How To Buy A Trench Coat

March 6, 2013

“Trench coats are a basic wardrobe staple every woman should have in her outerwear closet!” I exclaim to all of my clients.

Grab your trench coat while you’re running out the door to work or with jeans and a tee on the weekends, or even throw it over your sweatpants for a late night trip to the grocery store…your style chic-i-ness will prevail each time with the perfect trench.

If you’re looking for the wellspring of trench coat inspiration, you’ve got to check out Burberry’s, The Art of The Trench. You can even join in and upload your own photograph.

No matter if it’s Burberry or Banana Republic, here are five crucial features to finding your best trench coat:

  1. Silhouette: A classic double-breasted design with a center belt flatters every body type.
  2. General Fit: Four key areas.
    • A great trench must have an overall fitted appearance that still permits your body to move freely (test by reaching arms up high and/or hugging yourself), plus allows enough room to be versatile to wear over a suit jacket, a sweater or a top underneath.
    • Shoulder seams must rest at farthest edge of your shoulder tips.
    • Closure button placket must not gape.
    • Backside vents must lay flat at all times.
  3. Length: Two key areas.
    • Trench coat lengths can vary. The standard length is two-inches above the knee. Wear no longer than mid-knee length.
    • Preferred sleeve lengths vary too. Sleeve length should be finished no longer than at the center of the meaty part of your thumb and no shorter than at the wristbone.
  4. Material: Water-resistant nylons and treated cottons are most durable, plus withstand rain and wind best.
  5. Details: Five key areas.
    • Tailor or knot-tie extra long belt buckles.
    • Buttons should never be placed awkwardly over nipple area…some are…really! (see image for perfect placement).
    • Opt for fully-functional, roomy side slant pockets.
    • Removable coat linings allow for versatility.
    • Traditional khaki colors are timeless, compliment most outfits and can be worn all year round. If you’re fair-skinned, wear a deeper khaki tone and if you’ve got a darker complexion, go for a lighter khaki tone.

Are you a trench coat enthusiast like me? Are there any additional favored features or tips you would recommend to readers?

Image credit: Burberry. Graphics by Kristina Moore for Corporate Fashionista.

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  • Anonymous

    I struggle with the epaulets question. On the one hand, they add some visual interest and (for folks with narrow shoulders) seem to add some balance, too. On the other hand, the seem too fussy for me. I welcome the thoughts of others . . . .

  • Great question! Classic epaulets are a good thing. In addition to adding some interesting detail to your trench coat, they also do some beneficial visual trickery too by drawing the focus towards them and away from both narrow and wide shoulders which makes the body appear more proportionate. Just make sure they lay flat and that your coat collar is not too wide. This will prevent them from looking fussy.