and gives him the ability to carry a firearm, sword, or utility pouch.

Cuff Straps – I’ve heard some people say these were for holding grenades – this is assuredly a myth as no sane person who has ever been around explosives would use them in such a way.  The trench coat’s cuff straps served simply to tighten the fit and keep the rain out – occasionally someone strapped a piece of gear onto them (like a map – never a hand grenade!).

How Should a Trench Coat Fit?

A trench coat should be large enough to be worn over a suit jacket or heavy sweater; it should not be large enough to use as a parachute when jumping out of the back of C-130.  A good measure is to try on a coat and button it up fully – the shoulders should extend out past your natural shoulder by .5 to 1 full inch (to allow room for a suit jacket), and you want to be able to fit a full fist in the chest area while having full arm movement.  Next look at the sleeve length – they should be worn 2 to 4 inches longer than a suit jacket’s sleeves, to about the pinch on your hand.

Modern trench coat length ranges from 37 to 45 inches; the first trench coats were made longer, often worn only a few inches off the ground to better protect the wearer from the elements.  There is not a right length for a trench coat, rather a man should choose a length based off his body type.  Tall and large men should consider longer coats that fall below the knee – short coats make them look like giants.  Smaller men should select shorter coats that fit above the knee and are closely tailored.  These smaller coats will be more proportional and not make you look like you’re wading in excess fabric.

Trench coats can usually be made smaller in the torso and shortened by 5-8 percent (not inches – think 3 inches at most).  They rarely can be made larger, as excess fabric is not usually sewn in.  Therefore, buy the best fit you can find, and if anything, err on the side of the coat being a little too large.

Humphrey Bogart trenchcoat

Shorter than you think, Humphrey Bogart rocked a long double-breasted trench. A great example of knowing the rules and then having the confidence to break them.

Purchasing a Trench Coat

Buying a used trench coat – Thrifting for a trench coat, although time consuming, is a great way to find an amazing deal at a rock bottom price.  I recommend avoiding large marketplaces like EBay, as the number of bidders and large number of counterfeit items can have you paying a steep price for complete junk.  Instead, visit a wide number of thrift stores such as Goodwill and the Salvation Army – not only is the money you spend going to help those in need, you may just find a handsome vintage Burberry selling for pennies on the dollar.

Buying a trench coat new – Buying a trench coat new is of course the more expensive route, especially if you buy an authentic Burberry.  However, to own a Burberry is a sure way to guarantee you’re getting a good build that is backed by a strong warranty and a solid company history. Of course there are many other manufacturers of trench coats – just be careful of deals that appear too good to be true….they often are.

Custom trench coats- A custom trench coat is an option few men think of, but they can be as affordable if not more affordable than buying a brand name coat. The main advantage of the custom option (besides perfect fit) is the ability to ask for unique features and style options.  Want a trench coat that is historically accurate, that is made to house an iPad, or made with a unique fabric?  Then custom is something you should consider.

Conclusion

In summary, the trench coat’s ability to meet the demands of warfare enabled it to survive for decades before being picked up by the public.  When it did find its way into the civilian wardrobe, its heritage and usefulness made it an indispensable item.  And so my question is – what’s stopping you from wearing one?

Written by
Antonio Centeno
President, A Tailored Suit
Articles on Men’s Suits – Dress Shirts – Sport Jackets
Join our Facebook Page & Win Custom Clothing

{ 72 comments… read them below or add one }

1 LPB October 20, 2010 at 10:46 pm

Hey! You left out the most important style clue of all and it involves the waistbelt.

You never, ever, tighten the belt around your waist using the buckle (as shown in the color photo of the model).

Any reader of AOM should knot the belt in a simple overhand/granny knot, as demonstrated by Humphrey Bogart in his photo.

And if, for whatever reason, you don’t want to go with Burberry, Aquascutum is next in line.

2 Shane October 20, 2010 at 10:50 pm

Great post! I’ve had a military style trenchcoat for years, and I love it (as does everyone else!).

3 Andrew October 20, 2010 at 10:59 pm

Remember, a gentleman always wears clothing under his trench coat. Unless, of course, he spends too much on the coat to afford anything underneath, or his lady prefers him that way.

