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Do You Know How to Choose the Best Men's Trench Coats?

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Section: Inclement Weather Wear - Blog

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Ah, the functionality of the old school trench coat. It’s a classic - every man needs one in his wardrobe arsenal. However, while it is a versatile piece of outerwear, today’s contemporary styling touches transform this timeless workhouse into fashion forward masterpieces that will have you channeling your inner Bogart in high style.

While the modern trench coat has evolved from its traditional military roots, its sleek, new design does not detract from its practicality. Trench coats are better suited to rainy weather than leather jackets or pea coats, and as far as fashion goes, a well-fitted trench coat is a classier option than a bulky parka.

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Refined without looking fussy, it pairs as well with your men’s suits as it does withsmart casual men's wear. Here’s our recommendations for picking the best colours and styles to satisfy your needs.

Trenchcoat Fabrics

  • Wool Gabardine: Gabardine was the fabric of choice for earlier trenchcoat versions because the dense weave repelled water. Fashionably finished with silk linings, these coats were lightweight, functional and handsome. Initially sold only to British officers – who possessed considerable spending power – today, wool gabardine is only used upon request for high-end or custom trenchcoats. Trenchcoats made from gabardine are impractical for mass sale because of their high costs.
  • Cotton Fabric: Other early versions of the trenchcoat were made from heavy-duty khaki drill. Today, however, it is more common to use cotton woven with poplin or twill. While cotton does not retain heat, it is durable and can be water-resistant if treated. It is also cheaper than wool and readily available. Cotton, along with a blend of manmade fibres that enhance weather resistance and reduce costs, are the textiles of choice for making trenchcoats today.
  • Leather Trenchcoats: A relatively modern variation, this type of coat is heavier and warmer than trenchcoats made from cotton or woollen fabric. Leather repels dirt and water and is easier to clean, which is why these are so popular.

Trenchcoat Colours

Khaki is the traditional colour for trenchcoats, although varieties of ivory and tan are also available. Dark coloured trenchcoats are more practical, since they require less cleaning. While there is some debate about whether darker colours are sophisticated, we recommend them because they are practical and complement men with dark features.

Trenchcoat Styles

Trenchcoat styles haven't changed much since its inception.Because trenchcoats are such timeless classics, they never become dated and are always a sound investment. Some common style features are:

  • Double-Breasted Front Style: The classic trenchcoat is double-breasted and features a 6-10 button front closure, depending on the length. Our recommendation? Always choose a double-breasted trenchcoat over the single-breasted variety.
  • Single Back Vent: Traditionally, trenchcoats had a single vent to give soldiers room to run across the battlefield while ensuring protection from strong winds. While you probably won't find yourself dashing across a battle field, you'll enjoy the free range of motion a vent provides.
  • Raglan Sleeves: Raglan sleeves are more relaxed, offer a greater range of motion, and make the jacket feel comfortable when worn with multiple layers of clothing.
  • Epaulets (Shoulder Tabs): These allowed officers to attach rank insignia without damaging the coat. They are probably irrelevant for today's trenchcoats, but they do add charm and flair to the coat's appearance.
  • Storm (Gun) Flap: This protective flap prevents water from slipping into the jacket as it runs down the shoulders. It effectively serves as a cap and keeps the wearer dry – as long as he has appropriate headwear.
  • Detachable D-Ring Belt: This enables the wearer to adjust the jacket's torso and gives him the ability to carry a firearm or a utility pouch.
  • Cuff Straps: These straps are used to tighten the fit and keep the rain out.

How Should a Trenchcoat Fit?

Trenchcoats should be large enough to be worn over suit jackets or heavy sweaters. Try on the coat and button it completely. The shoulders should extend out past your natural shoulders by a half to one inch (to allow room for atailor made men's suit jacket).

Additionally, you should be able to fit a full fist in the chest area while having full arm movement. The sleeves should be worn two to four inches longer than a suit jacket's sleeves, or to about the pinch on your hand.

Trenchcoat lengths range from 37-45 inches. There are no "right" lengths for trenchcoats, therefore, you should choose a length based on your body type. Tall, large men should consider longer coats that fall below the knee, while shorter men should select coats that fit above the knee and are closely tailored. This is because a shorter coat or longer coat is more proportional to their body build.

While it rare to be able to make a trenchcoat larger by altering it, they can usually be made smaller in the torso and/or shortened about three inches (at the most). If you do can't find a good fit in a trenchcoat, we recommend you buy a slightly larger size.

Purchasing Your Trenchcoat

  • Used Trenchcoats: Buying a used trenchcoat can be time consuming, but it can provide you with some fantastic deals. Avoid large marketplaces, like Ebay, as product quality is difficult to verify, and there is no use spending good money on an inferior product. Better options are to browse thrift stores like the Goodwill and the Salvation Army. You are more likely to find quality materials at throwaway prices, and as a bonus, you can feel good about aiding a charitable cause.
  • New Trenchcoats: Buying a new trenchcoat is more expensive, especially if you plan to purchase something like an authentic Burberry. However, buying an established brand, like a Burberry, is a guarantee of getting a quality garment from a solid company with an excellent reputation and a strong warranty.
  • Custom made Trenchcoats: Buying a custom trenchcoat can be slightly more affordable than buying a Burberry. In addition to providing a perfect fit, you could have it customised to suit your unique features and style options. Imagine this, for example: a historically accurate trenchcoat with space for iPads and other high tech accessories.

Military Origins

Thomas Burberry designed a Tielocken coat for British officers in the Boer War. They were referred to by their creator's name and made from gabardine, which is an innovative, durable wool fabric designed to repel water and keep the wearer warm but ventilated.

Only officers could wear these coats, and they had to purchase them privately, as they were not part of the standard uniform. In World War I, Burberry redesigned the coat and added D-rings and shoulder straps. During the trench warfare in World War I, these coats kept their wearers warm in the cold weather by utilising a wool blanket insert; they also doubled up as emergency sleeping systems. In World War II, trenchcoats were issued to men in uniform across Britain, Russia and the US. However, they were overshadowed by the more specialised and typically shorter jackets, tailored to the needs of different battle units.

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As we mentioned earlier, a trench coat is a stylish way to protect your investment in your men's suits and casual wear. If you're in the market for some new outfits, pop into our Sydney showroom orschedule a private consultation with one of our style experts. We'll have you channeling Bogart in no time at all!

Image Credits © Konradbak | Dreamstime.com

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