Trench Coat vs. Overcoat: Everything You Need To Know
When it comes to outerwear, finding the right jacket or coat for the occasion and the weather may seem like a no-brainer. After all, if it’s cold, anything that’ll keep you warm will suffice, right? It’s actually not that simple – especially when it comes to outerwear meant to be worn over semi-formal or formal wear, like trench coats and overcoats.
While both garments seemingly have similar designs, the functionality of these coats differs quite greatly, so if you’re in the market for either a trench coat or overcoat and can’t decide what the best option is for you, don’t fret. Here’s everything you need to know about trench coats, overcoats, the history of each, and more.
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What Is a Trench Coat?
A trench coat is a piece of outerwear designed to be worn in inclement weather; particularly, in wet weather or when it’s raining out. The invention of the trench coat dates back to the early to mid-1800s. According to Vogue Encyclopaedia, trench coats were invented in the 1820s by Scottish chemist and inventor Charles Macintosh and British inventor Thomas Hancock, who founded the British rubber industry.
The first waterproof coats created by Macintosh and Hancock – originally called “macks” – were made out of rubberized cotton and were worn by “well-dressed men” who participated in outdoor activities like hunting, fishing, riding, and other outdoor activities, and were also worn by those in the military.
In 1853, a man named John Amary made an improved version of the coat, thanks to the evolving technology which made the rubber coating become more breathable, better at repelling water, and more. Amary named his company Aquascutum, and it became one of the more well-known brands of the time – that is until Thomas Burberry came along a few years later in 1956 and changed the game. He became synonymous with the luxury trench coat in 1879 thanks to his invention of gabardine, a breathable fabric that consists of individual strands of weatherproof materials like cotton and wool.
Nowadays, trench coats are considered an essential part of every man’s wardrobe, especially if you live in a climate where it rains a lot or is prone to other wet weather conditions – fog, mist, etc.
What Is an Overcoat?
An overcoat is also a piece of outerwear that is designed to keep you warm and is also designed to be worn over suits or other formal wear. Dating back to the 18th century, overcoats often symbolized one’s social status and were worn with professional attire or military attire.
Overcoats are typically made of heavy wool and have a full-length silhouette, however, it is not uncommon nowadays to see overcoats that hit mid-shin or just below the knee. One of the most well-known overcoat brands is Crombie, which has been worn by everyone from British soldiers to the likes of Winston Churchill, The Beatles, JFK, and more iconic public figures throughout history.
What Are the Key Differences Between a Trench Coat and an Overcoat?
While trench coats and overcoats are pieces of outerwear, there are a few key differences between the two – the first and most important being the purpose and function of each garment. Trench coats are essentially luxury raincoats and are designed to keep the wearer dry, while overcoats are designed to keep the wearer warm and are not waterproof or water-resistant.
Additionally, overcoats are usually meant to be worn over a suit and trousers, a sport coat, or other formal wear items. While both pieces of outerwear have a longer silhouette than your average jacket that hits at the waist or hip, trench coats typically hit anywhere from right at the knee to mid-shin. Overcoats come in a variety of lengths as well but range from a full-length silhouette to one that hits at the knee.
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Must Have Trench Coats
If you’re going to buy just one trench coat in your entire life, you have to go with a classic, like the Burberry Westminster Heritage Trench Coat, which comes in three different colors and features the iconic plaid pattern on the inside lining of the coat. Throw it on over your office casual outfit on a rainy day or when you’re running errands on the weekend – no matter how you style it, you’ll look like a million bucks.
Another great option for a luxury trench coat is the Ralph Lauren Burnham Twill Trench Coat, which is great for those who are looking for a trench that differs from the classic khaki trench and offers a deeper, richer olive hue that’ll set you apart from a sea of neutral raincoats. If you’re on the hunt for a trench coat that is a little more modern in the cut and style, try the Calvin Klein Men’s Munson Slim-Fit Modern Raincoat, which comes in a cool muted turquoise blue or edgy black, and hits just above the knee for an updated twist on a tried-and-true classic.
Must Have Overcoats
You truly can’t go wrong with a classic overcoat like the Crombie Pure Melton Wool Navy Retro Coat, which pairs well with pretty much any color suit or sport coat and trousers – the navy color isn’t as harsh as black, and is much more versatile when it comes to styling your cold weather formal look.
If you’re looking for an overcoat that’s a little more modern, check out the Lauren Ralph Lauren Men’s Luther Luxury Blend Overcoat, which is available in five colors – olive, camel, black, wine, and vicuna tan – and features a sleek silhouette that hits right at the knee.
For those who are in the market for a fresh twist on the overcoat, you need to feast your eyes on the Hayes Quilted Spanish Shearling Sheepskin Car Coat, which features a quilted design and will keep you warm and dry in any climate. Pair it with slim-fitting black bottoms and a cashmere or chunky sweater and you’ve got yourself the perfect upscale casual look that’ll take you from a holiday dinner to the bar in no time.
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