4 Adam October 20, 2010 at 11:07 pm

@ LPB, why would you never use the belt on the waist? I think tying it in a knot looks messy and would be a hassle whenever you use the bathroom.

5 J October 20, 2010 at 11:57 pm

I’ve owned two different trench coats now for several years and have been hard pressed to ever run into somebody else with one. Where I live they’re not to popular really, but I guess Columbine and other things of that nature kind of ruined the trench coat image for my generation (I’m 21). I couldn’t even wear my leather one in high school.

The thing I love MOST about wearing a long, almost to the ground, trench coat is windy days! I don’t think I’ve ever feel more b.a. or that I ever look more like I knew where I was going and what I was doing (confidence) than when I walk out of a building and the wind catches inside that coat.

6 Callum Yocius October 21, 2010 at 12:07 am

I have a trench coat and I wore it into work one day as I needed to just quickly take care of a few things. well, the outside door was open and a gust caught my coat as I was turning a corner and one of my co-workers just stopped and looked at me as my coat billowed out and such. when i approached her, she said “that was the coolest thing I think Ive ever seen.” ROFL!!! I love my trench coat!

7 Allen October 21, 2010 at 1:33 am

If you don’t wish to buckle your trenchcoat, don’t get one with a buckle. If you do get one with a buckle, use it.

8 Allen October 21, 2010 at 1:35 am

P.S.: I have a black leather trenchcoat that has no belt. It was probably an insane purchase, but I love it anyway.

9 Frank October 21, 2010 at 4:40 am

Man, I am liking that trench coat with the gun flap. Any idea as to where I can get one?

10 Rob October 21, 2010 at 4:51 am

I’ve been wearing a black cotton trench coat to work for five, going on six winters now and I love it. Like it says in the opening paragraph, it makes just about anything look better. I especially love it on cold winter days when everyone else is scrunched up and shivering and I’m comfortably warm and squared away in my coat.

And I disagree with LPB’s opinion. I think the knot throws off the balance of the coat and looks sloppy, like you couldn’t take the time to properly fasten your buckle. Personally, I like all the straight lines and angles with the buckle. Of course, it all depends on your own personal style. Humphrey Bogart can pull it off, but I don’t think I can.

11 Ryan Tyler October 21, 2010 at 6:17 am

What a fantastic overview! I’ve been thinking about getting a trench coat because I don’t feel like I have a formal coat for winter. Unfortunately, I didn’t want to buy one without having a stronger background. This is very clear and helpful, thanks.
Ryan

12 Christopher October 21, 2010 at 7:12 am

I just wanted to say these men’s style articles are my favorite regular AoM feature. Thanks for dispensing all this great advice.

13 Jonathan October 21, 2010 at 7:19 am

Do any of you guys have a favorite type or brand of trenchcoat? I’m currently in the market for one. I’d prefer not to spend $995 on this // http://us.burberry.com/product/index.jsp?productId=3787918&cp=3965372.3963277.3965406&parentPage=family // but would like a nice trench that could last quite a few years.

Jonathan

14 prufock October 21, 2010 at 8:05 am

I’m glad to see mention of shopping for trench coats at thrift stores. While thrift store quality is sometimes questionable, I have found there are a few reliably worthwhile buys: trench and pea coats, leather jackets, sport coats, and sweaters (though a bit less reliable).

As usual with thrift stores, watch for:
- damage. Inspect it thoroughly.
- fit. Try it on, make sure it fits as it should.
- material. Canvas? Unless it’s military gear, ugh.
- style. If it’s faded or dated, pass.

15 Stephen October 21, 2010 at 8:31 am

I think flashers probably ruined the trenchcoat for me more than Columbine really.

I actually still have one, though but it doesn’t get the wear it should.

16 Native Son October 21, 2010 at 9:30 am

Why a belt on the trench coat?
Simple. Belts were part of military uniforms back when the trenchcoat was invented.
Weapons or waist-worn other accoutrements would have been carried on either a webbing belt or a leather Sam Browne belt (seen of the vintage photo of the British officer accompanying the article.)

