Overcoats are a broad category of long coats, and trench coats are just one style that fall within this category. First designed by Thomas Burberry during World War I, the trench coat has been adapted for both men and women. Still today, this structured piece is a practical and classic look that can be styled in numerous ways.

Overcoats are sturdy and heavy coats that hit just above the ankles (full length) or just above the knees (three-quarter length). This broad category of long coats includes Chesterfield coats, which are single- or double-breasted, three-quarter length overcoats that often feature a distinctive velvet collar. For supreme warmth, some overcoats consist of a blend of wool and leather. Double-faced overcoats are made of a double-faced fabric — either single- or dual-toned — that add warmth and volume to this long coat.

Although different styles of overcoats share similar features, the trench coat stands out in the overcoat category, with its often double-breasted, full cut and coordinating belt.

Burberry’s early trench coats were made of water-resistant gabardine, a durable and tightly woven fabric; many modern trench coats still feature this versatile fabric. While many of today’s varieties are water resistant, others are not, incorporating polyester, cotton or other synthetic fibers. A water-resistant trench is a practical overcoat choice on a rainy day, while a cotton trench coat is best suited for crisp days when a light layer is needed to stay warm.

The classic men’s trench coat is a neutral overcoat that coordinates with a variety of looks. A khaki, black or charcoal gray trench is a versatile piece that pairs well with business clothes. Men’s trench coats typically feature epaulets, a decorative piece of fabric — usually fastened by a button — on the shoulders, as well as a belted waist that can be cinched to keep the coat secure.

Trench coats work for both business casual and business professional attire, as they offer a dressier feel than other overcoats. Wear one over a suit or team with a pair of dress slacks and leather loafers for a modern feel.

Women aren’t left out of the trench-coat style, which can be dressed up or down depending on the occasion. Women’s trench coats also come in classic neutral tones such as camel or black but are also available in colors ranging from royal blue to pale pink.

While they adhere to the same structure as male trench coats, these pieces for women have a decidedly feminine touch. The lapel may be less rigid, shaped in a soft ruffle rather than a structured look. While many trench coats for women do include the classic belt, others do not. Some may hit at the hips, while others might be longer and fall at the knees. Because women’s trench coats are so varied and, as a result, more casual, this type of overcoat looks as good with a pair of denim skinny jeans and ballet flats as it does with wide-leg trousers and heels.

Tips

Since so many styles of trench coats for women exist, match the formality of the trench coat to the rest of your outfit. A more casual trench works well with denim, while more classic and formal styles can be worn over a shift or sheath dress.