TRENCH COATS & HOW TO WEAR THEM

Trench coats are kind of a big thing this year.   Timeless, sophisticated and chic, the Trench is always in style of course, but the designers have put their fashion spin on the original utilitarian Trench Coat and they were all over the catwalks for 2017-18 and in all manner of guises and have had street style trend setters, fashion press and their followers going wild in the aisles.   With huge puffed power shoulders at Balenciaga, luxe-y fabrics and detailing at Bottega Veneta, fun, sporty ties at Marni and exaggerated cape-style sleeves and lapels at Rosetta Getty and stripped back simplicity at Celine, there was a huge variety of styles, but oversized was definitely the fit of choice.

Details

Left to right: Beautiful sleeve detailing at Rosetta Getty and cut out details at Maison Margiela

celine

Pared back at Celine

Media-Marmalade

Street Style photo from Media Marmalade

All year-round, the Trench Coat is an effortless style item, and if you choose wisely, it will be a versatile wardrobe staple for many years to come. There aren’t many outfits that wouldn’t benefit from the addition of a good trench coat and particularly in the case of the Burberry Heritage, a suitably cared for trench is Heirloom worthy and will serve the lucky hand-me-down recipient for many more years to come.

burberry-trench-coat-11

shrimp

Jean Shrimpton

A LITTLE BIT OF HISTORY

Made in England, the iconic Burberry Trench coat was originally submitted as a design by Thomas Burberry as an alternative to the heavy ‘greatcoat’ and meant for officers’ wear in the trenches during the First World War – hence the name. Burberry had earlier invented the lightweight, but heavy-duty Gabardine in 1879, and the smooth & durable weave of cotton was adapted for the military and has been used for the classic style ever since.

With a detachable warm lining, the waterproof, double breasted coat with functional features like a storm flap and button close pockets, shoulder straps and adjustable buckled wrists (to prevent rain pouring down the wrists while using binoculars) made the stylish coat highly functional. Like Mary Poppins – Practically perfect in every way!

original trench

IN THE MOVIES

The low-key, incognito choice of the secret agent and private detective (think Humphrey Bogart’s Rick Blaine in Casablanca, Micheal Caine in The Ipcress File, James Bond – or Inspector Clouseau!) the Trench has featured in many a movie icon’s wardrobe, such as Catherine Deneuve’s Belle Du Jour, who actually wore at least three versions of the trench, in black patent, brown, fur lined leather and wool. Meryl Streep in Kramer vs Kramer, Marlene Dietrich in A Foreign Affair and Kill Bill’s Daryll Hannah in Moschino Trompe l’oeil to name but a few.

Scandalo Internazionale 1948       BOGART TRENCH

 Greta Garbo, A Foreign Affair.  Humphrey Bogart, Casablanca

mochino-line-jacket-kill-bill

                              Daryl Hannah (in Moschino) Kill Bill

burberry-coats

Meryl Streep, Kramer vs Kramer

 

And although the Trench is (generally) waterproof, that was the last thing on Holly Golightly’s mind during her rain soaked kiss in Breakfast at Tiffany’s and with her bare legs, drenched hair and belted mac, Audrey Hepburn couldn’t fail to look ravishing could she?

Holly Golightly

      George Peppard and Audrey Hepburn ‘Twinning’ in Breakfast at Tiffany’s

Trench coat Lady Diana

            Fit for a Princess. Lady Diana working two looks in her faithful mac

HOW TO WEAR RIGHT NOW

If you are splashing some cash and making an investment with your Trench coat purchase, go with a classic style and fit to suit you. For instance, the Burberry Heritage mac comes in three silhouettes; slim, which is short and fitted with punky tighter sleeves; tailored, which is slightly longer and with a regular sleeve; and the longer classic, worn as a loose fit. Three styles which are literally built to last and will stand up to both the rain and fashion’s fickle changes, but whether you are going for a new ‘fash-on’ shape, or sticking with a classic, you can style up your trench to work the trend right now…

GET PLAYFUL!

Dare to leave the top buttons open, throw the collars off the shoulder and belt into a coat dress?

Play with sleeves and textures, with shirt cuffs, or long knits hanging out from three quarter length sleeves and hems.  Deconstruct and mess with fastenings and ties to create different sleeve shapes and fits.

Collage

Off the shoulder at Balenciaga (left) Beautifully knotted at Margiela (eau de nil and white, centre) and street snaps by Jonathon Daniel Pryce.

LITTLE BELTER

With its exaggerated proportions, the storm flap on a classic trench also has magically waist flattering powers and it’s nothing groundbreaking to say that the trench can be buckled or knotted in the front and nipped in to accentuate the waist, but mess around with different belt styles too – take off the self belt and add a skinny leather one, or feed a printed silk scarf or men’s tie through the back loops and tie a big silky bow at the back.

Belted Trench Coats

Go BIG!