17 Kenneth October 21, 2010 at 10:11 am

The only problem I have with the article is the advice on length. No matter how short you are, never buy a trench coat that doesn’t come past your knee! The purpose of the coat is to keep you dry, so why would you want that much of your pant legs exposed? My coat comes down ~6 inches past my knee, and my ankles and calves still get wet.

18 Mike October 21, 2010 at 10:16 am

In response to some posts, the ‘rules’ of style state that trenchcoats should never be worn in winter. Trenchcoats are for when it rains or it is windy. Topcoats are for when it snows or the temperature drops below 35. Not saying I agree with it, just saying what I’ve been told.

19 Richard October 21, 2010 at 10:29 am

What is the appropriate “dignified/business looking” outer coat to wear over “business casual” clothes when it is cold or raining. It seems like most outer jackets other than trench coats/long rain coats are TOO casual.

20 Timothy October 21, 2010 at 10:59 am

Nobody can rock a trenchcoat like an undead Nazi zombie can.

http://www.deadsnow.com

21 Michael La Vean October 21, 2010 at 11:01 am

Another reason it is a called a Gun Flap is that some coats have a pad that goes underneath the flap in order to absorb recoil.

It is not common anymore as people no longer hunt in trench coats.

22 Jessica October 21, 2010 at 1:06 pm

My boyfriend has/wears a trenchcoat regularly, and Bogarts it really well. I have to say, it’s one of my favorite looks on him.

23 Jonathan October 21, 2010 at 5:06 pm

in fact it’s not clear that the origin is Burberry, although they did much to popularize it. Burberry designed for the British military early in 1900s. However Aquascutum created something earlier in mid 1800s and were the first to waterproof wool.

24 Jeffrey D October 21, 2010 at 5:08 pm

Trenchcoats are great to wear over a suit if you’re a businessman. Otherwise, they’re the ultimate way to look like an Internet dork. Worse than being in your 20s and sporting a fedora.

25 Tom October 21, 2010 at 5:29 pm

“Internet dork”? Oh I don’t know Jeffrey. Depends on the rest of the package I think. I do remember some strange rangers from my college days wearing trenches. I think a mature adult male – a MANLY male – can wear one very well, even casually. The fedora would be a bit much, I agree.

26 Anon October 21, 2010 at 6:10 pm

There is confusion of terms in this article, which correctly says that a classic trench-coat is double-breasted and belted. The single-breasted ones may be raincoats but are not trench-coats.
And NEITHER of these types of coat should ever be called a “jacket”. A jacket is short (the length of a suit-jacket or sports-jacket).

27 Dave Lewis October 21, 2010 at 6:15 pm

The old German long coats (Sgt Schultz in Hogan’s Heroes) were more correctly classed as “greatcoats” or overcoats. They were very heavy high quality wool in the 30′s. By the middle of the war the coats were a poor quality reclaimed wool and rayon blend and weren’t very warm. Since the German army didn’t issue a layered uniform to the common soldiers, the greatcoat was intended to provide lots of warmth over the regular field uniform. In contrast, the American field uniform of wool shirt, sweater, field jacket and liner was warmer, lighter and much more comfortable.

The classic trench coat as developed by the Brits and adopted by film noir gangsters and men of action everywhere should be of lighter weight than the old European greatcoat. Since, as the article states, the coat was originally sold to officers, it should be of high quality. I see it as primarily a rain or foul weather coat.

The “look” that Humphrey Bogart, Alan Ladd, and others developed in the immediate post war period was one of the cynical combat veteran. The hardboiled detectives of the late 40′s had seen some serious action as a senior NCO or junior officer. They carried government model .45s because the .45 ACP put down SS troopers and Imperial Japanese Marines with ease. And they wore their military issue trench coats because (a.) they couldn’t afford anything better (b) the coat was baggy enough to conceal the aforementioned .45 automatic in a shoulder holster and (c) real men wore what was comfortable and didn’t care about fashion.

Most of those reasons still work 60 years later. My tastes run more toward the field jacket styling but there’s nothing wrong with a nice trench coat. I outgrew my old USN issue rain coat – a dark grey belted trench coat – about 30 years ago and I wish that I could find another one. These coats never go out of style – and even if they do you’re just a cynical old combat vet who doesn’t care about fashion and is probably packing heat.

