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Trench coats have remained one of the most functional garment for almost 100 years. Possibly there is no other garment romanticised as much as the trench coat around most of the world. This outerwear has surpassed almost a century without much changes in its style. You can see that a trench coat from a century old picture and the one you see now selling in shops looks almost similar in style. Even with all this popularity and heritage only some people adopt the style in recent times. With the classic fashion styles making a comeback this may the perfect time to know a few things about this timeless trend that has withstood the tests of time.

Trench coats have an interesting history as many of the classic garments do. The garment was first designed as a military outfit by Thomas Burberry for the British officers in Boer war. He was a 21 year old draper and founded his own menswear business by 1856. He made the coats from a innovative and durable wool fabric called gabardine which he invented drawing inspiration from observing linen coated waterproof smocks worn by the shepherds in his hometown, Hampshire. It was made by a twill made by coating individual strands of cotton and wool fibres rather than the whole fabric. It was known to be waterproof and had good ventilation properties.

This was a ground breaking discovery at that time because men's outerwear at that time involved thick, heavy , woollen wears like greatcoats. While they were great at protecting wearers from rain and wind they were very heavy and bulky to wear and hence became smelly when hot. Thus the fabric that was breathable and light enough but rugged and weatherproof at the same time was greatly received.

Still the inventor of the trench coat we have now is a disputed topic since two sportswear companies Aquascutum and Burberry still make the claim and the subject probably will never be settled. This is because of the fact that Aquascutum was designing water repellent clothing from as early as 1853 while Burberry introduced gabardine only by 1879. However this laid the foundation to the trench coats that saw the rise among military officials and civilians.

The coat was first made for military but was not required part of the uniforms and were purchsed privately. Though at that time they were only allowed to wore by the officers they later were later adopted by civilians too inspired by the military wardrobes.

With the onset of World War I, Burberry redesigned the coat including D rings and shoulder straps and sold about over half a million of them to the British War Board. They were ordered for the military officers and later became popular among the soldiers at the warfront. The former version of the military dress was under performing and the need for a better clothing became a need. Trench coats became the coveted better version and they kept the soldiers warm, comfortable,light and better ventilated. The darker color also helped in camouflaging the soldiers. Soon they became a fashion among the soldiers because of their versatility. They were also the best since they were functional along with style. The coats had rings to hook things, capes that drain water and removable inner linings that can be doubled as pillows or beddings.Trench coat earned its name from its frequent use of it by the men fighting in the war's dangerous trenches.

Trench coats were first only worn by high ranking military officials. After the war there came a need to promote the hard worked infantrymen who outperformed in the war arose. Thus with the incorporation of trench coats by these men often termed as temporary gentlemen, it became a status symbol.

With the war ongoing trench coats became popular among civilians. This was because of the fact that they were functional and comfortable than any other outerwear that were available in the market at that time. They also has an air of sophistication to it and were the trend of the time thus looked good no matter what was worn underneath.

After the war Hollywood adopted the fashion of trench coat to its silver screen. The iconic role played by Humphrey Bogart in Casablanca only boosted the already booming trend.

It was only during the World War II, world noticed the trend that was whirling among British officials. Russia and United Stated adopted the style from Britain by dressing their men in trench coats. They were modified according to the need of the moment and the war battles. For example during Napoleonic warfare was adopted the fights were conducted in large fields where the enemies faced off and fired at each other until one of them fell. This needed the uniforms to be brightly colored to make the troops easy to identify by their commanders but this also made it easier for the enemies. Later military tactics changed and lessons learnt from Indian warfare brought new changes. Khaki became a prominent color due to its ability to blend in with dust.

Experiments were done by dyeing the uniforms to blend in with the landscape the war was being fought in.Even today this original military wear is worn by many countries militaries as light weight protection along with uniforms.

There are a lot of fabrics from which the trench coats are made from with wool gabardine being the original. They were used because of its dense weave that repelled water. They were lightweight fabric that were comfortable enough but was surprisingly very strong. When they were first made they were pretty costly and was only purchased by the British officers who were at considerable positions and didn't mind investing more on quality garments. Wool gabardine is still considered the best fabric for trench coats and only used for custom coats on request or by famous brands. This is because of their high cost making it impractical to produce on a mass scale. If you would like to try this style but do not wish to drain your pickets at the same time then vintage wool gabardines are available at reasonable prices.

