The trench coat is an iconic wardrobe staple that you will find yourself wearing for years to come. It’s actually the most stylish form of a raincoat, traditionally made of durable and water-resistant gabardine cotton. It became a popular piece for soldiers to wear during the Boer and World Wars for its functional design. Besides the rain and mud friendly fabric, trench coats offer extra protection around the neck with their wide lapels and hook and eye latch, across the chest with their double breasted silhouette, and storm flap pockets to safely stow belongings. On top of all these practical benefits, trench coats have a comfortable and elegant design that make them one of the most versatile coats of all time. Find out why yours can easily become your go-to jacket for many occasions.
What is a Trench Coat?
Where does the name trench coat come from? The name trench coat originates from the trenches of World War I, where soldiers would wear trench coats to protect themselves from the harsh conditions. As we mentioned, the trench coat is really a raincoat. They are quite lightweight but they are great for layering, which makes them excellent jackets to wear during the fall and spring. If you live somewhere with a mild or warm climate, you can also wear them during the winter (in fact, this might be your main option if it’s still too warm in the fall and spring). And if you live somewhere with a cold climate, you might even have to wear yours throughout the summer! Trench coats were designed to be worn over military uniforms, so the fit is quite roomy. This means that you can wear anything from a light t-shirt to a chunky sweater underneath your trench coat. You have the luxury of adjusting the fit of your trench coat with the belt, so it should never be too tight or too loose. And although the trench coat has water-resistant attributes, it looks great in any kind of weather.
The trench coat can be worn for an array of occasions. It’s sophisticated enough to be one of the few types of outerwear that looks good with formal clothing and suits (and is also long enough to comfortably cover suit jackets). The design is also simple enough to look great with ultra casual clothes like jeans and hoodies. You can wear your trench coat over a tuxedo to a black tie event, with your work or wedding guest suit, to complement your date night outfit, or with your off-duty weekend look. Because there are so many different options, we’ll be sharing our favorite winning combinations below.
Single Breasted vs Double Breasted
Modern trench coats come in both varieties, so which should you choose? If you want to stay true to the original trench coat style, go for a double breasted version. A double breasted version offers more chest protection and warmth as it has the extra fabric to cover you up. A double breasted silhouette may also make your chest look bigger and your waist look smaller. However, on some men it may end up looking too bulky in which case they should stick to single breasted. A single breasted trench coat would also be a better choice if you don’t need the extra fabric protection, if you’re looking for a light spring/fall coat.
When to Wear a Trench Coat?
Formal Event (wedding, gala, etc)
A trench coat is a stylish clothing item to have, but how do men usually wear it? There is a very simple combination: a trench coat and a suit. All you need to do is figure out which color will best complement your suit. The classic camel color looks great with pretty much any color suit and will always result in a timeless look. But if you want to try something a bit different, opt for darker colors. Khaki looks great with dark colored suits (navy, black, charcoal). A black or navy trench with a grey suit creates a darker and more dramatic feel - almost Peaky Blinders-esque. It’s better to stick to traditional, classic colored trench coats when it comes to formal events as this will fit in better with the dress code, as well as giving you a more refined air.
Whether you have a business formal or casual dress code, a trench coat will fit right in with your work clothes. If you have to wear a full suit to work, try a trench coat in a matching color for an ultra stylish monochrome look. Break up the color with your shoes and possibly briefcase. For example, a grey trench coat and suit with brown shoes. If full monochrome isn’t your thing, try a slight variation by choosing similar tones, like a charcoal trench coat with a navy suit or a camel trench coat with a brown suit. If you have a more relaxed dress code and you like to mix and match, try some of the following options:
- A navy trench coat with a light blue shirt, grey slacks, and brown chukkas
- A camel trench coat with navy slacks, a white shirt, a burgundy tie, and oxblood boots
- A khaki trench coat over a simple white shirt, black slacks, and black monk straps
Again, stick to neutral-colored trench coats as they will be easier to match with your work clothes.
Casual (brunch, coffee, etc)
Fashion lovers all over the world love using trench coats as their secret fashion weapon. They have the power to elevate any outfit and give it the perfect high-low balance. Trench coats are especially great if you’re spending your weekend out and about. They’ll seamlessly flow from brunch or coffee in the morning, to running errands in the afternoon, to ending the night at the pub. Find a cool and comfortable outfit as your base, and top it off with your trench coat! Here are our top picks:
- A trench coat, jeans, a t-shirt, and sneakers.
- A tan trench coat, cardigan layered over a t-shirt, chinos, and brown cap toe boots.
- A burgundy trench coat, slightly unbuttoned/untucked shirt, jeans/chinos, and black brogue boots.
- A grey trench coat, sweater or hoodie, black jeans, and sneakers.
With all of these variations you can play around with colors to find what matches best, but you can’t go wrong with a classic colors like black, white, and grey for your under layers. They will be easier to match with your trench coat, especially if you are choosing a brighter colored one. If it’s cold out you can add accessories like beanies and scarves, but make sure you are wearing the scarf underneath your trench coat.