28 Tryclyde October 21, 2010 at 8:01 pm

You could also go with the beltless trenchcoat known as The Executive. Contact Morty Seinfeld to purchase one.

29 Robert Penn October 21, 2010 at 8:27 pm

My father gave me his London Fog khaki trench coat. It’s double breasted with a storm flap and a removable liner. It is great in the rain and the snow, and my fedora looks perfect with it.

30 Chris Kavanaugh October 21, 2010 at 8:57 pm

Black leather coats are not variations of trenchcoats. They were created much the same way and time though as flying and naval, especially submarine kit. The problem with Burberry is it’s social stigma of the plaid lining currently associated with less than genteel people. The coat itself isn’t even made in the UK anymore but I believe Poland.

31 Brian Fulton October 22, 2010 at 12:27 am

Officers do not carry rifles (then) as stated in the article, officers of the day carried a pistol for protection as they were there to lead not necessarily fight. But officers would spend a lot of time looking through binoculars and similar, where the storm flap would come in handy. Nowdays, everyone carries a rifle. The belt on the trenchcoat is to keep the weather out, and keep it from blowing around. Also in tight quarters such as a trench, keep it from snagging on something (which in some cases, may have lethal consequences).

32 Ethan C. October 22, 2010 at 1:01 am

On the subject of durability:

My older brother Kent inherited my grandfather’s trench coat, which he wore in World War II. It is a beautiful garment, with a button-in wool liner. I can’t guess how much an identical version would cost me new.

33 Calvin October 22, 2010 at 1:14 am

I wound up purchasing a leather trench coat just under a year ago. I saw David Tennant wearing one (I’m not sure if it was leather or not) in Dr. Who and thought it looked awesome. So, on an impulse I bought one. Although I regretted buying it at first, due to the comparatively high cost (I don’t think I’ve ever spent a dime on a coat… I’ve inherited or been given all of my other coats/jackets from friends and family since as far back as I can remember), I soon came to love it and wear it pretty much everywhere. If I were to do it again, though, I would definitely look for a used one since new ones can be quite expensive.

34 Cameron T. October 22, 2010 at 9:39 am

I love my trench coat and wear it as often as I can. Here in Texas it doesn’t really get cold enough to wear until November. Mine has a removeable lining that I can take out if it gets too hot. It’s the best coat I own.

I’ve never been able to pull off the knotted-buckled. I’m a big guy and the knot just doesn’t stay. So I always buckle it.

35 Jerry October 22, 2010 at 10:19 am

I get my trenchcoats at gun shows. They come in multiple colors and are the real deal. No stupid logo and usually come with the zip-out liner. The prices range from about $20 to $40.

36 Adam October 22, 2010 at 10:49 am

I don’t wear a trenchcoat because they don’t exist in 37XL. Perhaps atailoredsuit can help with that; checking it out now…

37 Lucas E Szymanowski October 22, 2010 at 4:42 pm

@Chris

Whats wrong with anything being made in Poland?

38 Lucas E Szymanowski October 22, 2010 at 4:54 pm

So anyone know where to get the coat in the picture? With the storm flap… Its awesome. For years I wore a full length black leather coat and everyone always loved it. Thinking that I just may check out the local thrift stores and the military surplus stores as well.

Cheers

Lucas

39 Marcus Sjöberg October 22, 2010 at 7:36 pm

I wear a black trenchcoat , it’s singlebrested though. It has a zip-in liner.

Looks great worn open over my suit with my black fedora in the autumn,
and keeps me warm in the winter with the liner in.

Having a longer coat really helps with the cold winds here in Stockholm.

40 Dave October 22, 2010 at 11:20 pm

LPB
Amen brother.

41 Chris Kavanaugh October 22, 2010 at 11:52 pm

Lucas, There is nothing inherently wrong with a quality garment made in Poland. The ‘wrong’ is when iconic national products are outsourced. It may be a mere cultural conceit, but my circa 1920 SADLER teapot painted MADE IN BURSLEM ENGLAND is english. The current ‘Brown Bettys’ made in Malaysia are, well,teapots.
Burberry in the UK is a victim of it’s own marketting hype.The plaid has become the cadillac hubcap sized, multi function watch bling bling of the unwashed masses. Sadly, this includes the classic trenchcoat. If you find one, wear it, but take note of what the men in the period photos wore with it. You don’t need a Webly-Fosbury in Sam Brown leather, but a tie wins out over a tshirt.

