Trench Coat

AKA: A trench is a trench is a trench

How to say it: as it looks

Traditional Features: 

body template

  • raglan sleeves
  • 10 buttons
  • double-breasted
  • thigh – knee length
  • wide collar
  • storm flap
  • pockets that button close
  • self fabric belt
  • shoulder straps
  • buckles around cuffs
  • D-rings


…of the style: The trench coat, like so many other classic coats, has military origins. Two companies claim to be the inventor of the trench coat – Aquascutum claims their trench was introduced for officers in the Crimean War and dates back to the 1850s; while Burberry created an army officers raincoat for the British War Office in 1901.

Despite the opposing claims, both companies supplied their version of the trench coat to British Officers in WWI and after some changes were made (the shoulder straps and D-rings were added), the jacket morphed into the trench we know today.

The fact is, the iconic designs from both companies have the same essential features – double-breasted front, raglan sleeves, shoulder straps, belts at the waist and cuffs, storm flaps and D-rings on the belt. The main difference between the two is in the fabric; Aquascutum’s version was made from a waterproof cotton that was patented by the brands owner, John Emary, and Burberry’s coat was made from the gaberdine developed by Thomas Burberry (also waterproof).

The trench was also worn by officers in WWII and after the war crossed over to civilian fashion; thanks to military surplus stores, it’s appeal to the upper class hunting crowd and city gentlemen, and it adoption by heroes and villains of the silver screen.

Over the decades the trench has had many disciples – from the British Royal family in the 60s, to punks in the 70s, from business men, to detectives, flirters, flashers and film stars, the trench has a universal appeal and remains wardrobe staple for men and women to this day.

…of the name: It is called a trench coat because it was developed to be worn by British Officers in the trenches of WWI.

For more info on Trench Coats, try The Gentlemans Gazette,, The Toronto StandardWikipedia or just Google “History of the Trench Coat”

Random Facts

  • the traditional trench is made from 26 pieces of fabric
  • the legend that the D-rings on a trench coat belt were used to hold grenades is false – they were used to hold map cases and swords

21st Century Trench Coats

While companies like Burberry still make their trench coats to the traditional design – gaberdine and all, other brands have created their own interpretations in various colours and weights.

asos french connection givenchyburberry-double-breasted-trench-coat-with-princess-sleeves-profile

Top Row – ASOS, French Connection

Bottom Row – Givenchy, Burberry


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