The trench coat was first developed as an alternative to the heavy coats worn by British and French soldiers during the First World War. It is unclear who first created the trench coat, as the invention is claimed by both Burberry and Aquascutum.
During World War One, it became an optional dress item for British Army officers, available by private purchase to signify their rank. The popularity of the trench coat increased up to the Second World War, at which point many nations had started wearing them, including the USA and the Soviet Union.
The typical trench coat would be double breasted, with 10 buttons down the front and a belt buckle. The long coat would reach below the knee, and was designed to be worn as a windbreaker, or a rain jacket, rather than to provide any warmth.
The trench coat, clearly intended to cope with the living conditions in trenches, was very popular from the off. The trenches where soldiers had to spend many of their days were disease ridden, full of rats and lice, and very confined spaces when you consider how many men had to live down there.
The trench coat provided some protection against this. Its length meant the men could be cleaner, and that rats and other animals were less likely to be able to get into their uniforms. They also provided a clearer social distinction between the officers and the rest of the soldiers, as the trench coat signified they were better off and could afford an improved uniform.
Trench Coats Now
Since both the wars ended, the trench coat evolved to move from a piece of military uniform, to a fashion item. Women found it very attractive immediately afterwards, as it related to men who had survived the war, and fought successfully for their country.
The trench coat then gained even more popularity by being worn in many films, including Casablanca and The Pink Panther. Following this, popularity could only increase, and as it became available to everyone – not just ex-army officers – everyone wanted to buy one. Not only did it signify a reminder of the war, but also proved the wearer had an eye for fashion.
Trench coats are now available in many styles and colours, and can be worn as casual wear, or over a suit and tie. Great outerwear gives your whole outfit a smarter, more unique look, and trench coats to just that. Their versatility makes them an essential wardrobe must-have, especially as we leave summer and the weather gets wetter and colder.
Mainline Menswear stocks an extensive range of coats and jackets, including a number of trench coats ideal for a slightly old fashioned style. If you want to get a new winter essential for the colder months, visit our website here to browse our stock.