the stylish trenchcoat

The Stylish Trenchcoat

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I bought my first trenchcoat last year in a Budapest second hand store. Even though it’s a piece that should be a part of any capsule, male or female, for a long time, I didn’t own one. The reason for this is simple. I live in a city where the transition from summer to winter is very sudden, or as we say, we go straight from boots to sandals. For a long time I wouldn’t buy a trenchcoat because I knew I wouldn’t be able to wear it often. However, our climate has changed in the past few years, our winters are both warmer and shorter and have become ideal trenchcoat weather. 

As I already said, last year I bought my first trenchcoat, but now I see that I had no idea how to pick out a trenchcoat, no knowledge and experience about what material it should be made of, how it should be made and the history of the trenchcoat. Therefore my trenchcoat has some shortcomings. It’s made out of a cotton and polyester mix and its lining is a cheap copy of the original Burberry vintage trenchcoats. This is why it’s important when deciding to buy a piece to research it thoroughly so you can get the best value for your money. 

When I used to think of trenchcoats, the first thought that came to my mind was France and all the stylish French men and women who wear trenchcoats. For a long time, I believed the trenchcoat was a French invention, which is not so. This is why it’s important to read up and research the history of fashion. 

In 1856, Thomas Burberry opened a small textile store in Basingstoke, Hampshire called Burberry and Sons. Basingstoke was a small town of about 4500 at the time. Thomas Burberry spent hist time mostly fishing, riding horses and agricultural work when he wasn’t in his store. Thanks to this, he understood the clothing needs of his fellow Basingstokians, who were mostly farmers, and so he decided to sell everyday clothes. His business began growing. A few years later, he was able to hire more people and open a factory. During this period, the Mackintosh raincoat was very popular. It was made of rubber, had no ventilation and was very inflexible. Thomas Burberry wanted to make a modern coat that’d shield against both hot and cold. 

After a long period of research and testing, he invented gabardine, a composite textile made of linen, wool, Egyptian cotton and Lanolin. The result was amazing. The material was lightweight, breathed easily and offered protection against wind and rain. He used this material to make coats which were a great success. 

Since many military officers bought and wore his coats, the British armed forces contracted Thomas Burberry to design the officer uniforms for the Navy and Army. He designed a knee-length raincoat, coloured khaki and made out of gabardine. With the following years, he kept improving the coat design. When the United Kingdom entered the Great War, Burberry would once again be contracted to design raincoats for the Royal Air Force and Royal Navy. In the past, the British Army used to wear long, heavy coats made of wool. These coats were not suitable for the trenches. They were too long and often got wet and dirty, so the soldiers would cut off the lower end of the coat. Later the Army moved to the Mackintosh raincoat, due to its resistance to rain, but this was still not an ideal solutions. Soldiers would sweat and chafe in these rubber coats.
Thomas Burberry would improve his coat to make it more practical. He added epaulettes on the shoulders, to display the wearer’s rank. A pistol fold was added to the chest piece, as well as a waterproof layer, so that the water would flow down instead of gather in the chest area. The coat’s belt had added rings where the soldier could hook maps, masks, or anything else he needed. The colour was khaki, which helped soldiers stay camouflaged on the battlefields, unlike the older uniforms which had more striking colours and thus made them easier to spot. More than half a million British soldiers wore these coats in the Great War and that’s how they came to be called The Burberry Trenchcoats. 

The trenchoat’s popularity hasn’t waned with the years. Many men and women wear and love it. Original Burberry trenchcoats go for 1000 euro or more. Of course, if you can’t afford or can’t find an original, my favourite option is to look for a vintage, second hand trenchcoat. When shopping, always check the label to learn the material it’s made of. The best are 100% gabardine, but a polyester-cotton mix is also acceptable, if the polyester percentage is lower than the cotton percentage. The polyester-heavy mixes should always be avoided, as they’ll come with a whole slew of problems. Always check the inside and outside of the coat, check the buttons, if there are any loose ends, the seams. These details all speak to the quality of the trenchcoat. 

This coat is easy to match and can be easily worn with casual clothes. It can also be combined with more formal outfits, especially if it’s in a darker colour. Definitely a piece of clothing which you should add to your capsule. 

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“capsule” does that mean wardrobe or suitcase?

It refers to wardrobe, the practice of buying and wearing clothes that all go with one another. It’s described in the linked article called “Living in Style.”

I bought a second hand trench coat off this 70 year old man with his face covered entirely in tattoos. I think he must’ve been some kind of crook back in his day. The coat has those false pockets that I can only assume are for surprise knife attacks or a concealed pistol.

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