From the Trenches: Behind this Iconic Coat

Our favorite wear-with-anything coat didn’t get as amazing as it is simply overnight. Here, more on this rainy-day (or, well, any-day) staple and its storied past.

1856: Thomas Burberry (yes, that Burberry) invented gabardine, a rugged material that was waterproof, rip-proof, and remarkably breathable – making it ideal for wartime.

1899: Gabardine was used for combat coats (referred to as “Burberrys”) in the South African Boer War.

1914 – 1918: The coat of choice for British officers in World War I was most similar to the version we know today. Dubbed a “trench coat” by soldiers in the front lines, its durable, weather-repellant construction made it a staple within the muddy trenches. Along with the iconic storm-flap and belt, details included D-rings (for holding hand grenades and swords), and epaulettes for military insignia.

1920s: As veterans returned home from war – trench coats in tow – the style soared in popularity among civilians.

1939 – 1945: While trench warfare wasn’t pivotal to World War II, the trench coat still certainly was, adopted by participating nations well beyond the United Kingdom.

1945 – present day: Off the battlefield, the trench still lives on. Chalk it up to its air of official duty – or how it completely flatters the waist – but (and both Dick Tracy and Holly Golightly would agree) this outerwear icon’s allure is enduringly irresistible.

To make this classic coat your very own, check out our For Fall Showers: Classic Trench Coats Boutique on Sunday, August 12, 2012 at 11AM ET.

By Sarah Stanley, Staff Writer

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August 11, 2012