42 Arnuld October 23, 2010 at 10:15 am

What about the Crombie Coat? Not a single comment about them :( Makes me sad as I wear one very proudly!

43 Vaarok October 23, 2010 at 4:29 pm

While I wouldn’t quite go so far as to buy at a gunshow, I have to say that army surplus greatcoats are generally the best way to go. Both Swedish and Soviet surplus greatcoats and trenchcoats are commonly available from surplus wholesalers for not a lot of money. They may not be name-brand, but they are a superb bargain.

I personally found a 1930s NY State Police trenchcoat at an estate auction last year- while the heavy wool build adds pounds to your shoulders and cooks you in above-zero temperatures, it’s a phenomenal way to armor oneself against wind, as the thick fabric will keep air movement from robbing the heat from your body.

The downside is that many people just try to buy a coat to wear it like a Darth Vader cape. If you choose to wear such a coat, wear it buttoned and try to channel more of a Jack Harkness vibe than something out of The Matrix/

44 Stewart October 24, 2010 at 4:29 am

@Antonio Centeno, is there any additional information (such as the make) regarding the pictured trench coat with the storm (gun) flap? I would love to get one for myself and a brother of mine.

45 Hemisferio October 24, 2010 at 8:13 am

Great article… But i have a couple of questions:

1) How should you close the trench coat? Closing on the right side (Under the storm flap) or on the left side. I was used to close it on the left but now i know the storm flap makes sense…

2) What’s the use of the detachable piece on the back of the collar? You can see it on the photo of the back in this link
http://www1.bloomingdales.com/catalog/product/index.ognc?ID=486627&CategoryID=14659

46 Antonio October 24, 2010 at 1:05 pm

First – thanks everyone for the great comments! I do want to thank Kate McKay for helping with the intro….she really set the tone for the article and helped me refine its presentation. Now let me address a few of the questions that I’ve been asked since last week.

How to tie the waist belt? – For me, this depends on the time you have and the image you want to present. If I’m in a hurry, I tie it and move quickly to get out of the rain. If I have the time, I use the buckle. Perhaps it’s my military habit, but wearing it tied in a knot would warrant an ass chewing from a gunny or first sergeant who are sticklers for this sort of detail.

Closing the trench coat and collar details – Close it the way it was intended to be closed – a woman’s trench closes the opposite way, as the buttons and storm flap are oppositely placed. On the back of a trench coat collar you often see a throat latch, whose sole function is to tighten the top of the coat around the neck to complete the water resistant seal.

When to wear? – I say when appropriate, and this depends on climate, location, and the build of your coat. If it’s lined properly, you can wear a warm trench on a snowy day. If it’s lightweight, why not during a downpour on a summer day in Hong Kong. Know the rules of style, but do not be afraid to break them.

The trench coat’s true origin? – History is written by the victors, and since Burberry has dominated the market I assume they have “subtly influenced” the perception of where this coat originated and by whom. Needless to say, it is a style that has stood the test of time and is a modern day classic.

About the pictures used in this article – the light colored trench coat was a picture I pulled from an online auction a while back. It’s a classic military style Burberry made about 20 years ago – today you would only be able to find in on ebay, perhaps at an estate sale, or you could have one custom made.

Do you make custom trench coats at A Tailored Suit? – Yes, although right now we don’t advertise this. If interested just contact me via my site and we can work out the details over email or the phone.

47 Alan October 24, 2010 at 1:53 pm

A great idea is to check out estate sales as well. I found an amazing authentic Burberry double-breasted wool gabardine trench coat for slightly over $100 that was in perfect condition, as it was only worn twice. Its original going price was over $1,500, so it was a pretty great deal. It has a wool insert and a detachable wool collar for added warmth on those chilly new england mornings. Without a doubt, one of my favorite articles of clothing.

