Dress Code: Trench Coat

Dear Friends & Readers

This new series is all about fashion and style.  There are so many brands out there that you can buy clothes at every price point and for every budget. But will those clothes look good on you? Will they last more than a season?  I know all the readers of this website are fashionable enough to know what to wear and when. So this series only serves as inspiration if and when you don’t know what to wear but you have a closet full of clothes. You can use this section as a mood board for tips to breath new life into your closet. Today we begin with the perfect spring staple: the trench coat. Proof that the most utilitarian piece of clothing can be  comfortable and feminine, the trench coat is also the most versatile piece of clothing in your coat closet.

The History:

Blame it on the Brits who are already responsible for my other favorite fall, the duffel jacket also known as Montgomery. Born out of necessity as a part of military uniforms in WWI it has percolated into the daily habits of English men. Then Ingrid Bergman, Catherine Deneuve and Audrey Hepburn started wearing trench coats (along with many Hitchcock blondes). From the 50s onward the trench coat has taken center stage in women’s wardrobes everywhere. Today you can find trench coats at every price point and in every color.

The Colors:

I am fond of the basic beige, khaki and black versions that have the most longevity and can be dressed up or down. You can go for pastels or jewel tones but they may look outdated after a couple of seasons. The trench coat is so versatile that you don’t need crazy colors to wear something fun.

The Cut:

I am a sucker for any piece of clothing with a belted waist. It creates the optical illusion of longer legs and slimmer thighs.  The big problem I have with some trench coats is the length of the hem. Sometimes in the subway I see women with brand spanking new trenches who probably spent at least a paycheck on them and but the fit is just not right. The shoulders and sleeves should be fitted so that you can wear a jacket underneath but not be too baggy.  The length of the coat sound be not more that 2 inches above the knee. Too long and you’ll look like you are ready for the Matrix.

For the Gentlemen:

I love men wearing trench coats! And it’s not because I adore Peter Sellers playing Inspector Clouseau. Trench coat for men have evolved from the early military days. Since men usually wrinkle their clothes more (think of the look of Colombo’s raincoat) the best fabric you can hope for is a thick gabardine in dark beige/khaki. As for the cut I recommend raglan sleeves providing more room at the shoulders. If a double breasted trench is not your cup of tea, or if you are too tall and broad shouldered to wear on I recommend single breasted with or without a belt. Make sure that the trench coat is not too long: you want to look like Don Draper not a pale version of Neo!


Several brands make trench coats and the prices vary from $66 (Topshop on sale) to $1,800 (Burberry London full price).  My suggestion? A trench coat can be a great investment to enjoy for years to come, but if the price is too steep go for less expensive brands that use good quality fabrics (like J.Crew and Banana Republic) or check out vintage stores where you may find great bargains (just be aware of the amount of alteration that the garment may need to fit your needs). In the meantime you should check out the sales and see if there is something worth splurging for!