When Renee Zellwegger wore a red trench coat for a dress on the red carpet in 2011 America’s fashion critiques were at a loss: praise or blast her. A reaction that must have resembled society after WWII, because it must have been more than their practicality that had all the post war ladies steal these smart and effortlessly chic looking coats from their husbands.
The trench coat designed somewhere between 1850 and 1901 by Burberry and Aquascutum was to become the world’s most sought after, trendy, classic piece. Since then designers have tried to reinvent it, nip it and tuck it on every runway show for the past 60 years. Yet its inventors still dominate the trench coat style a century later. To our relief, with insignificant exceptions sometimes irritating (true!), the world still goes for the classic chic look. Double breasted, tan, shoulder strapped and belted trench coat. We have to give all the generations though, credit for dressing up or down a trench coat. It’s a delight to see a lady in a Burberry classic trench coat go to a fancy luxurious party with the same poise and attitude as a girl who puts her own spin on one with trainers or flats, on her Sunday stroll for coffee with friends. Cheap or expensive, brand or not – a well sewed simple trench coat is a winning ticket.
For a hundred years we’ve been forgetting and discovering it with the help of film stars who like us picked it and loved it for the same reasons. After Casablanca in 1945 every man was Humphrey Bogart and later in the 60’s we were all Audrey Hepburns. We almost lost it there for a bit in the 80’s and 90’s in heavy metal Goth fashion copying Brandon Lee and Matrix personas (thank God 20 years fly so fast!) but kudos to Rosie Huntington-Whitely, Gossip Girl and Kate Middleton for bringing it back. After so many decades it seems we’ve learned our lesson as to what a simple and classic cut does for us. Elongates, styles, gives edge and class. But don’t hold your breath ladies, in fashion it comes and goes.