Photos: Dvora @fashionistable

And here I am unintentionally blending in with my surroundings…. During the First World War that was actually one of the reasons the British military wore the Burberry trench; the colour of the top coat acted as camouflage and helped avoid attracting the enemy’s attention. Originally developed in the 19th century, it was during the First World War that the Burberry trench began to see more action when officers’ heavy great coats were replaced by this lighter, weatherproof gabardine outerwear. With my Gentlewoman-ly tendencies, I’d say it’s the military detailing – belts, buckles, storm flaps and epaulettes – rather than the subsequent Hollywood associations that have entrenched (sorry!) the coat’s appeal with me. Though I have to admit when I first tried mine on there was a moment of unexpected glamour in the changing room. A feeling that this great pull-it-together piece could be thrown on over anything (and it often is) and I’d remain forever chic, warm and dry. It’s a few years old now but this timeless trench is a wardrobe trooper, brilliant at keeping the temperate climate at bay.

If you’re looking for a trench with a bit more colour (for a lot less dollar), Hobbs Saskia style comes in four different shades, M&S has gone for gingham and a rather lovely khaki metallic number and Everlane’s cotton twill trench is available in navy.

The trench is one of the top 10 Outstanding Coats in Know Your Style, and in the spirit of my latest book I’ve been practising new combinations of old things. The Acne Pistol boots are a bit knackered but they’ll do for a little while longer, the APC cords are absolutely ancient and to whoop things up and add a whiff of Casual Glamour, I pulled out this five-year-old sequinned sweatshirt from Jaeger.

For even more glamour, here are some of the trench coats greatest moments in film.


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31 thoughts on “The timeless trench coat

  1. I do love a trench coat and have two favourites lurking in my Narniaesque wardrobe. One NW2 Hobbs coat in navy and a neutral one from Whistles via eBay. Both oldish but give a glam and pulled together look to most outfits. I love your Hobbs Saskia version, Alyson, and will investigate further.

    1. It had the same effect on me, what a noble heritage!. It has been one of my ‘Purse Is On Fire’ fantasies since about 1986, but I do like the metallic khaki M and S one a lot. It looks like a smarter version of a silky parka.
      Lovely hair too – more inspiration for me to step away from the hair dye shelves in Boots.

  2. yes love the trench, pricy, so happy Alyson, you sent some others. I like a longer version too. MaxMara may have one, I lost a
    gorgeous cashmere MaxMara on a plane one time and that was “painful”….need a trench. Your VANS did you buy the platforms? I am in need of new sneakers, my converse fell apart from so much wear! Greetings from Florida Alyson, a loyal follower here! xo

  3. Always loved a classic trench coat. Yours is great. I’ve been looking for a new spring coat for a few years. It has to be just right. Classic tan in colour. And not too short or too long. Ha. Now you know why I haven’t found it yet.

  4. For years, I wanted a single-breasted Jackie O trench and couldn’t find one. I ended up splurging on a Mackintosh, which I love. It’s not as versatile as a trench, so I just pray for rain.

    CONGRATULATIONS ON THE BOOK………going WORLDWIDE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  6. For me, your worn-in boots make the whole outfit! After seeing the pictures, but before reading the text, I thought, “The boots are an
    absolutely brilliant touch.” Really like the Everlane navy trench, but already have a light grey trench that’s only a couple of years old. In Northern California we don’t have a very long season for wearing them, either. So I probably can’t justify another one!

  7. My Burberry trench is one of my prized possessions. It has the superpower of making anything I have on look chic and society ready.
    I will have it forever!
    PS- I enjoy your posts

  8. Love them! I have a black one, khaki one and a dark navy one. They are such staples in my wardrobe. The Army green one look super. The black one has been all over Europe and used as a blanket at times when those awful travel blankets on planes aren’t enough to keep out the chill. It has been indestructible for 13 years through lots of wear and tear and still looks good; it’s an Espirit brand.

  9. I have an old navy Burberry of my mothers, it about 30 years old and still in great nick, but it needs the buttons and buckles replaced. Any ideas of where I can buy them.

