11 Mar 2015

Packing For Paris: The Art Of The Trench

Charlotte Gainsbourg, Charlotte Rampling, Peter Linbergh, Vogue 2004, Packing For Paris, The Trench, Vicki Archer


Packing for Paris must include the trench coat.


It is light, it is practical and it works from day through until the evening. The trench coat looks superb whether it is worn over jeans and a sweater or with a little black dress. It equally relates with sneakers or stilettos, bikers or sandals. The trench coat is an all round really great friend and one of the pieces of clothing that I consider to be a top ten wardrobe essential.



Charlotte Gainsbourg, Charlotte Rampling, Peter Linbergh, Vogue 2004, Packing For Paris, The Trench, Vicki Archer


French women of every age have worn the trench coat forever; they wear it with such style and flair. I don’t believe it is magic just a little know how. To wrap it around the body and knot the belt rather than buckle it in the conventional manner, is the way the trench looks best. A slight push up of the sleeve, hands in the pockets and that’s that.


On one of those I-have-nothing-to-wear days the trench makes everything better. When in doubt wrap up in the trench.



Packing for Paris means that the trench coat has to be number one. Weather friendly and stylish aren’t generally fashion concepts that go together; the trench coat is the exception. The biggest decision to make is whether to wear a black trench or the classic neutral.


I am a fan of both colours and tend to choose the lighter option for the warmer months. Even in the summer I pack my trench as European warmth can be decidedly cool at times, not to mention the drizzly days.




Which trench coat to invest in?


I believe the trench coat, like the leather biker jacket, is one of those serious and expensive fashion investments that pays for itself over time. Burberry, long established and masters of the trench coat make the most exquisite models. The right amount of tautness in the fabric, pockets where they should be and a slimline fit that covers a multitude and flatters where it should.


Which length to wear?


If it is a first time trench investment I would purchase the long version. I am now tempted by the shorter length in stone; a little more casual and relaxed but still offering all the advantages. I could see it worn with a pair of cropped pants and a striped tee for the warmer months.


Selecting my favourite Burberry pieces for Nordstrom was easy, I could not look past their trenchcoats. If I could choose one item from Burberry’s collection, I would always choose the trench.



Is the trench coat one of your top ten wardrobe essentials? xv


Packing For Paris: The Art Of The Trench



kensington long trench in honey  //  kensington double breasted trench in stone  //  sandringham long slim trench coat in black


 kensington double breasted trench in black



More About The Trench

In The Trenches  //  New York: Blue, Beautiful And Burberry  //  Showpieces, Burberry



images peter lindbergh for vogue 2004 

 

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34 Comments

Marsha @ Splenderosa

Of course, you have the Burberry Prorsum trench; those pieces last 1 million years, and like all great apparel, are so worth the cost when you amoritize it out over the years. I have never had a trench coat myself, but a beautiful black one was the 1st gift I gave my husband; he looked so handsome.
Beautiful examples, Vicki !

Reply
Catherine Lynn

Hi Vicki, I have the neutral colour in my trench but alas I don’t seem to wear it all that much here in sunny Queensland in Australia! With no autumn and spring to dress for, as we miss those seasons altogether due to the heat I go straight into my wool coats for winter hence my trench misses out. But will try to find more ways to wear this lovely piece in my wardrobe! Weather permitting!

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Pamela

Have a black trench I bought in Paris years ago and used to wear outdoors over suits when attending conferences in Europe. Was very convenient – used to liven it up with a bright scarf – fuchsia or red or emerald etc, depending on the suit underneath. Always bought at least one fabulous colourful silk scarf each time – Hermes, Versace, Valentino, Gucci etc.
Nowadays don’t wear my trenches so much. When travelling take a light weight nylon leopard rain coat and also a long line mohair/wool jacket/cardy (designed and made by an artist – have a collection) in case the weather is cool. Warm and comfortable and arty – can wear on the plane and uncrushable. Very different from the classic Paris uniform – but you’d be surprised how many French women stop me to ask where they can get one like it. Sadly the artist has gone back to her original metier – painting – but have around seven of her works in a range of colours and take a different one almost every time, depending on my colour themes for the trip. This trip will be mostly pinks, reds, (maybe a little hit of orange), black, white, grey and an extra theme of navy and denim. Necessary as we usually travel between 2-3 months, including attending formal dinners and coming up even a garden party, so wouldn’t want to survive on a capsule wardrobe in black. Best wishes, Pamela

Reply
Anita Rivera

You know what….I am going to wear mine TODAY! I have not yet prepared to go off to work, so now, my “what shall I wear today” dilemma is solved. Our weather is GORGEOUS now, but not warm enough for me to go sleeveless or light. A trench is perfect!

Happy day Vicki Anita

Reply
Vicki

Great idea Anita… enjoy it… I love the whole simplicity of throwing on a trench coat and feeing well dressed.. :)

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anita rivera

Hello vicki! I am wearing my black trench with boyfriend jeans black boots and pink earrings! Thanks to you!

