This time of year might be drab and grey, but there are upsides to early spring – particularly when it comes to your wardrobe. It’s still cool enough to wear multiple layers, and the inclement weather lends itself to wrapping up in big, impressive raincoats.
The most impressive 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’s sharpest style icons, 1980s city slickers and everyone in between. After a brief spell out in the cold (excuse 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 definitely more Get Carter than The Pink Panther, together with our styling pointers for each. Read it and go forth, good readers; turn heads at will.
1. Burberry slate blue gabardine trenchcoat
In many ways this is the quintessential trench. Naturally, it was designed by Burberry’s menswear wizards and made in the brand’s dedicated trenchcoat workshop in northern England. In a classic double-breasted, knee-length style, it features a thick belt, storm flaps to soak-up torrential rain across the shoulders and back, buttoning side welt pockets and a deep centre vent. It’s finished with Burberry’s house check lining too, which pops against the coat’s blue-grey gabardine cloth.
Better still, it’s an archive-inspired design that also feels fashion-forward. It’s proportions have been subtly trimmed-down for a contemporary fit and feel. The two-tone blue-grey colour is a chic choice, too. It’ll sit comfortably over anything from a burgundy rollneck and navy blazer combination, to a dark corduroy shirt worn with earthy brown cotton chinos. Keep things simple and finish with navy suede sneakers for a cool look.
£1,595, shop now, exclusive to Mr Porter
2. Aquascutum navy ‘Bogart’ trenchcoat
The beige trenchcoat is a timeless classic, but if it’s a mean look you’re after, dark colours are a better bet. Moreover, the Aquascutum ‘Bogart’ trench is as mean as it gets. It’s cut to the same pattern that the great Humphrey Bogart wears in Casablanca, and although it comes in beige, we think it’s razor sharp in dark navy. It’s made in Aquascutum’s workshop in Corby, 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. Aquascutum finishes all its coats with a checked under-collar too, so you can flash your style credentials at other British menswear aficionados.
This is a trench to rock over a sharp suit, whether you’re wearing a classic poplin formal shirt and tie or a merino rollneck beneath. Let your inner Michael Caine out and try it with a crisp navy tonic suit, or a timeless grey double-breasted suit for a look that’ll make you the envy of 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 big and bad.
£850, shop now
3. Grenfell green despatch rider
The despatch rider has an interesting backstory. It was designed for military motorcycle messengers during the First World War, so they could run intel between lines and keep their orders dry. Authentic reproductions are rare today, which makes Grenfell’s all the more special.
Made in the brand’s Leytonstone factory, this coat features a sizeable vertical despatch pocket on the chest, plus all the other touches you’d expect of a proper trench: belt, storm-flaps, buckling cuffs, the lot. Note also the brass press stud closure and miniature buckle on the coat’s front quarters; an historical detail designed to stop it flapping in miserable weather. It’s cut in Grenfell’s revolutionary ‘Grenfell cloth’, too. This is a tightly woven gabardine that was the first naturally water repellent cotton cloth in the world. It’s so weatherproof, Grenfell still weaves it to original specifications today.
How would we wear it? Well, the army green colour’s a useful one to work into your wardrobe and will sit comfortably over navy, grey and brown – easy. The style is as imposing as can be, so it’s worth keeping everything else simple. Think classic crewnecks, soft flannel shirts in dark colours, and tapered chinos in tobacco or navy. Heavy duty ankle boots are a must with a coat like this, and work with its military reference points. Opt for dark brown full-grain leather, in a utilitarian Derby style. Pop the coat’s collar and throw a cream knitted scarf over the top for good measure. If in doubt, just think ‘fighter pilot’.
£950, shop now
4. Coherence for Drake’s Corb II raincoat
Now, this isn’t strictly a trench, but it is a serious raincoat. You’ll doubtless have come across Drake’s before, but 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 tricky to find in the UK (props to Drake’s for stocking it). Managed by Creative Director Kentaro Nakagomi, Coherence makes raincoats inspired by outerwear seen on early and mid-20th century artists. The Corb II is a raglan sleeve style inspired by a coat worn by Le Corbusier. The generous A-line silhouette, turn-back cuffs and idiosyncratic pockets are all copied directly from black and white 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 pull it on. You’d be silly not to pair it with a Drake’s scarf (we love their linen and silk prints in dark colours), and keep in mind that 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 for a bohemian look – but be sure to avoid any puddles if you do.
One final thought for you: if you treat yourself to the Corb II, you’ll be an early Coherence adopter – and trust me, in the style stakes that makes you that little bit cooler than everyone else.
£950, shop now