And if in doubt, go BIGGER!!  Slouchy, oversized, roomy and laid back. Dare I say it again? OVERSIZED is best for styling right now also and very handy for layering up for the work commute in winter.

Oversized

SOME THINGS IN LIFE ARE FREE!

COULD YOU TRAVEL WITH ONLY THE MAGAZINE FREEBIES FROM THE AIRPORT?

MY SISTER IS A GENIUS  

I am usually a very good travel packer and can do ‘hand luggage only’ for most occasions, but recently, while packing for a very long trip, my luggage already comprised clothes, shoes, work stuff, gifts, books, kitchen sink… (you get the idea) and it dawned on me that skincare, hair and sunscreen products would take me over my allowance and cost an arm and a leg in excess baggage (!!!)  While I was sitting on the floor, bewildered and staring at my case, my sister popped her head around the door to laugh at me; said “You always leave it until the last minute” and then offered these words of wisdom:

“Erm HELLOOOO…. take an empty hand luggage bag and buy it all once you have checked in! And do you want a glass of wine?”

#bestsisterever

 

Seriously, I can’t believe I haven’t been using this post check-in shopping technique for years. Is this how everyone travels??     It works even on 2 or more legged journeys, like mine was, because check-in never weigh your hand luggage as long as the bag isn’t over the restricted size (so check the overhead locker allowance size first) and security are fine with bottles over 100ml as long as they are in the sealed duty free bags with the receipt attached. Happy Days!!   I also managed to buy the extra value size bottles of my Clarins skincare (an airport only offer) which was brilliant for me as I’ll be away for long enough to use them – extra bonus, woop woop!

 

On the evening of ‘revelation’ while slurping on wine with my sister, smug in the knowledge that I had at least a day left to pack because I didn’t need to go beauty shopping and that I would probably even have plenty of space and weight allowance for more shoes and accessories now (oops) … and we came up with a challenge:

 

COULD YOU GO ON HOLIDAY WITH ONLY THE CLOTHES ON YOUR BACK, THE CONTENTS OF YOUR HANDBAG AND MAGAZINE FREE GIFTS FROM THE AIRPORT?

 

This challenge came up based on all of the magazine freebies we could remember from past such as the metallic, waterproof ‘beach wallet’ from Elle magazine, meant for keeping your wet bikini in, that I have had for years and now use to carry my sketchbook and paints. The perfume samples (woe betide the girl who tested an original formula Christian Dior Poison sachet on the way to school) and how a slightly too see-through pink singlet (Glamour Mag?) an ill-fitting blue bikini, which along with some big plastic Jackie O style sunglasses (free the summer before in Red magazine) became my ‘capsule wardrobe’ until my baggage arrived in Greece 48 hours after me one year.   

 

We sniggered over a free ‘sarong’ which may have served better as a magician’s handkerchief, but came in handy as a headscarf, the racy paperback novel and the countless weird smelling hand creams we’ve all have kicking around for yonks – until the day you go to use it and realise it’s gone off.  But we agreed that the quality of free gifts has improved since the 90’s and reckon the trick would be to start snaffling freebies in May (remember your handbag contents are allowed) and then pick up those last few essentials with your August Edition mags at the airport in June and have enough for at least a long weekend away!

 

So if you weren’t packing for a few months away and you were up for a frugal challenge, here’s what a long weekend with just a handbag and free glossy magazine freebies might involve…

Magazine Free Gift Collage

Stuff your bikini into your oh-so cool basket bag (purchased using the ASOS 20% discount card, free in Elle this summer maybe?) and get prepped using your free May and June goodies haul the evening before the flight:

  • St Tropez Gradual Tan (Marie Claire, June) saving one top up application for while you are away.
  • Nails Inc polish that came with Elle in May (it also came with a free issue of Cosmopolitan, it was a good month).
  • Neal’s Yard Bee Lovely hand cream and take it with you to double as body lotion (Marie Claire, May)

 

Wearing: espadrilles, undies, shorts, white shirt, sarong as a scarf, kimono type duster coat big hoop earrings and

 

  • 100% UV protective sunglasses in either black, grey or tortoise shell – I went for Tortoise Shell (Tatler, July)

 

And from your August editions at the airport –

  • Rodial Glamolash mascara in black (Red Magazine) a free face cream and body scrub sachet from L’Oreal also in the mag.
  • Elemis Pro Definition Day Cream 15ml (BAZAAR Magazine) and subscribe to the Mag for 6 issues for £6 and receive a full sized Elemis face wash next month!
  • Eyeko Brow Gel, from a choice of eyelash curler, brow gel or mascara (Marie Claire)
  • Toni & Guy Damage Repair shampoo and conditioner sample sachets (also in Marie Claire)

 

Obviously, this exercise was just a bit of fun, but I do think I could cope with a long weekend in the sun ‘baggage free’ for at least a long weekend if I had sunscreen, travel soap and a razor in my hand bag too.  Sadly there were no free smutty novels, but I have plenty of magazines to read on the beach!

