The Story of a Trench
This article describes the history, anatomy, and various styles of the men’s trench coat.
The topic discusses the history, form and function, and various styles of a proper trench.
Introduction to the Trench Coat
When the rain comes down in sheets and the wind picks up, if the well-dressed man wants to stay clean and dry he will reach for a trench coat. The trench has a long and storied history and is a staple of any modern man’s wet weather gear.
History of the Trench
Thomas Burberry of England is accredited with the creation of the trench coat in the 19th century. He was a pioneer in the study of fabric technology and functional design in his day.
Burberry created and processed a gabardine wool fabric that resisted the elements. The trench coat was designed to be used in rugged environments such as the military, adventure sports, and extreme weather conditions, but it can be seen today on city streets and in corporate offices.
Anatomy of a Trench
Trench coats are made for bad weather. Therefore, they should be made of a wool or waxed cotton fabric and of a water resistant or waterproof material. This will allow the man to stay warm and dry simultaneously. Trenches come in single or double-breasted military style. They come belted, half-belted, or unbelted. The less belting – the less formal the coat.
The sleeves may be cuffed or uncuffed, raglan or with no sleeve buttons at all. Since the coat is made for weather protection it boasts a large turn down collar which the most elegant and sensible man will wear up to protect from the high winds and also to give a certain panache to his look.
Fit and Proportion of a Trench Coat
The ubiquitous ankle length trench with a long, untied belt and massive amount of excess material around the mid-section is an unfortunate scene witnessed all too often.
The original and modern trench coats designed by Burberry and other reputable designers never meant the coat to engulf the man in material. The trench is meant to be worn as any other outerwear item – form fitting and flattering to the wearer’s particular body type and frame.
Shorter men will do themselves an injustice by wearing a floor length trench which embellishes their vertical challenges. Also, taller men who wear a trench too short may end up showing too much leg and looking as if his upper body is disproportionate to his lower half.
The most flattering length for a trench is 3-4 inches above the wear’s knee, with a nipped waist and proper length sleeves that are neither too short to show the shirt or suit sleeves with hands resting at the sides; but neither too long covering the hands and making the man looking childish.
While this shorter version of coat may expose the legs to the weather, this problem can be solved by wearing heavier weight trousers and/or knee length boots such as these Wellington’s:
To Belt or Not To Belt
The decision to wear a belt or not is totally up to the man. However, the man must be aware of how each version will affect the shape of his body and his overall image. Athletically built mesomorphs and men with small waists can wear all three versions discussed previously to enhance their rectangular shape.
Alternatively, endomorphs with larger midsections and shorter limbs should opt for the unbelted option avoiding the horizontial lines a belt creates that cuts their body in half and disrupts the viewer’s eye from traveling up and down the body fluidly. Ectomorphs are able to wear belted or unbelted versions however, their issue comes from the length or the lack therefore of the coat itself.
Tall and lean men should avoid the shorter and longer versions of the trench. Instead they should opt for a knee length version in order to distract the viewer’s eye from their abnormal height. Wearing a belted version will also accomplish this by allowing the viewer to break up the wearer’s body and create the illusion of heft and adding bulk to their thin frame.
Trench Coat Color
Today, men’s trenches come in all colors and shades. However, the proper color for a classic men’s trench is khaki or beige.
This is the gold standard of trenches. While the modern trench can be seen in almost any color of the color wheel, a well-dressed gent will most assuredly have a khaki trench.
When the wet weather hits; a man should know how to cover up in a trench.