A Traditional Trench

If it can handle the cruel conditions of WWI, it can handle your rainy-day commute to work.
Photo: Corbis

Michael Caine had one and so should you.

As with GPS navigation, the microwave oven, and that yellow Hummer that’s always taking up two spaces when you need to park, we have war to thank for the existence of the trench coat. And while the style takes its name from the bloody trenches of World War I, it’s actually based on the waterproof Tielocken coat that Thomas Burberry made for officers in the Boer War of 1899-1902. A hundred years later, the style is less associated with sodden British generals than with generations of style icons, from Bogey to the Mods to Paul Newman to the Walther PPK-toting guy on the right.

Most things worthy of the name Essential represent a compelling blend of function and form, and the trench is no exception. A proper version will be made of gabardine, a water-resistant, tightly woven twill with a smooth face and ribbed back, which was famously invented by Thomas Burberry. The coat will be double breasted, to better keep out the damp chill, and it will be equipped with D rings (originally meant for holding maps and swords, not hand grenades), as well as a sturdy belt. It will be roomy enough for easy movement, but not baggy. Befitting its military provenance, it will also feature epaulets. And while trench coats are available in a multitude of hues, from black to gray to midnight blue, if you invest in just one, it should be khaki—which, incidentally, is another military invention gone civilian.

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  2. Boaz says:

    It’s an essential item a mostly cause it works with almost any style, whether its casual sporting jeans and long T or a business suit, no matter what your style is or what mood are you in be it classic or contemporary – there is a room for the trench in your wardrobe.
    That is why In this last NY fashion week almost every designer showed a trench in their collection for spring 2011, with some that were quite funky in colors and shapes….actually the sleeves trench version was kind of cool.
    Check it out and get some more trench dressing tips on

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