A trench coat is a kind of coat that is made of waterproof heavy-duty materials, such as cotton gabardine drill, poplin, or leather. Most of the time, it includes a removable insulated lining, raglan sleeves, and the classic versions that have different lengths. At the present time, trench coats are used during windy or rainy seasons. There are also many different trench coat styles and materials out there today. They are also worn by those who want to add some style to their attire. But did you know that it was originally made for army officers?
The trench coat was invented during the First World War before it became the iconic garment that is recognized today. If you want to learn more about it, read on as were are going to tell you more about the interesting history of the trench coat.
The Trench Coat During World War I
The trench coat was made as a substitute to the heavy serge greatcoats that were worn by British and French soldiers in World War I. Its invention was claimed by two British luxury clothing manufacturers, Aquascutum and Burberry, with the claim of Aquascutum dating back to the 1850s. In 1879, Thomas Burberry created gabardine fabric then submitted a design for an army officer’s raincoat in 1901 to the United Kingdom War Office.
After that, the trench coat became an optional item of dress in the British Army. It was then obtained by private purchase by officers and Warrant Officers Class I who were under no requirement to own them. There were no other ranks that were allowed to wear them. There was another optional item which was the British Warm. It was a wool coat similar to the greatcoat but much shorter in length. This was also worn by Warrant Officers Class I and British officers as an optional piece.
The designs of trench coats during World War I was modified to include shoulder straps and D-rings. The shoulder straps are used to attach epaulets or other rank insignia. The D-ring, on the other hand, was used originally for attaching map cases, swords, and other gear to the belt. There was also a popular myth that says it was used to attach hand grenades.
The later design was named “trench coat” by the soldiers in the front line. A lot of trench coats had large pockets for maps, and it also has flaps and vents that are placed cleverly to deal with the odor associated with earlier rubber coats. There was also a range of waterproof coats was made and sold during wartime. These incorporated War Office requirements with traditional features of casualwear. What became recognized as the trench coat combined the features that a military waterproof cape and the regulation greatcoat have. Many veterans going back to civilian life kept the coats, and they, later on, became fashionable for both men and women.
The Trench Coat During World War II
During World War II, officers from the United Kingdom continued to use trench coats on the battlefield in inclement weather. There were also other nations that made trench coat style jackets, most particularly the Soviet Union, the United States, and other armies of continental Europe, including France, Germany, Belgium, the Netherlands, Poland, and Greece. But as the war progressed, shorter field jackets became more widespread. They are much shorter and more practical compared to the trench coat, and they allowed the wearer to move more freely.
A usual trench coat is a 10-buttoned, double-breasted long coat made with beige, khaki, black, or tan fabric. They usually have raglan sleeves, cuff straps, belts, and shoulder straps. It is typically worn as a windbreaker pr as a rain jacket. Based on period advertisements, the trench coat was sized to wear over the British Warm, to provide water protection when the temperature was cold enough to need the heavier coat. This explains the generous sizing of trench coats. But makers in recent years have resized them downwards to adapt more closely to overcoat sizing, as the two coats, overcoat, and trench, would hardly if at all, be worn together at the present time.
The Trench Coat After the War
Trench coats remained fashionable clothing items in the decades that followed the Second World War. Their original role as part of the uniform of an army officer gave it businesslike respectability. However, a lot of people prefer to tie the belt in front than using the buckle for sporting a more casual look compared to the strict military dress.
In the 1960s, essential intellectuals wore trench coats over black turtleneck sweaters. There were also some Mods who wore them as fashionable overcoats, using them as alternatives to the fishtail parka or Crombie. It was also worn in some of the most iconic scenes in movie history, including Audrey Hepburn in Breakfast at Tiffany’s and Marlene Dietrich in A Foreign Affair.
At the present time, the trench coat has been revisited by many designers, and it is still an enduring signature for its creator, Burberry. It is now available in different styles, colors, lengths, and other details. Though it might have lost its functional military connotation, it still holds that definitive caché. We hope this helped you learn more about the history of the trench coat.