By Alex Hansen
Return of the Mac! No, I’m not talking about that catchy Macklemore song, but rather the trench coat, the versatile fashion staple that lives in almost every closet. The trench coat is almost bi-polar with its versatility, it is professional and businesslike, but can also be sexy and sultry when paired with some killer stilettos. It is also apparently the go to for spies, streakers, and flashers. The allure of the trench coat is that of enticement and mystery, no one knows what the wearer has underneath! From World War I to the catwalk, the classic trench coat takes basic military clothing to a fashion staple!
The origins of the trench coat come from quite a conflicted story, as with every great invention comes a debate about who exactly was the inventor. There are two houses in question as to whom is credited with the coveted title of inventor of the now beloved trench. First off is a little known design house called Aquascutum, who dates their trench coat back to 1853 when the company invented waterproof wool to be made into tough coats for officers fighting in the Crimean War. The next house that claims to have invented the trench coat is a fashion powerhouse that you may have heard of, Burberry, the fashion tycoon that is today synonymous with the classic trench and its many modern renditions of the timeless piece. Thomas Burberry created gabardine in the 1870s, a durable wool material that repelled water, was crease proof, and ultimately cool and comfortable for the wearer. Then in 1901, the house is credited with designing an army officer’s raincoat, said to be the predecessor to the trench we now know and love. Even though the origins of the “true inventor” of the trench can be debated upon, both houses designed coats for military use in the First World War and two eras.
This particular garment in this water-proof fabric was ideal for soldiers because it kept them warm and dry, and had pockets for them to carry essentials. This baby was hard to keep in the trenches (quite frankly I’m glad it made it out!) and soon spilled over from the military into mainstream fashion when the government handed out the overstock to civilians. The trench quickly became a favorite amongst the gentlemen of the city and fashion and film sector. It was a top choice for leading men such as Humphrey Bogart in Casablanca and Harrison Ford in Blade Runner as well as for leading ladies such as Audrey Hepburn in Breakfast at Tiffany’s (who can forget the alley scene with Holly and Paul at the end!). The trench coat undoubtedly became a favorite due to its versatility and just-plain awesomeness!
Today the classic trench remains a double breasted, belted coat in khaki but now many designers play with the length and color of the garment often adding a variety of hardware such as studs or grommets. Burberry has stood the test of the time and is known for its amazing craftsmanship and quality of the garment. Celebrities, royalty, and us plain folk still wear the iconic trench coat today, making it a fashion staple with such prestige as the little black dress.
Foreman, K. (2013, October 24). The trench: a coat for all seasons. BBC. Retrieved from http://www.bbc.com/culture/story/20131024-the-trench-coat-for-all-seasons
Boy and Girl Burberry Ad retrieved from: http://allhailtheblogger.blogspot.com/2011/12/christmas-wish-list.html
Celebrity Trench Coat retrieved from: http://secretsofagoodgirl.com/fashion/trench-coats/
Eighties Blue Trench retrieved from: http://www.etsy.com/listing/114764220/aquamarine-dream-vintage-80s-emerald
Holly and Paul, Breakfast at Tiffany’s retrieved from: http://cocoacouture1.blogspot.com/2012/07/breakfast-at-tiffanys-timeless-trench.html
Rosie Burberry Ad retrieved from: http://www.nikecomm.com/Burberry-Fragrance
Vintage Male Trench Coat retrieved from: http://fashionlovingstylist.com/tag/trench-coats/