The beige trench coat is one of the most famous classic and immortal garments. Famous stylists and glossy magazines like to advise a trench as a “great investment” and “indispensable thing”, without which the wardrobe of a modern woman cannot be considered perfect. Is it so? Do you really need that trench in our realities? Let’s figure it out.
We begin with the history, and the history of the classic trench goes back as much as the XIX century. Back in 1879, Thomas Burberry invented gabardine, a dense and durable cotton fabric, resistant to rain and wind. And in the early twentieth century, he proposed a gabardine rain coat of his own design to the British Army as an officer’s uniform.
During the First World War, the trench coat gained immense popularity among British officers and became a good substitute for traditional thick woolen overcoats. Trench coat was much lighter and more convenient, had the perfect length, so as not to dity it. Besides, it had a bunch of very practical details, in particular ‒ epaulets to indicate the rank of an officer; huge pockets that could hold maps and other papers; an additional “flying” back that drained the water in the rain, and an additional panel in front on the right shoulder, under which the gun was hidden.
Often these details can be found in modern trench coats, although they have long lost their practical significance. And today, like a hundred years ago, a classic trench coat is double-breasted, fastened with 10 large buttons. It has wide lapels, a rather spacious silhouette, and voluminous raglan sleeves with a deep armhole, so that an extra warm layer can be worn under the trench. It has a belt to keep the body warm, and also buttons on the “belts” of the sleeves, so that hands do not get cold. It is sewn of water resistant gabardine, usually beige or khaki, sometimes black or dark blue.
Well thought out, very practical and convenient thing, in which no detail is superfluous. But how did this “trench coat” fall into the lists of the most necessary women’s things? Very simple! As if it is the first stylish thing stolen by women from men’s wardrobes!
After the First World War, veterans brought their trench coats home and continued to wear them there in a peaceful life. When Europe was on fire again, trench coats were useful in the new war. In 1942, Humphrey Bogart in a gray hat and casually belted trench coat in the film “Casablanca” struck with harsh elegance and she didn’t know then that this movie and this image of him should become a cult classic of all time. Emancipated movie stars of that time that liked to dress in masculine style are Marlene Dietrich, Greta Garbo ‒ they began to wear trench coats just then, long before it became mainstream.
Already in the 50s, trench coats began to gain popularity among women on both sides of the Atlantic, they were worn more and more. And the cinema of that time finally secured the status of fashionable women’s clothing for the trench coats. In 1959 Brigitte Bardot in a trench coat entertained the world in the film “Babette Goes to War”, and in 1961 Audrey Hepburn in trench coat walked around New York in the famous “Breakfast at Tiffany’s”.
Everyone remembers the iconic image of Audrey Hepburn in a little black dress from this film, but few people noticed that in the final, incredibly sensual scene, the characters kiss in the pouring rain, hugging a wet red cat, both wearing trench coats. Since then, the beige trench coat has finally become a classic of the urban wardrobe for both sexes. Trench adds chic to any outfit, instantly raises it to a new level of elegance and style.
For decades, trench coats hasn’t gone out of fashion, you can buy them any season, wear them, and look modern and appropriate. Now trench coats with timeless classics have become a hot trend. There are plenty of them on the runways, leading brands demonstrate both traditional trench coats and various fantasies on the theme.
Mass-market stores are catching up with the trend and also offer trench coats of different quality, in accordance with the price category of the manufacturer. And here fashion blogs and stylists insist: the eternal classics, a reasonable investment, a necessary component of the wardrobe, suits everyone… Here, the hands will stretch themselves to acquire such a necessary, such elegant and universal thing. But don’t hurry.
Firstly, the rumors that the traditional beige trench coat fits everyone are greatly exaggerated. In fact, this beige color has historically been chosen as the last of those considerations to suit someone. And this is not an easy task ‒ to find the shade of beige that suits fair-skinned women with light eyes and blond hair. And every second one in Ukraine looks like this! Here is the same story as with a classic camel-colored cashmere coat. It fits all… Italian women. But not all Ukrainian. And if our women choose a trench coat, it’s often better not to be beige.
Secondly, rumors about the versatility of the trench coat for any occasion and any weather are fair, but not for our latitudes. Trench coat can be worn for six months a year in London, where in November and March, the normal average daily temperature is about 10 degrees Celsius. In some cities of Italy and Spain it is possible to wear trench coats all the winter. But in most regions of Ukraine, the season for trench coats is too short. Maximum a month in the fall, until it is too cold for trench coats. And in the spring it can often happen that a trench coat could never be put on, you may immediately jump from boots into sandals, from a warm coat into a light jacket.
So, is this investment so reasonable if you have to wear a trench coat only few times a year? Unless, with such a super gentle exploitation, the trench will really serve for many years. Unless, of course, if a fair hovering in a closet and waiting for the next outing could be considered as a service.
If you want to make a universal, multifunctional wardrobe for all occasions for the minimum budget, you should not invest in a trench coat. It is better to buy a thin warm jacket instead, natural or artificial. It will protect from a rain and autumn winds no worse than a trench coat, besides, it can be worn in winter under a voluminous coat and you would have a beautiful, modern, stylish look and feel warm and comfortable.
However, if there is a desire and free money for a trench coat, then why not? This is really an elegant and decent thing, especially if it is stitched qualitatively and suits you. How to wear, with what to combine ‒ we learn from the stars of street-style. And wear trench coats, while there’s a weather for them.
By Maya Tulchynska