This time of year might be drab and grey, but there are upsides to late winter and early spring – particularly when it comes to your wardrobe. It’s cold enough to wear multiple layers, and the inclement weather lends itself to wrapping up in big, bad raincoats.
The baddest of all is the trenchcoat, the 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 four 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.
Better still, it’s an archive-inspired design that also feels fashion-forward. Its proportions have been subtly trimmed-down for a contemporary fit and feel. It’ll sit comfortably over pretty much anything from a burgundy knit and navy blazer combination, to a dark corduroy shirt worn with tan cotton chinos. Finish with navy suede sneakers for a sleek look.
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.
This is a trench to rock over a sharp suit, whether you’re wearing a classic poplin shirt and knitted tie or a merino polo beneath. Let your inner Michael Caine out and try it with a sharp navy tonic suit, or a timeless grey double-breasted suit for a look that’ll make you feel like a boss, no matter your actual role in the office. It’s generously sized, as per the original, so it’s advisable to take a size-down. Don’t worry, it’ll still look suitably villainous.
3. Grenfell ‘Hyde’ technical trench
This is our kind of menswear hybrid. Grenfell’s ‘Hyde’ trench coat mixes a classic cut with intriguing design features, most obviously the combination of gabardine and tweed. The gabardine element is a super-high-twist cotton fabric patented by Grenfell – it’s waterproof and yet totally untreated. The tweed is a smooth wool puppytooth check finished with a waterproof coating. The effect of combining the two cloths is striking, but it works. Finished with real leather football buttons and made in Grenfell’s Leytonstone factory, this is one cool coat.
How would we wear it? Well, its greeny/beige colour is a useful one to work into your wardrobe and will sit comfortably over navy, grey and brown. The style is busy, so it’s worth keeping everything else simple: think dark jersey crewnecks, flannel shirts in dark colours, and tapered chinos in tobacco or navy. Heavy duty ankle boots are a must with a coat like this too, and reflect its military reference points. Opt for dark burgundy full-grain leather, in a utilitarian Derby style. Look for thick welted soles, too.
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. You could pair it with a camelhair blazer, a tonal checked jacket or something cut in classic navy flannel. If you’re feeling brave, take it out with a pair of snuff suede loafers and roll-up the hems of your choices for a bohemian look – but be sure to avoid any puddles if you do.
Also bear in mind, if you treat yourself to one of these, you’ll be an early adopter – and trust me, in the menswear style stakes that makes you that little bit cooler than everyone else.