The Trench: A Timeless Classic
Following on from my article last week, where I showed you how to incorporate bold coloured tailoring into your outfits, I thought I would spend time developing another inspirational guide focussed around a piece that we have featured quite regularly on FashionBeans recently. This article was inspired by reading through the Burberry brand piece Jos penned on Monday, and then spending many (many) hours browsing through TheArtOfTheTrench website.
We have mentioned many times previously that the trench coat is a timeless and versatile item you need in your wardrobe. We have stated that it can transcend through seasons, years and trends, but have never shown you how to adapt it throughout the year. So, in this two part guide on how to wear the trench, I am going to breakdown how versatile the coat is, how you can wear it in both spring/summer and autumn/winter, and hopefully persuade you once and for all to invest in this now iconic piece.
In part one, we will concentrate on outfit options and combinations for the spring/summer seasons.
Before We Start
I am not here to tell you why you should have the trench coat in your wardrobe in this series, so in case you need it reinforcing for you, have a browse through these articles on site:
- The Ultimate Trench Coat Guide – A complete guide by Ashley Cover which shows you exactly what to look for (size, cut and colour) when purchasing a trench coat, as well as an amazing section on how to modify your purchase to make it a one-off.
- Burberry Clothing: Behind The Brand – A brand history piece by Jos Kelly which has a large section dedicated to the Burberry trench coat, along with the history of the garment.
- What Is Timeless Style – Joseph Aaron tries to define timeless style, whilst giving examples of the men and clothes that embody it.
Current Season Trench Coats
Here is a selection of trench coats on the market right now. There is definitely something for everyone, whether you are looking for cropped, long, military inspired, single breasted or double breasted.
Today we will be taking a look at how you can utilise the trench coat in both the unpredictable weather of spring, and the warmer months of summer. In spring the weather can change at the drop of a hat; one minute you are standing in a warm spring breeze, and the next you are running for shelter from an April shower. The trench is the perfect choice of outerwear for such a situation.
They are generally lightweight, with the construction usually 100% cotton and very breathable – meaning when it is warm it will not make you swelter and does not add bulk to your outfit which can feel uncomfortable when the sun is out. Not only that, but they are also very water resistant, so when the weather does change, you can just do the jacket up, tie the belt and feel safe in the knowledge that you are not going to ruin your favourite shirts or knitwear.
In summer, you are less likely to utilise your trench, but as we have seen here in the UK over the past month, the weather can be just as unpredictable as spring. Again, the lightweight nature of the jacket means that you can leave the light knitwear at home and simply throw on your trench over the top of a tee or polo for something a little different, with clean and chic lines. As you will see from the look book below, they can also be paired with shorts very successfully.
For spring/summer the trench of choice would be a cropped version which finishes around waist length. This would give you the most versatility and flexibility when it comes to pairing with shorts or jeans/chinos.
In terms of colour, you can opt for bold striking colours if they are available, but for me the choice is easy; a light stone or beige trench is perfect for these seasons. This is because they can easily anchor (and even neutralise) the bold colours commonly used in these months, they are timeless shades which coordinate well with any other colours you have in your wardrobe, and they also do not attract heat like a dark trench coat would. My second choice would be navy, as it fits in with the nautical trend you find prevalent each and every year, and again it is a timeless colour which would work well with the earth tones and neutral colour palettes of the spring/summer seasons.
How To Style
Above you can see a variety of very different outfits which would be considered spring/summer looks. First we are going to start with the summer neutral outfits [bottom right and bottom centre]. These both pick up on what I mentioned in my last look book about mixing neutral tones in order to create a great summer outfit. By varying the shade of the neutral from white to beige, to cream and even light brown, you can create outfits that coordinate beautifully but still have enough change in tone in order to make each individual piece stand out. This would be an approach you could take if you invested in a stone, beige, cream or camel coloured trench.