Today trench coats are made from densely woven cotton with popin and twill leaves but earlier versions of the trench coat were made from heavy khaki drill. Cotton when compared to wool does not excel in heat retaining properties but is more durable and can become water resistant if they are properly treated. Cotton is the most preferable choice in trench coats since they are less expensive than wool and are also available in large quantities. They are also available in blends in which the manufacturers mix man made fibres which gives better weather resistant characteristics and also bring down the cost to a considerable level.

Trench coats adopted to changing fashion as did all the garments though stopping at minute details. Such one modern variation is the leather trench coat. Though not accepted as the classic wear they are heavier and warmer than the their wool and cotton counterparts. They are most closely related to overcoats in terms of functionality than style. Leather's advantage to repel dirt and water and its easy maintenance made it a favourite among the hard working city men. Unfortunately the adaptation of black leather trench coat in Hollywood movies as the default outfit of organised crime's henchmen has made its use dwindle among the usual civilians.

Next comes the color of the trench coats. The traditional color of the trench coats is khaki although there are a lot of variations in the spectrum of the color. You can see coats labelled as khaki that is actually varying from ivory to tan. The trend of dark colored trench coats emerged around the time of World War II. It was because of the fact that they were easy to clean and offered certain level of camouflage to the soldiers in the field.

Nowadays black, blue and other patterned styles of trench coats make the majority of the available fashion. Most would argue that darker colors are less stylish but the traditional darker colors are practical and also can easily compliment the features of darker men.

Though been in the industry for more than 100 years the fundamental style of the trench coats have remained unchanged. There are some timeless styles which you may need to consider while selecting a trench coat.

The classic version of the trench coat is double breasted with six to ten buttons that usually depends on the length of the coat. Though single breasted styles are also available it is always better to own a double breasted one since they look more sophisticated. Double breasted style suits almost all body types but for men with petite stature single breasted styles are the best fit since the excess fabric in the double breasted style makes them look buried into the outfit.

The style of the trench coats even prevalent today can be traced back to the wartimes. The details in the trench coats were specially designed for the soldiers to have it comfortable at the fields. The style have not changed much and have carried down along time.

Trench coats usually have a single vent and this was originally because the soldier needed some room to run while moving across the battlefield simultaneously providing protection against the weather.

If you are going for a more relaxed style it is better to go with Raglan sleeves than the normal ones. It is a sleeve that extends in one piece fully to the collar and a diagonal seem from underarm to collarbone. This is named after Lord Raglan who wore this style after he lost his arm in the Battle of Waterloo. It makes the overcoat comfortable to wear even when worn with multiple layers of clothing.

Storm flap or Gun flap is a protective flap that is provided to ensure the water does not slip into the jacket when it runs down the shoulders. It also serves as a cap when it rains thus keeping the wearer dry. This was introduced after the officers in World War I complained that water seeped into the coats as the early design opened up the breast fold when raising the arm. This is provided in right side for men and on the left side for women because the jacket buttons up in opposite sides for different genders.

Trench coats comes with detachable D ring belts which allows the wearer to adjust the coat according to their torso. They were first designed to hold the firearms, sword and other accessories. This style is preferred by younger generation who have a good form and would like it to show.

Cuff straps mostly serves to tighten the fit and keeps the rain out. They are said to have designed to hold accessories like maps and even hand grenades.

When it comes to the fit of the trench coat it should be noted that it should be large enough to be comfortably worn on top of a suit or a sweater. When you try it on it is ideal if the shoulders extend out past the natural shoulder size by one or half an inch. For chest it is better to have a fit such that your fist can easily fit even when allowing full arm movement. The trench coats' sleeve should be 2 to 4 inches longer than the jacket's sleeve.

The length of the trench coat is usually to 37 to 45 inches with the earlier versions being longer and ending only a few feet above the ground. Now there is no fixed length and it depends mainly on the height of the wearer.

Thus this timeless piece of garment is an ideal pick if you are thinking on diversifying your wardrobe. Trench coats may be the best investment you make since they already have endured a century and is only expected to go on.