So you want to invest in a trench coat?

Words by Isabella Wight

Because we all want to look like Francoise Hardy.

The time has come. My growing-out-of-items phase is over and all the calcium in the world won’t force me above five foot three. It’s my era of investing in my wardrobe – another valuable lesson I vaguely remember being taught in my teenage years (I was a reckless spender), but chose to completely ignore. So where does the new fashion investor start? 

Let’s say you have the essentials: a good quality button-up, well-fitting jeans, great leather shoes and a white tee. In that case, the ultimate transeasonal investment is undoubtedly the iconic trench coat – according to Audrey Hepburn, Francoise Hardy and Brigitte Bardot, no less.

For more expert style tips, check out our Fashion vertical. 

My mum is a French teacher and I never learned French. I had a French teacher living in my house for 18 years. I don’t want to hear it, I’ve regretted my foreign language refusal every day of my life (more so when I watch anything with Marion Cotillard). But at least I can live my Parisian fantasy vicariously through channeling Francoise Hardy, a ‘French Jazz Cafe’ Spotify playlist and the perfect trench coat.

I’ve wanted one since Carrie a) stormed away from Mr Big, draped in a classic trench and b) Carrie slipped in the Dior store, draped in a trench again (but a black one, of course). While I probably can’t have two just yet, I can justify one. Especially with the help of my semi-spiritual trench coat investment guru, stylist Karinda Mutabazi

“Why mess with a good thing?” she tells me. “For functionality and style the trench coat has withstood the test of time, simply because the original design was so good. A structured, double-breasted coat that belts at the waist and falls at the knee is still a core piece.” 

Consider your splurge

Karinda wisely advises that we think before we buy – this is basically the entire premise of investment purchases. “I’m drawn to styles that are a little bit left of centre, but I also appreciate classic design, so when investing in a trench coat, for example, I go for classic silhouettes that will stand the test of time. If you average it out on a cost-per-week basis and invest in a ‘forever’ piece, the initial outlay is rationalised.” 

So do your research, a little budgeting and find a classic fit that works for you. If you’re considering different brands, the fail-safe options are luxury houses like Burberry (try the Burberry collection on 24s), Max Mara and Acne Studios, whose meticulous designs and quality fabrics are made to last.

The perfect trench coat

Which brings me to the next step: discerning the good, the better and the best (we want the latter). I’ll be honest – I’ve spent too many years switching between a Uniqlo puffer and my dad’s bomber jacket to truly understand what amazing outerwear looks and feels like. According to Karinda, there are two key factors to the investment trench coat: fabric and fit.

“Fabric is key – always favour natural fibres! If you’re making a big investment, make sure your hard-earned coin is going towards something that’s actually going to last. I would also be looking at the silhouette… try on lots of different styles until you find something that works well for your body,” she says.

Making it work for your wardrobe

The best part of any purchase is not receiving it in the mail (even if getting a package significantly boosts my serotonin), but styling it with your already-existing wardrobe favourites. With a trench coat, the options are basically endless. 

You could wear it with straight-cut jeans and biker boots à la Alexa Chung, or belted as a dress with some slouchy boots like the queen Meryl Streep in Kramer vs. Kramer. I’m a low-maintenance dresser, so my ideal is likely a combination of jeans, sneakers, a cap and some kind of graphic tee (a cool one, promise). 

Karinda shares the goes-with-everything sentiment. “A good trench coat can be worn with basically anything, it’s the perfect transeasonal item. You need to find a cut that is going to be flattering and versatile… look for a style that can be thrown on over an evening dress and your favourite jumper/tracksuit combo and anything in between.”

To start the hunt for your ultimate trench coat, head here

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