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Trench Coat - the 'Ultimate' Thread!

Doctor Damage

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Here's a nice coat worn by Prince Edward. I really like the 1990s proportions.

gettyimages-458750271-1024x1024.jpg
 

Doctor Damage

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^ That's great, thanks for posting Tom.

I'll definitely check out the catalog link this weekend and see what other stuff BR was selling in its heyday!
 

Ernest P Shackleton

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Thanks A LOT for posting that link Tiki Tom. I loved those catalogues, the art, and many of their choices. I see they even offered those old German extreme cold weather fatigues. I'd forgotten they sometimes sold military surplus.
 

Doctor Damage

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Thanks A LOT for posting that link Tiki Tom. I loved those catalogues, the art, and many of their choices. I see they even offered those old German extreme cold weather fatigues. I'd forgotten they sometimes sold military surplus.
Genuine military surplus?? I had no idea they did that, but I guess it makes sense they'd buy warehouse of stuff or a hundred boxes of something and why not flog them.
 

Kenneth Lawson

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Do you remember Simon & Simon On Tv in the early 1980s?
Rick Simon wore a I know now is a safari jacket.
Seems to me that would be a nice light summer jacket.
 

Doctor Damage

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Ernest P Shackleton

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Genuine military surplus?? I had no idea they did that, but I guess it makes sense they'd buy warehouse of stuff or a hundred boxes of something and why not flog them.
These WGerman pants were practically give-aways back then. I have a couple pairs, and I don't think I paid more than $5 for them. Great little blog article on them. Same Banana Republic catalog page as that wool trench.

http://heberhiking.blogspot.com/2011/03/west-german-wool-army-pants.html
 

Retired EE

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After reviewing this long thread, I'm reminded of my trench coat buying saga from the late 1980's. The story may offer some insights into the way things were in the 1980s and early 90s. My apologies, in advance, for the length of this post.

Prologue: During my teen years in the early 1970s, trench coats were still a popular raincoat style. My parents bought me a basic trench coat in the mid- 1970's, which if I remember correctly, was a Botany 500 brand. After college (1981), I started to wear it to work on rainy days. During one heavy downpour, deciding to test its water resistance, I walked about 3/4 mile from one building in our R&D complex to another building wearing it and a rain hat. The trench coat failed... badly. Water soaked thru the seams, went into the side pockets, thru the fabric, and the open rear vent offered no protection to the back of my pant legs. Thereafter, the coat was used for short walks, with an umbrella. After a few more years, I stopped wearing it. As I got older (and a little higher job stature) during the late '80s, I started to notice how "cheap" this coat looked. It barely touched my knees, all "hardware" was plastic, the belt would easily come out of the belt loops, the belt buckle was useless, the cuff straps did not fully wrap the sleeves, and the fabric was a cheap poplin. So, I decided to buy a nice trench coat.
As a young professional, and like many others during that time, I read Malloy's book "Dress for Success" (a paperback copy, still tucked away on my bookshelf). His discussion of trench coats basically said to not buy one that was black, a beige color being preferred.

Thus, begins the saga.

Trench coat search begins (1987/88): Living in northern Virginia, the available choices were from Woodward and Lothrop (aka "Woodies"), Hechts, Raleigh's, Sears, Pennys, Joseph A. Bank, Brooks Brothers, and Burberry's. At that time, Burberry had a store on Connecticut avenue, downtown Washington, D.C. Summary of what I learned from visits to these stores is as follows. Woodies, Hechts, Sears, and Pennys typically had their labels plus Sanyo and London Fog brands, (which were ok, but still had similarities to my old Botany 500 coat). Hecht's Evan-Picone trench coat for women (also looking for one for my wife) was very well made. Joseph A. Bank, if I recall correctly, carried their label and, perhaps, a coat from Hart, Shaffner, and Marx (not sure of this, though). Raleigh's carried a lower grade Burberry (which I bought, but later returned... didn't have the "gun" flap). They all lacked features I was looking for.
Visiting the Burberry's store in DC was a real education. They had the "Made in England" model (clearly printed on the label), which I was told by a sales clerk was the original trench coat model. It was fantastic. The cotton gabardine was extremely tightly woven, and had an olive-tinted sheen to it, which was noticeable at different lighting angles. It also had the full wool "bathrobe" lining, as well as all of the other authentic features associated with the historic trench coat. However, the cost was $1200. The next one down the quality scale was the "Made in Canada" version. This version was priced at approximately $600. Both prices were still too rich for me, though as previously mentioned, I did later buy an on-sale, made in Canada, Raleigh's model. Later, I also bought a Canadian-made trench coat for my wife from the DC Burberry's store.
At Brooks Brothers' old DC flagship store location, they had their brand. It was very well made, and was well thought-out in terms of functionality. The poplin looked nice, and was a 60/40 cotton/polyester blend. Better yet, the price was $299. It sorta looked like it was made by London Fog, but to a much higher specification. Coincidentally, Consumer Reports published a review of trench coats in the September 1987 edition (pages 538-545). The Brooks Brothers coat was 4th on their ranking list. Also, helping in my decision was seeing the famous journalist Marvin Kalb getting into a car near the old CBS building, downtown DC, wearing his Brooks Brothers trench coat. So, this was what I bought and kept. My wife got the Burberry's and I have the Brooks Brothers.
As to the Consumer Reports article, here was their ranking of trench coats:

