Closet 101 Style

The Trench Coat

I personally believe the trench coat is an item that almost every woman should have in their closet. It’s something you wear throughout the seasons and we’re reminded season after season by magazines that it’s a wardrobe mainstay. I’m a huge fan of trenches and outerwear in general, and wanted to share some tips on trench coat shopping I’ve picked up over the years.

1. It’s better to pay full price and have your #1 first choice perfect trench than a bunch of weird second rate sale finds.  Be very selective and picky over which trench you buy. A trench is meant to be lived in and loved over a long period of time, so make sure it’s a piece that has longevity. There’s a zillion different kinds that just Burberry alone makes every season and it’s better to buy the perfect one for you at full price, than one you don’t like as much, just because it’s on sale. In trenches there can be multiple colors (even in just the shade of khaki used), cuts, lengths, and details. I still don’t have my classic Burberry trench because I’ve been holding out for the perfect one.

2. Try out a bunch of different styles. I never would have picked up this little nylon, balloon sleeved parka if a particularly bossy saleslady at Burberry hadn’t literally shoved it on to me while I was distracted translating for a bunch of Chinese tourists in the New York store. But it’s become one of my favorite pieces and I love it because it isn’t as common of a style (worn here).

3. Figure out exactly what you like. Know what details are important to you, how much you want to pay, and what will be comfortable for you to wear. This includes questions like whether you prefer double breasted or single breasted styles, and whether or not you want a belt. This is really key. The classic trench style is double breasted, with a belt – and I love how it looks. But sometimes I find belts really fussy as I’m constantly taking my coats on and off – and quite often I like to wear my trenches open, and then I have to tie the belt in the back. I prefer single breasted, non belted trenches sometimes for ease of use in my lifestyle – however I know lots of women who feel the same way about the classic belted trench.

4. Don’t be afraid of color! This is advice that I have to take myself because as you can see in the first photo, most of my trenches are very muted colors like black and tan. But a trench is color like red, or yellow, navy or purple can be a great addition to your wardrobe, especially if most of it consists of largely neutrals. I love wearing my red trench and I think it always adds a colorful detail, especially if I’m feeling like the rest of my outfit is boring.

5. Don’t get hung up on the brand, or think you have to spend a lot. I feel that sometimes because we are told so often that “trenches are classics,” we get it in our heads that trenches have to be expensive, and from certain brand names. But honestly I feel that you can find quality trenches these days at any number of price points – from Gap, to J.Crew, to A.P.C. to Burberry and Chanel. Sure there are certain quality differences such as whether the trench is lined, and the materials, the buttons, the stitching, and if you can afford a high end trench I would think it’d be a worthy “investment”. But there are chic trenches available to suit most budgets out there, and for you to love and make your own. I’ve included some of my favorites below – all interpretations of the classic tan double breasted and belted trench. Happy trench shopping!

ASOS trench – $100

J.Crew Icon trench – $298 (25% off right now with code SURPRISE)

APC trench – $575 (50% off now at $288)

Burberry trench – $1,195

Valentino trench – $2,490 (50% off now at $1245)

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  • couturecoco
    November 28, 2011 at 1:39 pm

    GREAT tips! I love your choices, classic with a modern twist – perfect. I'm another trench and coat nut 🙂

  • Adele
    November 28, 2011 at 1:48 pm

    When I think of a trench I instantly think Burberry. Great tips!

  • Cindy
    November 28, 2011 at 1:49 pm

    This reminds me to stock up on my winter wardrobe while the winter sales are on! I only have two trenches at the moment…both of which are black

  • Chocolate, Cookies & Candies
    November 28, 2011 at 1:51 pm

    Great tips, Kat! I'm still holding out for my very first Burberry trench coat. I hate that I'll need to get some alterations on the sleeves. But you're absolutely right about not getting hung up on the price point. I bought a black trench coat from this no name store in Hong Kong for £30. I get asked all the time and always felt really embarrassed that it's a no-brand coat!