My favourite look of the two is the pairing of beige chinos with a light stone coloured mac and cream piece of knitwear [bottom right]. This is an everyday smart casual look which would be perfect for the spring months. The neat brown belt coordinates perfectly with the neutral tones, and gives separation between the top and bottom half. The introduction of colour on the knitwear and through the shoes ties the top and bottom half together, whilst also adding a focal point. The trench coats’ streamlined and clean nature brings this outfit up a notch and gives it much more refined look.
The second cream look [bottom centre] is much more directional/edgy and probably suited to youth. Personally I would swap out the combat shorts for a smarter tailored pair, and instead of using heavy work boots opt for a suede desert boot; this will keep the look similar but just give the overall aesthetic a lighter spring/summer vibe. Utilising a cropped trench coat in this case would be the preference.
The next two outfits show that you can mix your trench with shorts if it is a warm day. The look which utilises a cream trench with green khaki shorts is my favourite [top right], as it keeps to the same principle as above by mixing neutrals and earthy tones together. Green tone shorts are a great way of standing out in spring/summer, and surprisingly easy to coordinate with. Here the cream trench coat neutralises the effect of the green shorts and instead allows the similar shaded boots become the focal point. By keeping the top half fresh and clean, it means that even on those warmer days you are not going to feel smothered and too hot.
Perhaps the key point to take form both outfits though is that it would be best to leave your trench wide open if pairing with shorts. If you did these up, then you may end up looking like a bit of a ‘flasher’ – something none of us want to look like when walking through your local city! Either purchased a real cropped trench or make sure your shorts finish at just above knee length so there is some definite differential.
Now on to my favourite two looks of the whole look book. Both build on the colour combinations I featured in my guide to bold tailoring, and are stunning in terms of ease of wear and overall style. First we have an everyday casual look which ANY male here could pull off. By using your bold blue cobalt chinos/trousers with a plain scoop neck tee [top left], it creates a simple and easy to wear look which still has a stand out piece (the trousers) to draw attention. However, throw on a beautiful full length cream/camel trench coat and you transform the outfit and the whole focus. It brings the outfit up a notch, and suddenly converts you from laid back casual to smart and put together. The trench coat has such clean lines that it cannot fail to bring that little bit extra to any look you have in your arsenal.
In this case it also brings the focus away from the very bold chinos and neutralises the effect of them (as mentioned in Paul McGregor’s neutralising bold colours article). In this outfit I would forgo the socks and pair with a great suede (brown or cream) pair of brogues, really reinforcing the clash of smart and refined pieces with everyday casuals. This is an amazing look you should all have in your ‘go-to’ outfits.
You can swap out the trousers for red, green or purple, and the best thing is this outfit still works with a simple change of footwear. The white tee and trench coat anchors the whole look, allowing you to experiment.
For those of you who are a little bolder with their outfit choices, I can’t recommend the last outfit enough [top centre]. It is the perfect mix of style, arrogance and individuality. This is for the the guy who dresses well, but knows it. Bold white trousers are perfect for making a statement, and just scream confidence in yourself and your personal style. I love this slim fit pair, and when paired with the great suede shoes (with coordinating white sole no less), the contrast is perfect and suitable for the warmer spring/summer seasons.
The outfit has a nautical influence with the introduction of the beautiful navy double breasted trench coat, and by doing it up fully it creates a slim but powerful silhouette. The addition of a navy turtleneck (presumably in a lightweight cotton for the season) is great as it reinforces the refined and sophisticated nature of the whole look, whilst also being tall enough to show through underneath the jacket.
The tortoiseshell wayfarer glasses again ooze confidence, and are set off perfectly against the navy backdrop. The gloves in a similar contrasting colour show you care about the details, but are probably more suited to autumn instead of spring. This outfit is so simple and doesn’t use any outlandish colours, but it really is a statement look which would definitely garner attention. Fashion at its finest.
On Monday we will be taking a look at how to wear your trench coat in the autumn/winter seasons, as well as pairing it with formalwear for work.