The Trench Coat

Style is about looking effortlessly right. Give even a hint that you’ve tried and you’ve blown it. Forget the fact that the casual glamour that makes other women groan is the result of a lot of painstaking hard work. The look you are presenting to the world is meant to be as spontaneous as slipping into a bathrobe when you step out of the shower.
The look we’re talking about has little to do with fashion with a capital F. It’s more about the sexual assurance that made Chanel fall in love with the Duke of Westminster’s tweed sports coat. It is about women wearing men’s clothes and not only maintaining their femininity, but enhancing it.
Step up, the trench coat. The look began, unsexily enough, on the grouse moors after the first world war, when women following the guns through mud and drizzle realised they could learn a thing or two from their Burberry-clad men. Surprisingly – believe me, nothing is less sexy than a damp grouse moor – Hollywood took up the look and used it as shorthand for the tough, independent woman who could take care of herself as well as any of the Hons who began the trend in the first place.
The good news is that designers still like this look now, in the 21
st century, and are creating casually belted macs to turn you, in spirit at least, into a movie goddess such as Lauren Bacall, Marlene Dietrich or Catherine Deneuve – all of whom looked great in them, on and off the screen.

(First published January 2003)

Picture source. Burberry, Associated Press.