48 SL October 27, 2010 at 12:25 am

I believe the article is wrong in stating that leather trench coats are a modern variation. I’ve seen photographs dating back to WW1 of military officers from both sides wearing leather trench coats.

49 Christian Lafay October 30, 2010 at 3:42 pm

While I did grow up with the outcasts children who say trench coats as the ultimate rebellion (I’m 26) I have to admit that even with my childish ignorance far behind me that I do rather enjoy the look of a trench coat, with the exception of the storm flap. When I was issued my trench coat from the US Army it was everything it was supposed to be (including storm flap, grumble) and I still wear it this day, even though I am back to civilian status.

But part of me still envies Neo and his nehru style coat.

50 John Graham October 31, 2010 at 9:34 am

Love trench coats. They are an essential item when you happen to live somewhere like the UK.

51 Adam Toy November 1, 2010 at 3:50 pm

I just found a London Fog full-length trench coat at Salvation Army for $25! And it looked like it was worn maybe 5 times. I’m just waiting for the right time to wear it (I seem to be wearing a lot more casual/biz-casual lately and few proper jackets).
Here’s hoping I can get more life out of it than the previous owner!

52 Jack November 2, 2010 at 3:58 pm

I rock a black leather trenchcoat and black fedora in the winter. Add in a royal blue scarf, and on a trip to Chicago a few years ago, I had people diving into snowbanks to get out of my way. Being a 20-something Internet nerd, I’ve never felt quite so dignified or powerful.

53 R.A. Stewart November 3, 2010 at 12:32 am

I love a trenchcoat; have had several over the years. Thumbs up on thrifting for one. (I live in a large city, so that’s even more of an option.) I’ll have to check out surplus wholesalers as well; there don’t seem to be as many true military surplus stores where I live as there used to be.

54 David November 7, 2010 at 6:16 pm

I think that if we each had a trenchcoat, this would inspire us to go out visiting on cold winter days more. We would probably have more live theatres with coat rooms so that we could put our coats on so we could go out and enjoy how warm and comfortable they are. I would also like to wear a trenchcoat to work if I lived in the snowy country.

55 Kevin November 7, 2010 at 10:33 pm

@ Ethan C.

They do. http://atthefront.com/us/uniforms/officerfieldovercoats.html

I hope this helps!

Oh, I am a college student and wear a Burberry London trench and no one thinks I look like a dork in it. I get a lot of compliments in it. Moreover, it IS made in the UK.

56 Albert November 12, 2010 at 9:57 am

One thing about the trench coat, it should never be saggy or roomy or anything else other than fitted.
Buckle the belt, do not tie it in a knot unless you are holding a pint of whiskey in your hand, wearing you wing tips without socks and have a baseball hat covering your messy hair.
Forget about the manufacturer, whether it is made in England or in Italy or in China, just check that it fits you well.
IMO British pattern-making is not the best in the world, it is too concervative for a modern man.
Do not worry about who wears it and what they look like, go to the store, try the trench and see what it does for you.

57 Fraser November 16, 2010 at 6:46 pm

Hi all,

I just picked up a Burberrys trenchcoat in a vintage shop, and it looks amazing. My only concern was as to whether or not it was a woman’s style, as it buttoned to the left. They said they were pretty sure it wasn’t, but now I have it I’m not so sure.

So, my questions are:

Is it?

And…

Does it matter if it is as long as it looks great and was a bargain? Which it is and it was!

Cheers,

F

58 Ryan Tyler November 18, 2010 at 2:37 pm

I posted earlier and since the comments are still open, I thought I’d give an update.

After reading this, I went on to buy a pea coat, which also has a military history. I’ve received several compliments already. By the way, I was also reading William Gibson’s new novel, Zero History, just after this article. It also discusses men’s fashion and the influence of the military.

I’m still looking for a trench.

Thanks again,
Ryan

59 Tye October 28, 2012 at 2:26 am

Last year I picked up a cool looking trench coat for about $20 from the thrift store I live up the street from. The coat is dark green, has an ARMY tag inside and probably ways more than 20 lbs. I didn’t give it too much thought until I got home and started looking at all the tags on it and its liner. The coat was manufactured in 1953 exclusively for the U.S. Army! Despite this, it has minimal wear. I often wonder at what kind of a history it has. It was such an amazing find, and is great for times when I need to trek around during blizzards. I plan on keeping it as immaculate as I found it.

