The trenchcoat is a sturdy outerwear icon that’s been keeping sharply dressed men dry in one form or another since the 1910s. Originally a military upgrade of a long Edwardian civilian raincoat, trenchcoats were standard issue for the British army from 1912 onwards, but since have morphed into the go-to coat for early twentieth century motorists, 1930s gangsters, 1950s Hollywood style icons, 1980s city slickers and everyone in between. After a brief spell out in the cold (s’cuse the pun) during the noughties, they’re back in vogue and here to stay – much to our gratification.
So, here are the statement trenches that are guaranteed to impress, together with our styling pointers for each. Read it and go forth, good readers; turn heads at will.
1. Burberry ‘Camborne’ trenchcoat
In many ways this is the quintessential trench. Naturally, it was designed by Burberry’s outerwear team and made in the brand’s dedicated trenchcoat workshop in Northern England. In a classic double-breasted, knee-length style, it features a full belt, storm flaps that repel rain across the shoulders and back, and a deep centre vent. Even so, it stands apart from Burberry’s classic models thanks to its silver embossed military buttons and detachable liner. Wear with the liner buttoned in now, and lighten up come spring time.
2. Aquascutum ‘Bogart’ trenchcoat
Meet the seminal movie star trenchcoat. It’s cut to the same pattern that the great Humphrey Bogart wears in Casablanca, and although it comes in navy, we think it’s worth adhering to the classic beige version. It’s made in Aquascutum’s workshop in Corby, Northamptonshire, and features a wealth of heritage design details. Note the raglan sleeves fitted with epaulettes, buttoning throat tab to protect your nape from wet weather, oversized storm flaps and the impressive A-line shape; best brought in with the coat’s thick belt. Aquascutum finishes all its coats with a checked under-collar too, so you can subtly signal to other style aficionados.
3. Mackintosh oversized trenchcoat
Completing the trio of classic British rainwear manufacturers is Mackintosh. Its story started way back in the 19th century, when Charles Mackintosh invented a new method of waterproofing cotton. Since then, the brand has kitted out soldiers for both world wars, as well as British policemen and railway workers throughout the 20th century. But, despite its long history, it doesn’t restrict itself just to making classic macs and trenches (although these are great, too). In recent years it’s collaborated with the likes of Maison Martin Margiela, Vetements and Louis Vuitton, and its mainline collection also sees a number of design-led twists on classic trenches – such as this oversized number. From the front, it has all the original hallmarks – from the epaulettes and buckled belt to the horn buttons – but from the back things get a bit more interesting, with a statement checked panel (matching the buggy lining) that pulls the coat firmly into the 21st century.
4. Coherence AL II gabardine trenchcoat
Coherence is something of a best kept secret. It’s a Japanese brand (regular readers will know how much we love Japanese cult menswear), that’s still new to the UK. Managed by Creative Director Kentaro Nakagomi, Coherence only makes raincoats inspired by outerwear seen on early and mid-20th century bohemians. The AL II is an oversized style inspired by a coat worn by Albert Camus. The generous A-line silhouette, whopping collar and iridescent washed fabric are copied directly from photographs of the man himself. This is a thinking man’s classic – treat yourself and you’ll be able to wear it over anything. Just make sure you’re paying attention to the details when you throw it on. You’d be silly not to pair it with a voluminous Drake’s scarf (we love their floaty linen and silk prints in dark colours), and keep in mind that as a classic raincoat it’s cut to wear over a blazer or sports coat.
5. Acne Studios oversized trenchcoat
You can always count on Acne Studios for a modern take on a design classic. Not only has the Swedish brand reimagined the trad trench in rusty brown, but its generously oversized silhouette and raglan sleeves make for a slouchy, contemporary vibe. The large point collar and wide pockets are also a point of difference from the norm, but they’re anchored with the traditional D-ring belt that ties it all together. What’s more, the lightweight cotton twill will make an excellent choice for warmer British spring days, when showers are somewhat inevitably going to be on the horizon.
6. Cos bonded-linen trenchcoat
This cleverly designed trenchcoat from Cos is one that certainly belies its high street origins. Beautifully cut and minimal in feel, it’s a coat that nods to all the classic attributes of a trench, while remaining unmistakably fresh and modern: the wide lapels and sleeve straps nod to tradition, while the tie-belt is a riff on the classic that maintains the well-known silhouette. Somewhat unusually, it’s made from a bonded linen and cotton-blend fabric, which will keep light showers at bay while still feeling airy enough for a muggy spring day.