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Five Classic Men’s Coats

In This Series 

The Trench Coat

Reasons to buy

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Reasons to avoid

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(Image credit: Unknown)

Corby single-breasted trench coat, £650, buy on (opens in new tab)

The expert: Ying Sy, Head of Menswear, Aquascutum (opens in new tab)

What are the origins of the trench coat?

It was developed for the military in the First World War because soldiers needed a durable, water-resistant coat to repel rain, mud and liquids.

Why is it an essential part of a man’s wardrobe?

It’s practical and versatile, has stood the test of time and evolved from its military origins to something private investigators and spies wore in the ’50s and ’60s, to Wall Street bankers in the ’80s, to the wardrobe staple today.

Humphrey Bogart brought his own trench coat to wear in the film Casablanca, it’s that essential. We’ve collaborated with his estate to reproduce that exact style, which we launched in May. It’s a more classic, loose fit. Inside it has a deep pocket for your newspaper and a watch pocket.

What should a man look for when buying one?

It should be a good fit in a durable fabric. The slimmer fit is more fashionable, whereas the traditional cut suits a businessman who can wear a suit underneath. Go for the timeless colours such as beige, navy or black.

What details make your trench the best?

Our classic is always in a cotton gabardine fabric, which is water repellent. The belt always has a D ring, which dates from its military history, when soldiers attached a grenade to it.

Every season we add an alternative like military green or pale blue. This season, it’s royal blue, which goes well with navy and charcoal, and is easy to dress up or down.

It was originally mid-calf length, but now we also offer the Corby, which is knee length, and the Richmond, which is hip length and popular with younger clients.

How do you keep it current?

We don’t change the original but we develop new ones every season, in lighter fabrics and different colours – and we use modern methods, such as laser cutting or bonding rather than stitching.

How many do you own?

I have upwards of 10. I wear the Corby, in beige and navy, all the time and I wear the Nylon one in the summer.

What’s the best way to wear it?

My style is smart casual; I wear it with smart pants, a shirt and trainers. In summer, I wear it in navy with lightweight chinos, a T-shirt and white trainers. You can also wear it over a smart suit. I even wore one to a wedding.