The women’s trench coat was introduced into the 1920s and 1930s fashion lexicon when newly liberated women desired a crisp outwear alternative to pair with Coco Chanel’s menswear-inspired creations.
In the decades following this British invasion of outerwear, the trench coat remained a fashion choice for leggy models and secret agents (who were the only style patrons able to wear a belted coat adorned with D-rings, epaulets and flaps easily.)
Thanks to the multitude of women’s trench coat options now available at all prices, styles and sizes, the luxury-loving well-dressed woman and the recessionista, can both sport a luxe and fabulously smashing must-have trench.
The origin of the trench coat
In the 1820s, a Scottish chemist concocted an innovative method to weatherproof fabric using rubber: and the trench coat was born.
Men donned the dapper trench coat–thanks to the skilled craftsmanship of Thomas Burberry–while serving in the military trenches of World War I or channeling Inspector Clouseau.
For the fashion fanatics, here are few famous cinematic moments in women’s trench coat history:
In 1948, Marlene Dietrich wore a trench coat in the movie, A Foreign Affair.
In 1958, Sophia Lauren wrapped herself in a classic trench coat for the movie, The Key.
In 1979, Meryl Streep wore women’s trench coat in the movie, Kramer vs. Kramer.
What to look for when buying women’s trench coats
- Fit– If you are petite or plus sized, beware of the belted coat; it can make you look larger and shorter. Instead, select a single-breasted trench coat without epaulets and double-breasted closures.
- To ensure that the coat is not too snug, raise your hands over your head to prevent any issues with discomfort or pulling.
- Length – French coats styles vary from three-quarter length to a coat ending at the waist or hips. Select a trench coat that will appear equally stylish over long dresses and jeans for maximum impact and versatility. Most importantly, the sleeves of the trench coat should cover your wrist bones and the pockets should lay flat.
- Cost – Trench coats prices range from $35 for a cotton Old Navy coat to upwards of $4,500 or more for a designer’s latest stylish incarnation of outerwear.
- Because a trench coat is a basic wardrobe item that ever woman should own, pick a coat that you can wear for more that one season and determine the price based upon the cost per wearing formula.
How to wear a trench coat
Belt it over trousers, a turtleneck or a pencil skirt. Or pair it with jeans and a colorful t-shirt for a quick trip to the movies or a casual first date.
However, you decide to wear a women’s trench coat, I encourage you to purchase the item that makes you look slim and sleek.
For modern women who covet a season less wardrobe staple to beat the raindrops and add a little glamour to your coat collection, use these timeless trench coat suggestions to wrap yourself in a chic coat that has a storied European past but a bright and glorious future.