There’s a reason why I own four trench coats—a classic khaki rain-repellent one, a black satin style, a python-print option, and a light-weight leather jacket—a trench is truly timeless and one of the most versatile items one can buy. At this time of year when the weather is constantly changing, it’s the perfect topper. When it’s chilly, I sometimes layer one over a fur vest and belt it tightly. On a warm day, I might leave it unbuttoned and tie the belt casually in the back.
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Belted, a trench works with almost any piece—wide-leg trousers, skinny capris, culottes, boyfriend jeans, a pencil skirt or a full pleated one—because it defines your waist. Worn over a monochromatic base, such as a black turtleneck and pencil skirt or a white shirt and white jeans, the trench pulls the whole look together in a slightly jet-set way.
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I also love how a classic trench can look over a cocktail dress or evening separates. It’s similar, in that way, to a tuxedo jacket; it almost looks as if a man was chivalrous enough to lend you his coat in the spur of the moment (maybe I’ve watched too many old movies, but you get the idea!).
A leather or suede one can suggest a cool ’70s vibe, and looks fantastic with a stacked heel boot or platform shoe. Almost any trench is complemented by a pointy toe pump. For the weekend or a casual work day, the shape also looks great with a mannish loafer or brogue.
I could go on and on…but, hear me now: if you don’t own at least one great trench, you are making it harder to get dressed than it needs to be. I consider the trench coat to be as essential to everyone’s wardrobes as the iconic LBD. Spend what you can afford on one that really speaks to you; you will never regret it.
Here are nine great trenches at a range of prices.
From left: Max Mara, $745; matchesfashion.com. A.P.C., $660; net-a-porter.com. Diane von Furstenberg, $513; matchesfashion.com.
From left: Isabel Marant, $600; lagarconne.com. Burberry, $1,495; mytheresa.com. Banana Republic, $698; bananarepublic.com.
From left: Topshop, $150; topshop.com. Elizabeth and James, $625; net-a-porter.com. Madewell, $148 (originally $198); madewell.com.