 

ALWAYS IN FASHION – THE BRETON STRIPED SHIRT

Synonymous with Parisian style, the Breton striped shirt is an absolute classic and a wardrobe staple that every fashion savvy closet needs. In fact almost every wardrobe probably has at least one version, or indeed a Breton inspired item and I for one, can not pass a striped t-shirt in a store or online without seriously considering adding it to my cart because the humble striped sailor striped shirt, which began it’s life as a hard working uniform item is more than just practical, it’s highly wearable, versatile and chic too!   And speaking of chic, was there ever a more French item of apparel? Presumably in Paris, every teenager is bequeathed a one-size-fits-all breton as a right of sartorial passage. ‘OK Claudette, the beret is optional (but de rigueur right now!) but the Breton is an essential, oui? …or something like that.

And in the words of the French fashion designer Jean Paul Gaultier;

“I’ve always loved the graphic and architectural aspect of stripes,”  “They go with everything, never go out of style, and probably never will.”

Breton Jean Paul Gaultier

And we totally agree! And because i always think it’s nice to be informed and have a little backstory on such icons, here’s a little history…

MAN OVERBOARD

The style was originally introduced for the French Navy in 1858 and featured 21 stripes – each stripe meant to represent a victory of Napoleon Bonaparte and was (and still is) produced in Bretagne (pronounced ‘Breton’) by the company Tricot St James as hard wearing, wool and cotton shirts in distinctive blue and white stripes which made overboard mariners easier to spot in the waves (the ultimate in practicality). The shirts were known as ‘matelot’ or ‘marinière’ (Sailor) shirts, and became popular with local Breton workers on shore too.

aston Paris/Roger Viollet/Getty I
COCO

Endeared by the easy style and practicality of the sailors breton top and pants during a trip to the coast of France, Coco Chanel went on to create the first casual womenswear collection of designs; the ‘Nautical Collection’ in 1917. In an era when tight corsets, heavy skirts and buttoned up jackets were still the fashion, trousers were considered unladylike and still frowned upon, so Coco’s nautical inspired, unstructured separates with ‘beach pyjamas’ – flared, long legged pants, with ‘pullover’ breton sweaters (with no fastenings!) and masculine style belts were a far cry from the Belle Epoch silhouette, but were accepted on the more relaxed french Riviera where resorts such as St Tropez were becoming popular at the time and where she and her friends showcased her designs and the collection caught on and the designs were featured in British and American Vogue. Et Voila, Coco Chanel literally changed the shape of women’s casual fashion forever and from it’s working class beginnings, the Breton top became a symbol of Haute-Bourgeois style on the riviera and has endured as an iconic fashion item ever since.

Coco Chanel

AS SEEN ON SCREEN

Many times reproduced, the basic ‘breton-style shirt’ has since been associated with writers, artists (both struggling and successful) beatniks, rock stars, punks & movie stars, bikers, it girls and the all-round stylish.

In the 1930’s the style was popular as leisure wear with decadents and intellectuals like F Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald and then in late 1950s and ’60s, the style boomed once more with the Beatnik Movement and French New Wave cinema, with artsy boys in berets and wayfarer sunglasses and tomboyish girls with gamine looks, black tights and ballet pumps like Jean Seberg in ‘Breathless’ and Jeanne Moreau in ‘Jules et Jim’ and in the United States, Audrey Hepburn in ‘Funny Face’ and Edie Sedgwick in Andy Warhol’s 1965 film ‘Kitchen’.

Breton Seberg Madonna Karenina Hepburn

Clockwise from top left: Jean Seberg and Madonna, stealing Jean’s style for her Papa Don’t Preach video; Anthony Quinn and Anna Karina; Audrey Hepburn.

Breto Bardot

Brigitte Bardot super stripe advocate; and Leslie Caron in the original and still the best St James Marinière 

Breton Andy Warhol Edie
Edie Sedgwick and Andy Warhol  

Breto Pablo Picasso
The Breton was a favourite of Pablo Picasso and check out his plaid and stripes print mix – so on trend! 

Breton Dillon Stones Velvet Underground

A favourite with musicians and rock stars such as (from top left) Bob Dylan; Keith Richards; Mick Jagger, Brian Jones and The Velvet Underground, a swell as Adam and the Ants, Alex Turner, Mark Ronson, Kurt Cobain,  Debbie Harry, The Police… I could go on

Breton Boys
Usher; Idris Alba; David Beckham and Alex Turner

Breton Stripes

Breton Marlon Dean and Redford

The Wild One, Marlon Brando 1953; Rebel Without A Cause, James Dean 1955; in and Robert Redford smouldering in stripes.

Breto Print Mixing

And if the photos above weren’t inspiration enough, stripes can – and should be liberally applied with prints and block colours of all types!