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jeanne henriques

Yes, to the trench coat Vicki…and Burberry, first and foremost. And the only place to buy a Burberry is London…which requires a trip. As for Paris, any room in your luggage for me? Spring in Paris..was it really three years ago?. Safe travels..hope you have the perfect weather for every colour and style of tench coat. ;). xx

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Vicki

Come back and come with me, Jeanne… That was such a fun trip… Ready any time you are.. :)

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Beth Anderson

The only problem with “long” is that if you are short you look like you are wearing a sack. Unless by long you merely mean to the knee, instead of the one that simply butt-skims. The ones that come down mid calf are tough to wear…

Reply
Vicki

“Long” means to the knee in this case… as pictured, I agree that any longer is unflattering… :)

Reply
Linda Hanselman

I was just looking at Burberry Trench coats yesterday to take with me on our LoireValley trip in September/October this year. I bought a short version but not Burberry (um yeah $1800 was too steep). Found a cute H&M for $150. I can wear it on the plane and won’t be paranoid about losing it. That said I’d love, LOVE a Burberry, but am waiting to see what this H&M one will look like. If it’s not lined and below standard I mayyyy have to reconsider the Burberry :)

Reply
lisa thomson-the great escape

I used to have a black trench. I don’t know why I don’t have it anymore. It was always a little big on me. However, I am pining for a neutral trench in the longer length. It will be on my Spring to buy list. Burberry would be wonderful. It’s all about the fit. If it’s cheap, I’m afraid it isn’t as flattering and doesn’t come off with the same french chic.Thanks, Vicki! I’m going to check out the Nordstrom link :)

Reply
Karena

Vicki my trench is really outdated and I do love the black shorter look you show above!
xoxo
Karena
The Arts by Karena

Reply
Teddee Grace

The old “Dress for Success” books said anything but tan trench coats looked “low class” because dark colors projected the idea that you couldn’t afford to have your coat cleaned regularly!

Reply
Robin

“The old “Dress for Success” books said anything but tan trench coats looked “low class” because dark colors projected the idea that you couldn’t afford to have your coat cleaned regularly!”

Funny I was just thinking about this very passage the other day. I do also remember reading that. But style has grown to accept the black and other non-tan colors. I don’t think this rule applies anymore. The Original DFS was written in 1975 and the “new” revised edition was written in 1988, almost 30 years ago. While a lot of fashion rules are written in stone, I think this one has become outdated.

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Caroline Frommhold

Hi, Vicki – Thank you for this! One question about the black trench – does it pick up every fleck of something not black? I have 3 cats, so getting out the door fur-free is already an issue. Wondering if a trench attracts lint, or is the material something not as ‘sticky’ and would be okay in black?

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Vicki

No Caroline, mine doesn’t… there is something about the surface of the fabric that doesn’t attract the lint… not much that I have noticed..
I wear mine so much and truthfully I don’t brush it or clean it that often…

Reply
Sallie

OK! It’s obviously time to bring my 1980’s Burberry maxi trench out of the closet! What goes around, comes back around . . . and I am so happy that I still have it and at that length. Plus the button-in liner. The hat is a little “dippy”, but I can flip the front up in the event of a torrential downpour. Here I am in Paris, and I can’t wait to get home and race to that closet! The Curse of Fashion. It envelops and sidetracks you, every time . . .

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Cathy Wong

I have a nice trench coat from Banana Republic-nice colour, attention to details,fabric…..I love to wear it with an Hermes scarf. My goal is to get a Burberry. May have to go with single breasted-I’m shorter waisted and generally double breasted isn’t as flattering. Will see….as we all agree-it’s all in the right fit!

Reply
Deb

I love trench coats. I bought my first trench coat in London back in the late 70’s and wore it with pride back in Australia even though it hadn’t really taken off in Australia. It was the traditional version, longer length in neutral. Over the years I missed my trench and wanted to replace it so I was overjoyed when trench coats became popular here. I now have a shorter one in black, longer in black and a longer in neutral.
I actually look forward to cooler and colder weather so I can wear them.
Debbie

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Pauline Pearson

I have a French navy one by Sportscraft so so love it. <3
So so love your post. <3

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Mel Bannon

I have a Burberry long trench, the pack light version, which is fabulous for here in sunny Queenland and a beautiful one I got from Reiss..
Love them all, and would like a black Burberry one to round out the collection.
They are timeless!

Reply
Julie Wentz

Dear Vicki
I often wonder what do do with the belt on my trench. I understand when the coat is closed. When it is open Im afraid it will fall out if I dont somehow tie it in the back. Not so sure that looks right. What is your advise?
Kind Regards

Reply
Vicki

Julie, I find that when I leave my belt undone I make sure it’s secure in the side loops… and all is ok. I have always found tying it up at the back makes the shape of the coat wrong for me.
You can all ways pop a small saferty pin under the belt loop to secure them if you are worried… :)

Reply
marie

Oh how funny! I’ve just found my old “London Fog” long version trench packed away! I was wondering if its too outdated? I would love a Burberry!

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Laurie McKay

I also have a London Fog trench that is crimson. It is a sharp-looking coat. I wear it frequently.

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Joann

Heading to Paris in August. What do you pack to fit in and not stand out like a tourist?

Reply
Vicki

Start with the trench Joann… and I will keep writing more in this series… :)

Reply
Joann

Thanks. Looking forward to reading more! I have a Burberry tan trench that I bought years ago at a sample sale in NYC. I’ll dust it off!

Reply
Michelle

I have an old, oversized Aquascutum trench that looks like a boyfriend trench. It’s still in great condition. I also have a just above the knee, neutral, double breasted Banana Republic that I wear a lot. I was thinking of buying a black trench when I remembered that I had a fitted, vintage Halston for Misty Harbor black trench lurking in the back of my closet. It’s in a faille cloth fabric and has a classic and feminine silhouette that I love. I haven’t worn it much in recent years because it’s mid calf length. Vicki’s post has inspired me to take it to my seamstress next week to have it shortened!

Reply
Candice

I can’t believe you didn’t mention the models !! I adore Charlotte Rampling !
I have my Burberry coat that is black quilted with plaid lining and a scarf that I inherited from my sweet husband .. who like all French and English men, wore a scarf with such flair ..

Reply

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