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Styling Leather Trench Coat - The Ultimate Guide

April 13, 2019

Styling Leather Trench Coat - The Ultimate Guide

by Sarah Makhluf

Sarah is a freelance content writer from Boston, MA. She loves traveling, fashion, and the beach.


How has the trench coat stood the test of time? Why have famous actors and actresses been sporting the classic coats for years, and how has a jacket become part of pop culture? The practicality of it for one, the simple way it can dress up an outfit, and its humble beginnings have earned the trench coat a place in fashion history. With new styles being added to spring and summer collections every year, we have seen the trench evolve from just being a raincoat to so much more. The trench coat has been around for generations, and the history of how the came about may surprise you.

 

Keep reading to find out: 

  • History of the trench coat
  • What you need to know about the leather trench coat
  • Where to buy your leather trench coat
  • How to style
  • Best trench coats in movie history

Who wore the first trench coats?

Did you know they were invented during the First World War? French and British soldiers wore them as an alternative to bulky greatcoats made from serge, which is a type of twill fabric. In 1879, the luxury fashion house, Burberry, invented gabardine fabric, which was much lighter and more comfortable. Burberry designed the first Army officer’s raincoat in 1901. The soldiers used the floppy collars to help block out harsh winds and rain while they were in the “trenches” during the war. During the war, the jackets were modified to include shoulder straps and D-rings to attach epaulets and equipment.

During the Second World War, officers from the United Kingdom continued to wear the coats in violent weather. Soon after, other nations followed suit and developed their own style of trench jackets. The coats are still in fashion, decades after the war, their army beginnings gave the trench coat a certain level of respect and today, is often associated with someone who means business.

How to start looking for your first leather trench coat:

While the classic trench has a history of its own, the leather trench has its place in fashion history as well, have you thought about going with a leather one for yourself?

When you think of a leather trench coat, it might bring you back to an earlier time, and any Millennials out there will know what I’m about to refer to. I’m talking start of the new millennium Backstreet Boys, NSYNC, and boy bands alike were seen sporting the leather trench. While it took a break in fashion, I am happy to report it’s back and better than ever. Men’s leather trench coats have gotten a modern makeover within the last decade, and the new styles are not to be missed.

Where to begin on the hunt for the perfect leather trench? Are you making the transition from your classic leather jacket? The main difference with styles of leather trench coats is the length. If you are going for a bolder look, go with one that’s cut all the way down to your knee and for more laid back style try one that hits at your middle thigh. Wear your leather trench just like you would your leather jacket, use it to dress up any outfit, and use it to give you an extra layer of warmth. Do keep in mind they are more of a spring/summer jacket, as they are much lighter than your classic leather jacket.

Where to begin looking for a leather trench coat

What are the typical features in a trench coat:

  • Double-Brest - Traditional trench coats are double-breasted, which pays homage to the coats military history.
  • Collar - Usually trench coats have a large collar which can be turned up in harsh weather to help protect your face.
  • Belt - Most classic styles feature a belt.
  • Material - While classic styles are made from water-resistant material, a lot of trench coats today are also made from leather or Gore-Tex.
  • Length - The length varies, traditionally the jackets fell to the thigh, but today variations going all the way down to the floor, or cut up to the waist are easy to find.
  • Sleeve Loops - Some trench coats feature tighter sleeves around the wrist, this is to help prevent rain and wind from coming in.

What to consider when shopping for a leather trench coat?

So, have you decided on a leather trench yet? Let’s talk about the quality of leather you should be going for. Most likely if you are shopping from a conventional retail store, the coat will be made from cowhide. Cowhide is durable and known for its softness, making it an excellent choice for a trench. Trench coats are made to shield out bad weather, so when looking for a leather one make sure you get a high-quality leather so your new coat will last you for years to come. You want your new coat to have a bit of stretch and give to it, after all, it’s meant to be a bit looser fitting than your other leather jackets.

How should a trench coat fit?

The three key points to focus on when buying a trench are the shoulders, chest, and sleeves. Follow this simple guide below to ensure the best fit for your new trench coat.

Shoulders:Trench coats are not meant to be skin tight. The shoulders of your coat should allow about .5” to 1” of room. This enough room for you to wear a man's suit jacket underneath, a sweater, or any other layering piece you want to wear.

Chest:The chest of the trench coat should allow enough space for you to comfortably wear another layer underneath without it feeling too tight.

 Sleeves: The sleeves of the trench coat should extend 2″ to 3″ past your suit jacket or sweater cuff. Trench coat sleeves should fall into the bottom fold of your palm, making them a bit longer than your classic jackets.