  • Chocolate, Cookies & Candies
    November 28, 2011 at 1:51 pm

    Great tips, Kat! I'm still holding out for my very first Burberry trench coat. I hate that I'll need to get some alterations on the sleeves. But you're absolutely right about not getting hung up on the price point. I bought a black trench coat from this no name store in Hong Kong for £30. I get asked all the time and always felt really embarrassed that it's a no-brand coat!

  • Lisa
    November 28, 2011 at 1:53 pm

    Thanks for the great tips that I will often forget when I see sale and my size! I bought a nylon trench online once that was on sale and I've never worn it. I've been waiting and saving for a Burberry but I happened upon one from Gryphon that I love…now if I can get around to shortening the cuffs.

  • Ella Pretty Blog
    November 28, 2011 at 3:01 pm

    Very helpful tips. I love the trenchcoat from point 2 – it looks gorgeous on you and is such an unusual style.

  • skippysays
    November 28, 2011 at 4:12 pm

    I shopped for the perfect trench for 5 years before finally finding one I love. I did end up getting it for full price (well, my MIL bought it for me as a gift actually) which I never do because it was so perfect. For me, the problem was fit. I found many I loved, but none fit quite right until this one. I only have the one, but hopefully I'll add to my collection at some point 🙂

  • Blace
    November 28, 2011 at 4:41 pm

    I like this post. I'm still on the hunt for the perfect trench…but once I find it, I know that I'll have it for possibly the rest of my life.

  • Call me M
    November 28, 2011 at 4:59 pm

    Really great tips! I only have one or two trench coats but I love the classic Burberry one.

  • City Girl Chicago
    November 28, 2011 at 5:27 pm

    I always love reading your fashion advise ~ trench advice no exception! 🙂

  • Tiffany
    November 28, 2011 at 5:39 pm

    great post! I love trench coats. I own quite a few but funny thing is, none are the classic khaki trench. I adore it on other people but for some reason, that color looks terrible on me! So I always go for black or gray. I think I do need a colorful one like you were mentioning, I'm thinking red would be perfect! Love yours!

  • amy b.s.
    November 28, 2011 at 5:48 pm

    i totally agree. plus, i feel like inspector gadget in mine and it's fun!

  • Tiffany
    November 28, 2011 at 7:05 pm

    I love that red trench!! And of course, I love the Valentino one, too. lol I don't own a trench, but I need one!

  • SassyUptownChic
    November 28, 2011 at 7:38 pm

    Great post Katherine! There are so many options now with trenches (long, short, color, pattern, and style) it's easy to get confused. You've brought up some excellent points and you must consider all before purchasing one.

  • Lindsay
    November 28, 2011 at 7:44 pm

    Are you reading my mind? I've literally been on the hunt of a trench coat these past few months. I'm aiming for a black one first, and then possibly a classic Burberry.

  • Amy
    November 28, 2011 at 7:56 pm

    Thanks for sharing these tips! I've been on the lookout for a trench for awhile now but have been holding out till I find the right one 😉

  • alison*elle
    November 28, 2011 at 8:02 pm

    Love your picks, Katherine! I wear my trench all the time in the Spring and Fall… it's such a great piece that goes with everything.

    xo, alison*elle

  • signature mix
    November 28, 2011 at 8:04 pm

    There's nothing better than a classic Trench. Such great advice! And I absolutely love that nylon Burberry.

  • Alena: Oh, It's Just Perfect!
    November 28, 2011 at 10:12 pm

    Great tips!! I would definitely spend $$ on a great trench. Now, I just have to find the right one 🙂

  • Bonnie
    November 28, 2011 at 11:31 pm

    A good trench coat in the winter is a definite must. I would freeze without one!
    Twitter: @GlamKitten88

  • newpetite
    November 29, 2011 at 12:35 am

    great tips! I agree for somethings.. it is better to pay full price.

  • dietingfashions
    November 29, 2011 at 1:02 am

    woohoo! Trenches! I just bought my first trench from with a cheetah print lining. Hopefully it's as good as I hope it is.

  • Petite-size Style
    November 29, 2011 at 1:47 am

    I love trench coats! I agree with all of your tips. If it's well made and fits perfectly, I would pay full price.