1. Burberry's Trench 21/101 $675
2. Aquascutum Wavell $575
3. Polo by Ralph Lauren $600
4. Brooks Brothers 0019 $250
5. Misty Harbor Tioga 3500 $215
6. J.C. Penny Woodmere $130
7. Macy's Christopher Hayes Randolph $100
8. Sears Arnie II $105
9. London Fog Douglas $175
10. Botany 500 219 $165
11. London Fog Tempo/Europa Viceroy $215
12. London Towne Rainer 59959 $135
13. Sanyo PRO71-022-58 $265
14. Egon von Furstenberg $180
15. Sasson 5383 2 $185
16. Austin Reed Montclair 2485-53 $260
17. Haband 367 $80
18. Christian Dior Louvre 2228-67 $235
19. Drizzle Carol Cohen 363 $360
20. Hart Schaffner & Marx Spencer $180
21 Gleneagles Charles 2061-56 $175

A couple of years later, I came across an Aquascutum trench coat at Raleigh's going-out-of-business sale at their former flagship store downtown DC. I was curious about its quality and features. The cotton gabardine was very nice and the coat was well made. However, the back yoke appeared to be a "faux" yoke. That is, on the Burberry and Brooks Brothers coats, you could slide your hand under the back yoke up to the neck seam. On the Aquascutum, I could only slide my fingers a couple of inches under the yoke. It lacked the extra rain protection of a full yoke. So, keep that in mind if you're looking for a vintage Aquascutum trench coat.

Epilogue: As the years went on, trench coats faded from style. I gained weight, and didn't wear mine much at all. They also seemed to become a little bit of an "old fogey" coat (which now describes me). Gore-Tex, and other waterproof laminates, came onto the scene, further moving the trench from usage. The USMC still employs the trench, calling it an "All Weather Coat". I recently took a look at one, at the last military surplus store in northern Virginia. It was fairly well made, though lacking features found on the more expensive versions.

After all the energy I expended researching and looking for a trench coat, over thirty years ago, it's ironic how little I've worn it during those years.

The End
 

Gamma68

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@Retired EE, thanks for the post. Fashion trends come and go, but the iconic trench coat will remain stylish in our lifetime and beyond. I say put your sartorial knowledge to good use and wear your coat. If it doesn't fit, find a new one and rock it.

Yes, fewer people wear them than in the past. But the good news is there are many good ones available at thrift stores at bargain prices. That's how I found my vintage 1960s BB jacket. It has all the bells and whistles, including the wool lining.

img_9150-jpg.114555

img_9154-jpg.114557
 

Retired EE

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@Retired EE, thanks for the post. Fashion trends come and go, but the iconic trench coat will remain stylish in our lifetime and beyond. I say put your sartorial knowledge to good use and wear your coat. If it doesn't fit, find a new one and rock it.

Yes, fewer people wear them than in the past. But the good news is there are many good ones available at thrift stores at bargain prices. That's how I found my vintage 1960s BB jacket. It has all the bells and whistles, including the wool lining.

img_9150-jpg.114555

img_9154-jpg.114557



Thank you for your kind remarks. I agree with you that the trench coat is still quite stylish. During this past Christmas season, at our daughter's family get together, her sister-in-law was wearing a tan colored Burberry trench coat given to her from her grandmother (whose in her mid-80s and was also present at the party). She's in her early twenties and it really looked very stylish. I gave her a positive compliment on the coat and overheard her excitedly telling her grandmother about my compliment. I gave her a brief history of Burberry's trench coats, and she appeared to be very happy with her inheritance. My wife's Burberry trench coat is crimson in color. With her gray hair, black leather gloves and black leather purse she looks stylistically spectacular when she wears it when we go to a restaurant or to family events.

