Trench Coat: combative, investigative and stylish

Not many articles of clothing created for battle have remained relevant more than one century later.

The trench coat, while holding a reputation for being worn by investigative figures like Sherlock Holmes and Inspector Gadget, was first invented for functional purposes.

The coat was originally designed in 1895 for British officers fighting in the Boer War, and its current form was developed in 1914 for soldiers in World War I. The features of the trench coat served specifically as items that would make it easier for soldiers who fought in battle.

Trench coats were originally distinguished by their military details such as epaulettes, throat latches, hook and bar closures, rain shields, D-ring belts, cuff straps and storm flaps.

The most common material used to construct the coat was gabardine, a waterproof fabric developed by Thomas Burberry in the 1870s. This highly useful fabric has managed to persevere throughout the 20th century and is used to construct almost every designer trench coat nowadays.

When anthropology major Natalie Guzman, 19, thinks of trench coats, she immediately begins to think of popular characters associated with them.

“The first thing that comes to my mind when I think of trench coats, (is) symbolic figures or characters like Sherlock Holmes. I begin to think of things like detectives with cigars or something like that,” said Guzman.

According to Guzman, the trench coat is made distinguishable by its characteristics.

“(The trench coat) is known for its length and buttons and buckles everywhere … and I know that it was basically used as a rain jacket. It was worn by like detectives back in the day, but nowadays you really only see people in high fashion wearing them … like ones with a high status. I imagine that only people in New York wear them now,” said Guzman.

The trench coat has managed to attract men, especially when it comes to public figures. Among its wearers are famous political leaders, actors and fictional characters.

Some men who have famously worn trenchcoats include Winston Churchill, Ronald Reagan and Humphrey Bogart.

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