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  • Writer's pictureLisa Hollister

Trench Coat: Keep or Donate?

Being a native of Pasadena, CA, I admit that when I got my first trench coat, I didn't know exactly when to wear it or how to style it. They say California drivers don’t know how to drive in the rain, and I applied the theory to my new trench coat.

It was initially worn during travel, through seasonal transitions and at occasional in-person business meetings when I wanted to feel like “Bogie.” (Humphrey Bogart - he really wore it.)

In recent times, it’s had little to no use and often forgotten. I recently came across it during a closet clean out and got it ready to donate. With a last look, I wondered if I could attempt to rework it back in to the steady circulation of clothes I wear. I started googling how to better style it, when to wear and use it. I wanted to learn more about this beige coat, my former, infrequent buddy. I researched its history, read articles and gathered images. I discovered it has a variety of wear, layering potential and you can toss it over jeans. At closer look, it was no longer a “rain” coat. It was validated as a “keep” item and a good match to fit in to my lifestyle. It represented mystery and style. If it was good enough for Bogie, Bowie and so many others, I wanted it around.

While researching, I found out some wonderful and interesting history about it. Starting from its war origin (the First World War in the trenches, literally), why the color beige was intentional and necessary for war wear. It claimed two important years 1853 London’s Aquascutum patent and 1888 Thomas Burberry’s Tielocken – military design patent. It built up a movie presence, became a cool celebrity fashion pick, and has kept steady popularity through the years. I realized my trench coat had a rich history.

The images said it all:

Thomas Burberry's military trench coat (1910)

Aquascutum's military trench coat for men and women (1914)

Bogart in Burberry, Casablanca (1943)

Audrey Hepburn in Burberry, Breakfast at Tiffany's (1961)

The Impressionists (1970)

Paul Weller and Pete Townsend in Soho (1980)

David Bowie (1998)

Paris Fashion Week (Present Day)

I've developed a renewed admiration for my trench coat with a variety of use. I can appreciate its history as a war hero and its journey as a present-day favorite. I’m so glad I did my research. In the candidate/ recruiter/ hiring world, we know that research is important. It gives you leverage. Research is key in making decisions. So, decision made; my trench coat now has a key spot in the closet. I’ve learned it has a wide range of practical use and how it gloriously earned the fashion title “perennial classic.” Definitely a keeper.

Images from Pinterest, the, stock images and the Smithsonian Gallery

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Article written by Lisa Hollister

About the Author

Lisa Hollister, PHR is the Founder of Talent Suede; a recruiting service, started 5 years ago. With 15 years of industry experience, Lisa specializes in sourcing top talent for corporate and creative apparel roles. She enjoys working in the ever-evolving fashion industry and building quality relationships. In her spare time she makes time for family, including her two dogs that act like humans! She just finished a recent closet clean out.

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