Yours looks great on you. It's nearly identical to mine. Mine's somewhat more olive tinted, and has a small button at the bottom of the front which engages a hidden flap on the other side of the coat bottom (securing the bottom-front of the coat from head-on wind). Be careful storing your coat during the off season. I hung mine in the closet without a garment bag and the wool collar and wool lining have several moth (larvae) "nibble" marks. All my wool coats and clothes are now stored in cotton canvas garment bags or in a cedar/camphor wood chest.

I'm working to get the pounds off and hopefully the old coat will fit me again in the near future.
 
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Gamma68

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Thank you for your kind remarks. I agree with you that the trench coat is still quite stylish. During this past Christmas season, at our daughter's family get together, her sister-in-law was wearing a tan colored Burberry trench coat given to her from her grandmother (whose in her mid-80s and was also present at the party). She's in her early twenties and it really looked very stylish. I gave her a positive compliment on the coat and overheard her excitedly telling her grandmother about my compliment. I gave her a brief history of Burberry's trench coats, and she appeared to be very happy with her inheritance. My wife's Burberry trench coat is crimson in color. With her gray hair, black leather gloves and black leather purse she looks stylistically spectacular when she wears it when we go to a restaurant or to family events.

Yours looks great on you. It's nearly identical to mine. Mine's somewhat more olive tinted, and has a small button at the bottom of the front which engages a hidden flap on the other side of the coat bottom (securing the bottom-front of the coat from head-on wind). Be careful storing your coat during the off season. I hung mine in the closet without a garment bag and the wool collar and wool lining have several moth (larvae) "nibble" marks. All my wool coats and clothes are now stored in cotton canvas garment bags or in a cedar/camphor wood chest.

I'm working to get the pounds off and hopefully the old coat will fit me again in the near future.
Thanks for your nice comments. My trench fits great but I could’ve centered the buckle a little better!

Mine also has the button for securing the bottom flap. And you make a good point about storage to keep the moths away. I have cotton garment bags to store my wool items.

I also have a couple balmacaans (close cousins of the trench coat): vintage Brooks Brothers and a lined London Fog. I once had a very nice navy Aquascutum “Aqua 5” but it was a size too small and I sold it. Would love to find another in the same color.

I enjoyed reading your story about the excitement and appreciation your family members have for their trench coats.
 
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Tiki Tom

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Earlier this week, while commuting on the U-Bahn I saw an unusual sight, even for Vienna: Changing trains, I saw a guy (mid-thirties?) wearing a nice tweedy-looking suit with a tie that went with it very well. Over his suit he was wearing both a classic trench coat and a fedora. The trench coat was worn open, in a casual and rakish way. What struck me most was that he looked entirely natural in it and it didn't come across as "costumey" at all. Or hardly at all. He looked very sharp IMHO. For a moment I thought about going over and complementing his look. But that probably would have been weird. Trains came, and he was gone. Still. Very rare these days to see a man daring to go the whole nine-yards and totally succeeding.
 
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The Jackal

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I need to try to find my old All Weather Coat. I know it won't fit anymore, I'm a good bit bigger than I was in my lean and mean days in the Marine Corps. Perhaps I'll just try to track down one in my current size, I think it would be a great addition after all those years of not really needing it.
 

Doctor Damage

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I need to try to find my old All Weather Coat. I know it won't fit anymore, I'm a good bit bigger than I was in my lean and mean days in the Marine Corps. Perhaps I'll just try to track down one in my current size, I think it would be a great addition after all those years of not really needing it.
I had a new-old-stock unworn USMC coat last year, in the discontinued pewter colour, but never wore it since it was too big. I'm a 42L and it was a 42L but it fit 'big' and I pretty much needed a 40L. They're pretty generous. The USMC all weather coats are now black, same as the Army coats; I think the USN does black too, but they have peacoats; the USAF still uses dark blue. There's always a bunch of e-bay for reasonable prices, even for unworn or lightly worn coats, so you should have no probs finding one.
 

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