The Trench Coat Spectrum

Beth on what color, cut, and button style might be best.
You're hovering a bit there bucko.Ask A Woman:  Drenched in a trench

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Hey Beth,

Its been raining a lot recently and I have been mulling over a light trench coat purchase. Do you have recommendations for color and design (double breasted, belted, etc..) that would be versatile enough for the weekends, but still work appropriate? Are there considerations I should make for my height (5′ 8″) and build (less than athletic, but not slim either). Also, what are your views on hooded trench coats? Major no-no? Or is this one of those cases were utility begets style?

Best,

Josh

 

Hi Josh,

I LOVE A TRENCH.  All the coolest people wear trenches: Inspector Gadget, Princess Kate, my friend Jean when she met her boyfriend at the airport–with nothing on underneath, the one-armed man in The Fugitive…wait a minute, I seem to have gone off track.  Anyway, everyone looks good in a trench coat, so I’m glad you asked about it, Josh.

As with everything (I feel like a broken record), fit and cut are key.  Trenches are available in different lengths–mid-thigh, at the knee, shin-length–but I think the best look is above the knee.  Longer-length trenches seem to cut people in half and make them look like Danny Devito.  To figure out how the trench will hit your body, you’ll want to try on coats in-store when available, or make sure you get free shipping and free returns when ordering online, or take note of the from-the-shoulder measurement if provided.

Dude.  That could be YOU.
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I’d definitely recommend double-breasted.  The single breasted versions just look odd to my eye, almost feminine, but that could very well be because I’m more accustomed to seeing the double-breasted coats.  The belted coats may be more flattering, since they’ll give you the appearance of a waist that narrows, whereas the non-belted versions are a straight down, boxier look.  But if you have a substantial middle-section, a belt right there might produce a sort of squeezed-sausage casing look.  So try both styles on–which one makes you look best?  For color, it’s a no-brainer: the classic light khaki or stone.  Yes, they have navy and olive and grey, but then the garment doesn’t even look like a trench anymore.  It’s just a pea coat or a plain old jacket.  If you really want the trench coat look, go for the classic color.  The hooded trench coat?  No dice.  I agree that clothing should serve its intended purpose, but a hood on a trench looks goofy and ruins that nice straight line that a trench normally produces in profile.  Carry an umbrella instead.

The Trench Spectrum.  From traditional to not-so-much: Ralph Lauren – $170 w/ SHINE, Banana Republic – $225, London Fog – $67.99 w/ SHINE, Alfani Red – $71.99 w/ SHINE

What’s nice about turning to classic items like the trench coat is that they’re almost always appropriate.  Going to work?  The trench works.  Happy Hour?  The trench won’t let you down.  Running errands?  The trench likes the grocery store.  So I think if you choose a trench coat in a classic cut and color, you’ll be satisfied with it for years to come.  It’s really an investment piece– which is good because trenches tend to run pretty pricey.  Wowzers!

-Beth

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