Trench coats definitely aren’t just for the boys! This popular style of men’s outerwear is one that has seamlessly transitioned into the world of women's wear and is here to stay. Trench coats look equally amazing on women, giving them an air of elegance and class. Even though this was originally a men’s military coat (the name literally originated from the trenches of World War I), it somehow doesn’t look the least bit masculine or even androgynous. It’s a timeless design that has stood the test of time, so you know you’ll be reaching for yours again and again! Come with us through this style guide and learn how to wear a trench coat.
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What is a Trench Coat?
As we mentioned, trench coats have military origins. But they actually morphed from raincoats! The military starting wearing them because of their comfortable and practical design. Soldiers loved the durable, water-resistant gabardine cotton fabric that was able to protect them from the harsh weather. Besides the fabric (invented by Thomas Burberry), trench coats are famous for their double-breasted silhouettes, belts, wide lapels, and military details like epaulettes, storm flaps and pockets, and a back vent for ease of movement. Women began wearing trench coats after World War II, when there was a surplus of military clothing. They were popularized by Hollywood stars like Marlene Dietrich, Marilyn Munroe, Brigitte Bardot, and Audrey Hepburn - who can forget the final scene in Breakfast At Tiffany’s where Hepburn’s Holly Golightly has a rain-soaked kiss, wearing nothing but a trench coat?
The style has stayed in fashion ever since. Over a hundred years later and Burberry and Aquascutum are still best-known for their trench coats. Modern British style icons like Kate Moss, Cara Delevingne, and Alexa Chung can regularly be spotted wearing this iconic heritage style (although its popularity reaches far beyond the UK). It’s the perfect combination of practical and stylish, especially as a transitional coat in the fall and spring. The trench coat has definitely reached fashion staple status, so if you don’t have one yet you should!
Trench Coat Styles
Like any piece of clothing that has been around for decades, the trench coat has evolved over time. Especially when the design gets remade for the opposite sex. Nowadays there are many variations of the trench coat from simply being single-breasted to being made of colorful patterned silk. It’s up to you to decide which trench coat will be perfect for you, but we will do our best to help!
Some women may shy away from trench coats because of their military and menswear origins, but rest assured that any woman can find a flattering trench coat! There are so many different types of trench coats that there is definitely one to suit your body type. Let's see how each different trench coat length responds to each need.
Short Trench Coat
This is a trench coat that falls from just below the hip to mid-thigh length. Short trench coats are a good option for petite women, as it won’t look bulky or shorten legs (make sure you’re styling it with skinny bottoms though). However, if you’re petite and curvy go for a longer length. Trench coats that are too short might make you look wider than you actually are. Tall women should avoid short trench coats as they may awkward as if some fabric is missing.
Medium Trench Coat
The most common type of trench coat for women, these hit around knee length. This a good choice as it is flattering on most body types - regular height, tall, slim, or curvy. Even petite and curvy girls may prefer this style to a short trench coat.
Full length Trench Coat
These trench coats fall anywhere from below the knee to ankle length. Long trench coats the most dramatic style, but you’d be surprised how many people can pull it off! It just takes confidence. Tall women can definitely rock long trench coats, but shorter girls shouldn’t shy away. Long coats can actually work very well for petite women: they create a long line that lengthens the legs. Just make sure to go for full-length (hitting the ankle or slightly above) rather than below the knee, as that will cut off your legs in a strange place. Stick to a lightweight fabric and make sure you are wearing visibly high waisted bottoms underneath - this creates the leg-lengthening effect. A mini skirt or dress also works. And remember, at sumissura, we can make the trench coat the length you just want. If you want an ankle length trench coat, we can do that!
Double Breasted vs Single Breasted Trench Coat
This is the traditional cut of a trench coat, so most of them will be double-breasted (the extra fabric adds warmth and protection). However, you can find feminine styles that are single-breasted or even buttonless. The double-breasted silhouette can be tricky - it was originally designed to make men’s torsos look broader. So it may make your chest look bigger than it actually is, which may or may not be a good thing. Opt for a single-breasted or buttonless version (note the buttonless versions usually have open lapels) if you don’t want your chest to look extra bulky.
Colors & Fabric on Trench Coats.
Modern trench coats come in all sorts of colors and fabrics. You can find every color from classic camel to neon pink. The fabrics also greatly vary: there are wool and leather ones for the winter or breezy silk ones made as spring and summer cover-ups. It’s up to you if you’d like a practical one or a statement piece. Remember that the traditional cotton gabardine version in a neutral color such as camel, grey, navy, or black will be more timeless and easy to style, but if you love statement pieces then choose what’s best for you.
How to Style a Trench Coat
Trench coats are a wonderfully versatile item. They look equally great styled casually or formally and withstand many different types of weather. You might want to reach for something heavier in the dead of winter (unless you live somewhere very temperate), but otherwise, it makes an excellent layering piece in the fall and spring. So, do you want to learn when to wear a trench coat? Answer is easy. It can be worn any time if weather conditions allow it.
Casual Trench Coats
Trench coats look great styled with jeans and a t-shirt or sweater. It’s a fashion blogger/model-off-duty favourite, so try it on your next day off! You can also play around with the top: dress up the look with a slightly unbuttoned blouse or put a spin on the Canadian tuxedo look by wearing a denim shirt. If you want to go ultra-casual, wear a hoodie or sweatshirt. Your shoes can also majorly change the feel of your outfit: stay casual with sneakers, or dress things up a bit with loafers, ballet flats, pumps, or ankle boots. You can also choose to wear a simple cotton or sweater dress underneath instead of jeans.
Trench Coats for Work
If your office has a business formal dress code, it can be hard to find outerwear that matches. Not the trench coat! It looks great paired with smart sheath dresses, blouses and pencil skirts, or even pantsuits. No matter what length trench coat you choose, you know it will be long enough to comfortably hide your blazer. Plus, you’ll look like an Old Hollywood star when you leave the office wrapped in your trench coat and a slick pair of heels.
Like business clothes, not a lot of outerwear looks good with formal wear like cocktail dresses and evening gowns. If a fur coat is too much for you, then definitely go for a trench coat over your dress (you’ll get more wear out of it anyway!). It’ll keep you warm and protect your dress at your next wedding, cocktail party, or gala. Stars like Marillon Cotillard and Blake Lively swear by it.
We wish you liked this trench coat style guideline and you learned how to wear a trench. It’s not hard to see why so many women love trench coats. So what are you waiting for? Join the trench club team!