Fashion & Beauty · Film & Television

The Trench Coat—a Fashion Icon


Marlene Dietrich in “Witness for the Prosecution” (1975) and Sophia Loren in “The Key” (1958). Image via

The trench coat is the ultimate item to have transcended its utilitarian role without loosing any of its mystique. Originally conceived as a lightweight coat for the British army by Burberry and Aquascutum, today’s trench coat is easily considered a woman’s secret outer weapon. It has the power to impart sexuality and danger without losing any of the irony the stars of the Hollywood classic films projected on the silver screen.

The 1940s wartime suspense movies were the apex of glamour. The trench coat embodied and emboldened a sense of threat that went beyond wind and rain. We wonder: would Marlene Dietrich be so dangerous and alluring if  she hadn’t tied the knot at the waist and turned up the collar in the 1948 classic A Foreign Affair? Arguably, it was the trench coat that sealed the deal for Dietrich’s legendary allure.

Sofia Lauren’s earthy sexuality is all the more appealing in this classic look (pictured above) from the late 1950s. The double-breasted khaki trench is buttoned and belted, and the upturned collar sets off the knot of her head-scarf, to emphasize her luminous sensuality.

By the early 1960s Audrey Hepburn had captivated audiences with her beauty. In Breakfast at Tiffany’s she is every girl’s New York story, the ingénue with a trick up her sleeve. Her trench coat look combines vulnerability with a playful sense of adventure. The cat will ultimately bring her and George Peppard together, but it’s the trench that sends out all the right signals.

audrey-hepburn-rain-mac-breakfast-at-tiffanysGeorge Peppard and Audrey Hepburn in “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” (1961). Image via

There are many ways to wear a trench coat, but the winning combination is always about attitude. As a versatile all-purpose utilitarian, the trench coat has the potential to channel the danger, allure, mystery, and sensuality in all of us. The iconic look hasn’t lost any of its appeal from its days of classic Hollywood.

Editor’s Note: Here are our favorite picks for trench coats this season, each with just the right blend of classic and contemporary. Our picks are meant to serve as a guide to your selections of the price points, colors, and silhouettes that best complement your unique style. 


0.365x365Khaki Mid-Length Cotton Gabardine Courtdale Trench Coat, by Burberry London.



Posh Cotton Green Trench Coat, by Karen Millen.



Faux Leather-Trimmed Cotton-Twill Trench Coat, by Helene Berman



Cotton Blend Trench Coat, by Derek Lam.


img-thingSpring Trench, by Boden.

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