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Celebrating the Burberry trench coat
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A brief history of the trench coat


© Scott Schuman, The Sartorialist (
© Scott Schuman, The Sartorialist (
As the name might suggest the trench coat (or trenchcoat) was originally designed as a lightweight alternative to heavy duty serge greatcoats worn in the trenches of the First World War.

Thomas Burberry submitted designs for the original trench coat in 1901 to the United Kingdom War Office.

Trench coats were then worn by army officers not as part of their mandatory uniform but as an optional extra paid for by the men themselves.

Lower ranks were not permitted to wear the trench (even if they could afford one) and thus the trench became a symbol of class and sophistication.

Trench coats or variations on the theme filtered down to the front line and by 1945, long and shorter styles were worn as wind-breakers and rain macs.

Shoulder straps and D-rings were added to the design for the convenience of the British Army: shoulder straps for displaying rank and D-rings for attaching useful items to the belt.

In more recent history the trench has remained in the public eye thanks to its reputation as respectable business wear.

Perhaps for this reason, the trench has become synonymous with sexiness - often worn with just high heels and underwear in the ultimate good-girl-gone-bad statement.


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