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On a Date
Wearing a trench coat on a date will show you’re truly making an effort to look good. Your date will appreciate it, especially if they’ve just spent hours getting ready themselves! Whether you’re heading to the movies, a cozy restaurant, or an upscale lounge, a trench coat will help elevate your date night look and give you Humphrey Bogart vibes. Here are some cool combinations to try:
- A camel trench coat, light blue shirt, dark wash jeans, and chukka or chelsea boots
- A khaki trench coat, black turtleneck, black jeans, and black chelsea boots
- A navy trench coat, grey sweater layered over a white shirt (tie optional), dark wash jeans, and boots of choice
Of course, you can dress your outfit up or down depending on what you’re doing for the date, so feel free to take inspiration from any of the other previous suggestions. If you’re going somewhere fancy you might want to wear something tailored, or if you’re keeping things relaxed you can make your outfit more casual.
As you can see, a trench coat is an item that you can get a lot of wear out of. It’s an investment piece, but it’s one that will be worth every penny. Add one to your wardrobe this fall, you won’t regret it!
Colored Trench Coats for Men
Navy Trench Coats
Navy blue Trench Coat. Navy is a rich and elegant color that looks amazing during the fall and winter. If you like wearing navy suits, a navy trench coat is the perfect cover up as it will definitely cover the suit jacket leaving with you with a stylish monochrome look. Another formal way to wear a navy trench coat is with a grey suit.
Navy trench coats also work well with more casual styles. They look great with blue jeans and a shirt if it’s warm enough, or a sweater if it’s cooler. You can also swap the jeans for tan or grey chinos in the fall/winter, or white in the spring for a brighter look. Some colors that look great with navy (for shirts and sweaters) are white, hunter green, brown, beige/tan/camel, grey, olive, or lighter shades of blue. And in case you were wondering - yes, you can wear navy with black. Add a something grey for a cool and smart color palette, for example a grey sweater with black pants and accessories (shoes, scarf, gloves).
Grey Trench Coats
Grey is a versatile shade that works well for any season. A grey trench coat is an excellent layering piece for a lighter colored suit, like beige or pale blue in the spring. You can also use a dark grey or charcoal trench coat to pair with dark suits (black, navy) or create a monochromatic effect with a grey suit in a different shade - this works well both ways.
For a more casual feel, use your grey trench coat to dress up your favorite jeans and t-shirt combo for a stylish weekend look in the fall or spring. If you prefer chinos, a grey trench coat will work with just about any color: beige, navy, black, khaki. As for shirts and sweaters? White, black, burgundy, olive, blue, mustard, or beige. Grey also works as a great neutral backdrop for checks, so you can always wear checked chinos or trousers are a great bet if you like prints. You can also add bright pops of color like red or cobalt blue via accessories (scarves, ties) if the rest of your look is fairly neutral.
Camel Trench Coats
Camel or beige is the most classic style of trench coat. This light neutral color works perfectly for fall or spring. It looks great with any color of suit, but especially with light colored or check suits. In the fall, camel looks amazing with traditional earthy colors as it falls in the same color family. You can combine your camel trench coat with colors like khaki, rust, mustard, and brown - this works for shirts, sweaters, or chinos. For example, a mustard or rust sweater with dark khaki chinos and a camel trench coat. Alternately you can treat camel as a regular neutral during other times of the year and wear it with white, black, grey, or navy. Wear your camel trench coat over a crisp white shirt and navy, black, or grey chinos for a timeless outfit.
Black Trench Coats
Black is a classic that goes well with everything. You can wear your black trench coat outfit over any color of suit, solid or printed, or with more casual types of outfits. Stick to all black everything for the dark and mysterious look. For easy neutrals wear a white/beige shirt or sweater with black bottoms, or if you prefer something brighter choose a more colorful piece instead. For a great transitional look, layer your black trench coat over a light-colored outfit (white or beige). Create contrast with checked or colored trousers. Depending on how casual or formal you want to look, you can wear a t-shirt, shirt, or sweater on top.
How Should a Trench Coat Fit?
A trench coat is meant to be a layering piece, so it shouldn’t be too tight. You want to have enough room to comfortably layer a thick sweater or a lighter jacket (such as a suit jacket) underneath. That being said, you don’t want it to look too loose or big either. If it’s starting to look baggy, it’s probably too big. The sleeves should reach just above your thumb so that any long sleeves underneath are well hidden. The length doesn’t really matter as there is no standard length for a trench coat. Just bear in mind that an above-the-knee coat will elongate your legs, while longer ones might make your legs look shorter. Remember to use the belt on your trench coat, as it will taper in your waist while making your shoulders and chest look broader. If it’s a warm day and you want to wear your trench coat open, neatly knot your belt in the back rather than leaving empty beltholes for a more polished look.