  • Chic 'n Cheap Living
    November 29, 2011 at 2:09 am

    I totally agree. I still have an old one from Andrew Marc but am eating to stock up on different ones. My dream is to find a Burberry prosum at the London outlet or a fab Valentino like yours in italy (a weak euro and vat back do make the sting easier!)

  • Monique
    November 29, 2011 at 2:43 am

    I agree I have a vintage orange trench that i adore~ that asos one is awesome

  • Mangotatoes
    November 29, 2011 at 2:51 am

    I'd definitely have to agree, trench coats are a staple and they look amazing, they give any outfit just the right omph!


  • Rod and Alex - aka: "Rolex"
    November 29, 2011 at 4:45 am

    I may have to start searching for that perfect trench coat! 🙂

  • Cindy Whitehead
    November 29, 2011 at 4:50 am

    Great post – sending to a friend who is looking for a great trench right now. Loving your blog!

  • stylish with a budget
    November 29, 2011 at 4:59 am

    that's kind of cute – bossy saleslady…
    it looked really nice on you.

  • Janine aka J-Ezzy @ *La Dolce Vita*
    November 29, 2011 at 5:32 am

    Great post! My favorite trench is my shiny bright yellow Jessica Simpson belted double breasted trench! It sounds pretty bad when I say shiny, it has a satin finish 🙂 not shiny like patent. I was just at Burberry in dc and didn't really fall in love with any other trenches…I did however fall in love with the Carlington blazer…drool.

  • PAPS
    November 29, 2011 at 6:14 am

    Would love to own a trench coat. But I live in a tropical country so not much use for one.:( However, I love the ones you have featured.

  • Deniz
    November 29, 2011 at 9:52 am

    Hi! happy days!;) Loves from Turkey!:)


  • Lisa
    November 29, 2011 at 12:57 pm

    I L-O-V-E your nylon parka trench!! it's definitely unique and more unusual than the average khaki burberry trench!

  • Samantha
    November 29, 2011 at 3:04 pm

    Gosh! Loving all your trenches! My favorite is the Valentino one in the previous post. It's gorgeous!

    I really like piece of advice #1 – I have been applying that to shopping for clothes in general!

  • Kara
    November 29, 2011 at 6:01 pm

    Great and informative post! You make me want to pull out my single breasted, beltless trench which I rarely wear.
    I've been wanting a classic trench for some time, but haven't seriously taken the time and effort to search for the perfect one for me. Perhaps this winter will be the time I finally go shopping in the trenches:-)

  • tiffyama
    November 29, 2011 at 10:47 pm

    Great post! I actually thrifted a trench coat recently and wore it out, only to find that it was quite awkwardly big on the sleeves. -sigh- Guess I'll have to save up and invest in one that will last me! Maybe a red one…I don't own a single piece of red item in my closet to be honest.

    November 30, 2011 at 12:38 am

    Great advice. I own two trenches and I love them equally one was as cheap as chips from ASOS, a dusty purple colour, in the style of Burberry, and the second is more expensive, a classic black shape. I'm also still searching for one a la Breakfast at Tiffanys, but it;s always nice to know you can wait, because this is a style that never goes out of fashion.

  • keepsakes. etc
    November 30, 2011 at 11:43 am

    I also am a trench lover I just can't resist them

  • Prêt à Porter P
    December 3, 2011 at 2:27 am

    I used to wear a trench coat at least once a week, regardless of season, but I got sick of catching crap for it so I stopped. :/ Still it's one of my favorites. Beige looks awful on me, but I have one in black, leopard, denim, and then a multi-colored floral. Like you said, don't be afraid of color!

  • The Blonde @ Stylish3
    December 9, 2011 at 10:40 pm

    Great tips! The two trenches I own are pink and red… not super practical! I've been on the hunt for the perfect black and tan versions.

  • meghan
    December 19, 2011 at 2:22 am

    I have been wanting a Burberry trench for the longest time. I've got a whole bunch of Neimans gift cards that I've been collecting as well as some savings, and soon one of these pretties is going to be mine. But I'm surprised by how much I actually love the JCrew on you posted here. But Burberry I feel like is the classic trench.