  10. Still shivering here and back in duvet coats recently and layers of cashmere. But Spring is ahead and light coloured trench coats perfect for warmer weather. I have several beige ones from Max Mara outlet at Bicester village. Plus a more fashiony yellow gold one from same shop. Have had all of these for years plus a dark brown Armani one from York outlet. All good general purpose coats which can be worn with neutrals or brightened with colourful handbags and scarves. Making do with those I have for the time being. As ever Alyson you look good as does your hair. Will encourage me to persist growing mine out.

  11. I found an 80s Burberry trench in a thrift store for $10. I almost passed it by assuming it would be a knock-off. So glad I didn’t, what a score!

  12. Adding to Tara’s point, there are many Burberry vintage trench coats available on line from sites such as Etsy, often in mint condition and very reasonably priced and spanning the decades from the ’60’s up. Buying secondhand can be more special than buying new because you are buying an item with a history.

    1. Vestiaire Collective have some too, such a good way of getting design classics. Still quite expensive, but definitely save-uppable.

  13. I have a black Burberry trench I bought in a charity shop after stalking it for a few weeks. It’s gorgeous, makes me feel cool and glam at the same time. I would love one this colour though.

  14. Ah memories! After leaving university I spent six months as a shop assistant in what was then the Burberry flagship store on Haymarket. Yes the coats were amazing but the shop floor dress code was not – Burberry kilt ending unflatteringly just at the knee, white “blouse” (polyester) and camel v neck. My job was to cater for tourists who wanted top to toe Burberry check golfing outfits – plus fours, bomber jacket, flat cap, scarf, the lot.
    Don’t have a Burberry trench myself, but do have a single breasted raglan sleeve Aquascutum bought in a closing down sale decades ago – dithered for ages between classic camel and bright red; in hindsight classic was definitely the right choice – have worn it and worn it and worn it. Works with everything.

  15. Alyson, I have an identical Burberry trench as yours — mid-length Sandringham. Doesn’t get any more classic than that.
    We are cool. 🙂

  16. I got a metallic Aquascutum trench in a sale for £65 about ten years ago and I wear it constantly. It’s very similar to the Burberry trench – storm flaps, buckles, belts etc and masses of pockets. I wear it with a leather wide-brimmed hat in the rain (lots of that in mid-Wales0 and always feel so pulled together I almost like the rain.

  17. I like your idea of adding a “whiff of casual glamour”. I shall pull out a couple of my “sparklers”. They need to be used more often.
    Thanks for the idea.

  18. I love trenches and would love a Burberry – completely out of my price range though!
    I live in New Zealand and it is very rare to see them worn here for some reason – they would be perfect for out changeable weather and winters are usually milder than in UK.
    Looking forward to your next book.
    Oh and for those unable to source cos and everlane then there is a service run by New Zealand Post where they give an overseas address for you to ship to – warehouses in UK, US and Australia and when it arrives there you get an e mail and it is sent to your home address in your country for pretty reasonable price – I am sure other post offices do this too

  19. I bought a Burberry trench in a charity shop for €10. Never been worn, made in England and even has the detachable wool liner. Always wanted one when younger, as I used to look into the shop window of Burberrys old HQ, in the West End, while waiting for my bus home from work.

  20. I even own a trench vest, which I absolutely love and has gotten a lot of use over the past 5 years. Now, I’m pretty pleased to have added a trench dress to my closet. The trench dress combines everything I love about a trench coat (think timeless, pulled-together #ladyboss vibes) and dresses, which are a one-and-done piece.

  21. There’s such synchronicity to reading this, as I have just succeeded in obtaining a trench coat for the first time. At 6’1″ and a size 22, it’s been predictably difficult. (Please, could you remember the less-than-petite in your posts?) Long Tall Sally were really my only option, and their Classic Trench hit the spot. (For other tall ladies reading this, it’s still available in sizes 10-22, here:

    I agree completely about that ‘moment of unexpected glamour’; wearing the coat is so satisfying: one of my style goals, achieved at last.

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