Retail vs. custom:

Now, a trench coat is without a doubt a statement piece, and you want it to fit like a glove and look perfect right? If you are having a hard time shopping in the sores, the best way to achieve your leather jacket goals is to have one custom made. Going custom gives you total creative freedom, allowing you to put in your exact measurements and chose your type of leather, lining, hardware, and color. If you have had a hard time finding “the one” in stores, I can’t recommend enough going the custom made route.

Where to buy a leather trench coat

Where to buy a leather trench coat:

Check out my list of the top stores to buy leather trench coats from. Consider the price and quality when purchasing any type of leather. As a guideline, I would say any leather trench coat under $300 may not be the best quality. This is something that should be an investment and last a lifetime.

 

Leather Baba - Their jackets are made to make a statement; they are cut to fall all the way to the knee. With seven colors to choose from and a huge range of sizes, this could be your best bet for a full-length leather trench.

Tom Ford- While the price is not for the faint of heart, I wanted to add one splurge item on the list. The beautifully crafted trench coats from Tom Ford scream luxury and are made from some of the finest leather money can buy.

Leather Addicts - Let’s take a step back into a more comfortable price range. The trench coats from Leather Addicts are quite a bit cheaper but pack a big punch style-wise. The eclectic designs they offer may not be for everyone, but if you are looking for a truly one of a kind piece, I’d take a look at their site.

Wilsons Leather - I’m sure you have heard of Wilsons if you are in the market for a leather jacket. I wanted to add them to the list because they offer a great selection of leather trench coats for men and women. Another great thing about them is that they usually have a sale or promotion going on, so if you are considering a jacket from them, I would keep an eye out for a coupon.

Where to buy your custom leather trench coat:

Independence brothers -The guys at Independence brothers know leather, it’s their specialty, and they have perfected the art of custom leather jackets. All of their leather trench coats are made to measure, at no extra charge. They offer six colors ranging from the classics to bolder options. Plus, a rep from the company is almost always on hand to help you along the way.

How to style the leather trench:

Below is your how-to guide on how to choose the right color, and how to wear your new leather trench.

The color is probably on top of your list, with so many shades of leather to choose from, how do you narrow it down? I like to divide it up into two categories — classic vs. bold.

 

Classic - These are your blacks, browns, tans, and creams. Safe colors if you will. For most, the reasoning for choosing a neutral color is because it goes with everything and will surely be one of your most used items of clothing.

Bold - Here is where we can have some fun with color. Today, it’s easy to find beautiful, high- quality leather trench coats in a variety of bright, intense colors. I recommend going with a dark red or burgundy, or a dark blue. While wearing a colored leather trench coat may seem intimidating, see it as an easy way to spice up any outfit.

When should you wear a trench coat?

Not sure if they go with every occasion, how about which season? The rule of thumb with trench coats is that they are usually seen as a spring and summer jackets. While they may not give you the warmth you need in the winter, they are sure to spice up any look when you don’t need to bundle up. Pair your leather trench with jeans, slacks, or dress pants to give your outfit a boost. One of my favorite things about trench coats is their versatility. You can wear it on a date, to work, out with friends, they are suitable for virtually any occasion, depending on the weather and season of course.

How to style a leather trench coat

Top 5 trench coat moments on film:

These five trench coats portrayed in some of Hollywood’s biggest hits are just as famous as the men who wore them! It’s amazing how a piece of clothing can make such a mark on pop culture, keep reading to find out which trench coat sold for $15,000!

 

  • Peter Sellers in The Pink Panther Returns

1974: English comedian and actor Peter Sellers sported a signature trench coat while he played Inspector Clouseau in ‘The Pink Panther Returns’

  • Brad Pitt in Ocean’s Twelve

2004: Brad Pitt wore an iconic white trench coat throughout the ‘Ocean’s Twelve’ film while portraying Rusty Ryan.

  • Ryan Gosling in Blade Runner 2049

2017: Ryan Gosling as Officer K in the sequel to ‘Blade Runner’ science fiction film ‘Blade Runner 2049’ wore a shearling trench coat which had people on the hunt for a replica.

  • Harrison Ford in Blade Runner

1982: Rick Deckard played by Harrison Ford wore a trench which became almost as famous as the movie in the first ‘Blade Runner.’ It sold for a whopping $15,000 at an auction.

  • Eric Draven in The Crow

1994: Eric Draven played the comic book character-turned-movie hero who wore a signature black leather trench coat, which has been re-imagined by many Halloween partygoers throughout the years.


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I hope you enjoyed this read, I hope you learned something, and most importantly I hope this guide helped you on your shopping journey. The history of fashion is fascinating to me, how did an army uniform become one of the most popular pieces of clothing for both men and women and never seem to go out of fashion? I guess the age-old saying is true, if something isn’t broken, then don’t fix it, and the trench didn’t need any fixing. If you enjoyed this article, please let us know by leaving a comment below and sharing with friends and family. We hope to see you back here soon!


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