Fashion: Top trench

Long or short, however you wear it, the trench coat is a spring must-have. Stephanie Smith has advice on how to wear it well.

Tuesday, 29th March 2016, 9:02 am
Updated Saturday, 2nd April 2016, 7:08 am
Long trench coat by Laura Scott, £95, at

As we approach April, notorious for its rain showers, there is much to recommend a trench coat, what with its waterproof qualities and tailored yet easy thrown-on shape.

But perhaps the best reason to turn to trench coats is the plain and simple fact that they are just so darned flattering to everyone, male and female, all ages and shapes, and all heights, as long as you choose a length of trench that suits.

As a general rule of thumb, if you are short, go for a short trench, one that finishes at mid to upper thigh – and in this regard, it really is worth checking out brands that have a petite range, so that you can fit to your proportions perfectly. Keep the trench tailored and fitted. You can wear the trench both open and closed, as you prefer, but be wary if you are small of too much volume of fabric with A-line and swing styles that might make you look like a little walking lampshade.

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The short trench, as in reaching to mid thigh, is the perfect length, actually, for this spring, and it works well layered over above-the-knee dresses and skirts, for a chic and neat appeal. It’s a length that also looks good with jeans and trousers of all lengths, but especially slimline cropped trousers.

As a classic fashion icon, the trench coat has been made famous over the decades by the likes of Humphrey Bogart, Marilyn Monroe and Audrey Hepburn through to present-day stylistas Benedict Cumberbatch, Kate Moss and Alexa Chung.

The trench coat’s origins are military, and it was formally adopted during World War I when it was recognised that its lighter, shorter, waterproof characteristics would be far better suited to the sodden, muddy conditions of the trenches than the traditional military woollen great coats. Companies such as Burberry and Aquascutum began to manufacture them for the troops, with epaulettes signifying an officer’s rank, plus a gun flap at the chest for an extra layer of protection, while a flap at the back allowed the rain to run off the shoulders, and D-rings to secure various pieces of equipment.

Here in Yorkshire, the trench coat has long had a special place in our hearts because of Burberry, which makes 5,000 trench coats a week at its current Castleford site, with production moving to a new £50million site in Leeds by 2018, securing jobs and an all-important Made in Britain label.

On the High Street and online for this spring and summer to come, there are some impressive trench coat bargains to be had.

F&F at Tesco has a short shower-resistant trench coat at £29 and it comes in five colours – coral, yellow, green, cream and navy.

At Phase Eight, the Tabatha trench coat in baby blue, as featured here, costs £125, but you can buy the same classic style in stone for £84 at the moment, certainly online.

There are also some perfect shorter trenches at £45 from French company La Redoute, which has its UK base in Bradford. They come in various colours, including this season’s orange, as featured here.

Longer trenches are also very much on trend, although here I would stick to lighter, silkier fabrics for ease of movement, and a classic cream, stone, camel or khaki colour. Try these layered over floral print dresses, knee-length or above, for a mildly eccentric British country look, or over metallic tunics or fitted dresses – try your favourite little black dress – for a glamorous look that works well for special occasions, especially if you go for sweeping style that ends mid-calf.

Topshop has come up with my favourite trench this season – a hybrid in classic camel, longer length, and with a khaki hoodie attached inside. It’s in stores now and online and costs £110. The ultimate spring weather essential.