FRESH COAT

For the first in a new series of style features which will explore fashion classics and how to wear them, we’re taking a closer look at the trench coat.

The trench coat was made famous by officers who wore them during the First World War, but it was actually invented nearly a century earlier. Waterproof coats made in the 1820s by Scottish inventor Charles Macintosh and Thomas Hancock, the Englishman who founded the British rubber industry, were the first incarnation of what is now a wardrobe staple.

A few decades later, Aquascutum and Burberry created innovative, weatherproof wool and cotton versions. Burberry’s invention was breathable and cutting-edge, and was adopted by explorers and adventurers.

The style was popular with British officers during the First World War as well as foreign soldiers and civilians. After the Second World War the trench coat became a Hollywood favourite, appearing on the backs of gangsters, spies and detectives alike. Humphrey Bogart made it his own in Casablanca, while Audrey Hepburn dazzled in a simple trench in Breakfast at Tiffany’s.

The trench coat remains a perennial favourite today. Keep it classic and chic by dressing it down with distressed jeans and a simple sweater. It looks great with a bold ankle boot, while accessories should be low-key; timeless sunglasses, a slouchy bag and a small flash of gold jewellery are all you need.