I am a self-admitted enabler when it comes to convincing my friends and co-workers to purchase clothing. That said, I'm not blindly enthusiastic. Being able to discern which pieces are truly worth a splurge is one of my talents, and when it comes to the tried-and-true trench coat, I wholeheartedly stand behind this solid investment. Few fashion items have stood the test of time to reach the wardrobe hall of fame, but the trench coat is one that has ultimate staying power.
Perhaps its immortal status has something to do with its chameleon-like ability to adapt to the trends of the moment--embellishments, fabrics, cuts, you name it! Because of its lasting appeal, the coat has been popular among legendary ladies from both the past and the present, as everyone from Audrey Hepburn in Breakfast at Tiffany’s to Kate Moss has slipped on one. The trench is such an iconic piece, so I wanted to show a range of fresh ways to wear it, from the classic khaki version to iterations with modern updates, like a contrast sleeve.
Look 1: Classic Trench
Though there are as many variations of the trench as there are of the LBD, I thought I would begin with a classic interpretation. Although Burberry created the original trench and still remains the gold standard, there are incredible, affordable options out there that can be just as chic, like my Club Monaco version. When selecting your personal coat of arms, keep an eye out for the classic details that have made this outerwear option a universal staple. Although elements like the storm patch, wrist cuffs, and belt were originally created solely for utilitarian purposes, they now do double duty as fashionable accents.
Although the trench was created for inclement weather, I wanted to show it works just as well for a night out. Perhaps it has something to do with all the dashing men who have worn the coat, but there is something alluring and masculine about the topper, which is why it’s the perfect contrast to a feminine cocktail dress. After picking my ruffled dress, I accessorized with a chain-strap bag to hold all my evening essentials and a pair of strappy heels with metallic silver and neon red accents, which help keep the otherwise neutral look interesting.
What I Wore: Club Monaco Marianna Trench ($329); Maje Abraca Black Dress ($460); Lulu Frost Immortality Bracelet ($265); Charles David Tansy Heels ($169); Reiss Ruffle Bag in Black ($150, similar style available here).
Look 2: Quirky Print
Like any wardrobe classic, the trench coat is easy to reinvent. While the traditional version I wore in my first outfit will always be in style, when it comes to trendy updates, my Boy. by Band of Outsiders version is a triple threat. Not only does it feature contrast sleeves and an unexpected bottle green hue, the pattern on the sleeves has a charming map print of the Southwest United States. Additionally, its slightly shorter hemline is actually elongating, which works perfectly on petite women like myself.
Triple layering is one of my favorite styling tricks for adding complexity to any outfit. As for how to execute the look without bulky sleeves. it’s all about using a vest as your middle layer. I opted for a denim vest, which I layered over a slouchy tee, for a casual off-duty feel. Skinny gray jeans and combat boots completed the weekend ensemble.
What I Wore: Boy. by Band of Outsiders Trench ($1195, 212.826.8900) in Army Green Travel Print; LNA Desert Crew ($90) in Desert; Aurelie Bidermann Bronze Mharaja Earrings ($240); AG The Heather Vest ($198) in Dixon; Mother The Looker Jeans ($198) in True Hollywood Lies; Laura Lombardi Cortona Necklace ($84); Steve Madden Thundr-C Boots ($100) in Black; VC Signature Anna Hobo ($280).
Look 3: Detachable Sleeve
There’s nothing that quite tickles my fancy like a clothing item that can transform two different ways (though cargo zip-off pants-to-shorts are an exception). After all, when it comes to rationalizing a purchase, nothing makes a stronger case. While it’s still chilly, my Gryphon trench with removable arms looks stylish with the sleeves attached, but it’s just as fashionable as a sleeveless jacket for warmer days, allowing for seamless transitioning between seasons.
For my last outfit, I took the trench back to its British birthplace with a nod to mod fashion. Inspired by all of the '60s-influenced spring collections, I started with a pair of bold checked trousers. I then continued the retro theme with a coordinating newsboy cap. To keep the outfit from bordering on costume-like, I balanced the mod vibe with a modern oversized clutch and of-the-moment white heels.
What I Wore: Gryphon Knit Sleeve Trench Coach ($895) in Black/Tan (available in Black/Grey); Eugenia Kim Elyse Cap ($160); Tibi Silk Split Neck Top ($265) in Black; Stella & Dot Femme Fatale Necklace ($118); kate spade new york Checkered David Capri ($248); Tommy Hilfiger Croc Embossed 3 Zipper Portfolio ($228, 212.233.1824); H&M White Slingbacks ($50, available late March).
P.S.: Do you have a trend you're not quite sure how to wear? Leave a message in the comments, and yours truly might try it out!