The current political milieu means that looking too officious has taken a hit. Smarter, more upright dress codes can nowadays run the risk of looking stuffy, or a little too “establishment”. Just look to the rise of streetwear for proof of a rebellion against corporate attire. But with the arrival of spring, there’s one item that is always sartorially welcome despite its history as a British military uniform icon: the trench coat.
And why not? It’s lightweight, easy to wear and adds a more “together” stance to even the most standard of ensembles thanks to the signifiers that subtly allude to its military heritage (the epaulets and belt, chest panels and vents). Burberry and Aquascutum may duel it out over who can lay claim to its creation, but whichever is responsible, it sprang to life during WWI to outfit officers, hence its sense of propriety and ceremony.
It helps, of course, that the trench coat has some of the most enduring men’s style icons in its camp: the pop-collared brooding mystery of Mr Humphrey Bogart; the glacial sharpness of Mr Alain Delon in Le Samouraï; Sir Michael Caine looking every inch the polished action man in Get Carter. The broad range of handsome fans is testament to the trench coat’s versatility; it complements traditional officewear thanks to its polished nature but works just as fluidly with a pair of jeans and cashmere sweater. And with the emphasised shoulders, buckles and hardware, it’s something that men’s style hasn’t been comfortable with in a very long time: it is unapologetically masculine.