Style Classics | The History of Trench Coats


Style Classics | The History of Trench Coats


Style Classics | The History of Trench Coats

Today, the trench coat is a style staple. An item that everybody should consider adding to their capsule wardrobe. However, the history of trench coats is not as glamorous as the classic Hollywood movies with which they are often associated! So let’s discuss the history of the trench coat and other interesting facts about this classic garment.

What is a Trench Coat?

A trench coat is a long, belted coat, usually double breasted with a double-front closure, convertible collar, and diagonal-cut pockets. The original colour of the trench coat was a natural, sand colour however, over the years they have become widely available in a range of different colours. The original sand colour (made famous by Burberry), khaki and black are the most popular trench coat shades. The original trench coat was waterproof with a warm Burberry check print lining on the inside. These days, trench coats are available in a variety of textures, some lighter and others heavier and more suitable for cooler temperatures. Not all variations of modern day trench coats are waterproof.
The History of Trench Coats

The History of Trench Coats

The trench coat (sometimes written: trenchcoat) was first created during the 1850’s. There are two famous designers associated with the first ever design of the trench coat: Thomas Burberry and Aquascutum (established by John Emary). During the 1850’s, these two brands created new and innovative fabrics which were “breathable”, as well as waterproof.
In 1901, Thomas Burberry – founder of the Burberry brand, submitted a design of his trench coat to the British War Office. As its name suggests, the first ever “trench coat” was designed as outer wear for soldiers in the trenches. The design was a hit and Burberry’s trench coat was supplied to British soldiers during World War 1.

Details such as the double-breasted front and wide belt are recognisable features on the trench coat but they were originally designed for purposes relevant to their use during the war. The double-breasted front was designed to keep the coat properly fastened to keep the soldiers warm and dry from the wet, miserable weather conditions in the trenches. The inside chequered lining (also created by Thomas Burberry) was a pull-out lining, which the military could also use as a blanket. The belt on the waist and the belts across the sleeves were used for holding equipment such as grenades.
The History of Trench Coats

The History of Burberry Trench Coat

The Burberry trench coat was first created in 1914. The style of coat earned its name as the “trench coat” due to its military influences. While the wartime trench coats saw the soldiers through the rough conditions in the trenches during World War 1, it wasn’t until after the First World War that Burberry’s new coat creation became a hit with civilians.
After experiencing a steady growth in success since its launch, Burberry was approached in year 1914 by the UK War Office to alter its officer’s current version of the trench coat to suit warfare conditions. This was how the Burberry Trench Coat, as we know it, was born.
In the 1920s, Burberry’s famous chequered print was created and used as a lining for its newly popular trench coats. It would later become a significant print for the brand in general, used on product packaging, fashion accessories and on other items of clothing.
The History of Trench Coats


How to Wear a Trench Coat

Trench coats have been made famous by the likes of Audrey Hepburn in Breakfast at Tiffany’s, as well as by Jane Fonda in the 1971 film Klute. Burberry trench coats have also made frequent appearances throughout the James Bond film sequel too. But how do you wear a trench coat? Don’t let its military past fool you, trench coats are incredibly versatile and can be worn with just about anything. A trench coat goes well with just about every type of shoe, including stilettos, boots, trainers and ballet pumps. The coat will also look good over dresses, with jeans, leggings, tights, and formal trousers. Although it is known for its multiple button fastening, you can wear a trench coat buttoned up, half buttoned up, buttons undone but fastened by the belt only, or you could leave all buttons and the belt undone and wear your trench coat open.