60 John December 13, 2012 at 2:06 am

Would like to throw my dos centavos in here. The milsurp wool greatcoats are indeed one of the BEST bargains out there.The Sportsmans Guide still carries a few, as does EBay, Col. Bubbies in Galveston and military surplus stores in general. Manufacturers cannot afford to make this quality any more for the prices you will find these advertised at (typically $20-$100.00). Many times they also come with military insignia. Very macho, very utilitarian, typically well tailored and will last a lifetime if taken care of:)-John in Austin

61 Adam January 12, 2013 at 11:04 am

If you are looking to have a custom made trench coat http://www.bandjfabrics.com/fabrics/coating has a wonderful selection of wool coating fabric.

62 Roddy Macintyre January 14, 2013 at 3:47 pm

Fraser,

I have several burberry trenchcoats for men and they all button to the right.

63 steven warren January 15, 2013 at 8:35 am

Hi, i purchased a dark grey leather trench coat with a label Spieth with stas head inside. When i purchased it i was told it was ex-military.It has no buttons,and appears to be approx 1990′s,does anyone have a knowledge of Spieth coats???…thanx….

64 abe January 17, 2013 at 8:58 pm

my sister wears trench coats

65 bern January 21, 2013 at 10:18 pm

does anyone still make a full length trench coat with a hood and zip out liner?

66 rainer February 14, 2013 at 12:08 am

i have a trench coat just like in the pic of Humphrey Bogart and i love it, i spent a whopping $20 on it at a thrift store and its the most comfortable coat i have ever worn and works great in most weather, warm when it needs to be but breaths enough to keep you cool at the peak of the day.

67 Gage Brown November 3, 2013 at 1:35 am

I bought myself an old Korean War vintage US Army officer’s coat in taupe-ish beige gabardine. It has a zip out melton wool liner and cost about $25, so no complaints there either!

68 nygrump December 10, 2013 at 4:26 pm

I used to go to SYms and buy a full length black trench coat (raincoat) for $100. Syms went out of business and these coats are simply not available, other than the $500 versions I see in the Madison Ave shops. I’ve tried Macys etc. I’m perplexed, I thought this was basic stuff, like button down shirts.

69 Nicole December 14, 2013 at 4:00 pm

I am going shopping for a trench as a surprise for my son in law who is about to graduate from UW Madison with a degree in Business. I can’t measure him or it would ruin the surprise and I have no clue as to sizing. So if anyone can help I would appreciate suggestions! He is 6ft, 250lbs…right now….typically he is 200-210 when working out, due to injury he has not been in the gym but is going back after winter break, so I do not want to drown him in a coat for a 40lb heavier man. BUT as a linebacker he is broad shouldered. Any guesses on sizing? Thanks for any help!!

70 Nate December 19, 2013 at 11:19 am

Nicole — I just bought this trench on sale (coupon code) from Banana Republic:

http://bananarepublic.gap.com/browse/product.do?cid=14845&vid=1&pid=932419002

I got the size Medium. I’m 5’11″, 170 lbs., with a 39″-40″ chest, 32″-34″ waist.

This jacket fits me really well. Based on their size chart he could easily be a Large to XL. Check the size chart – hope this is a good frame of reference. Every brand is different though.

Good luck.

71 D.E.G. January 5, 2014 at 7:32 pm

Just found a local thrift store. In that thrift store, I stumbled upon a trench coat. After ‘pricing’ the same coat, I think the $50 I paid makes it a steal. I’m super stoked, even if I don’t have much need for a trench in the more temperate climate where I live.

72 Charles Lundquist January 21, 2014 at 8:25 pm

I need a replacement belt for my London Fog khaki-colored trenchcoat because the tortoise-shell colored plastic belt buckle broke when I slammed the car door on it. I don’t think that anyone should have to replace the whole London Fog trenchcoat just because this happened. If you don’t sell the belt then do you just seel the tortoise-shelled colored belt buckle? I’ll also consider a tan or a brown belt buckle too.

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