Trench coat

Trench coat

A trench coat or trenchcoat is a raincoat made of waterproof heavy-duty cotton drill or poplin, wool gabardine, or in some cases leather: it generally has a removable insulated lining; and it is usually knee-length or longer.


The trench coat was developed as an alternative to the heavy serge greatcoats worn by British and French soldiers in the First World War. The trench coat was created by Thomas Burberry, the inventor of gabardine fabric, who submitted a design for an army officer's raincoat to the United Kingdom War Office in 1901.

The trench coat became an optional item of dress in the British Army, and was obtained by private purchase by officers and Warrant Officers Class I who were under no obligation to own them. No other ranks were permitted to wear them. Another optional item was the British Warm, a wool coat similar to the greatcoat that was shorter in length, also worn by British officers and Warrant Officers Class I as an optional piece.

During the First World War, the design of the trenchcoat was modified to include shoulder straps and D-rings. The shoulder straps were for the attachment of epaulettes or other rank insignia; the D-ring for the attachment of hand grenades or other equipment to the belt. This latter pattern was dubbed "trench coat" by the soldiers in the front line. Many veterans returning to civilian life kept the coats that became fashionable for both men and women.

During the Second World War, officers of the United Kingdom continued to use the trench coat on the battlefield in inclement weather. Other nations also developed trench coat style jackets, notably the United States and Soviet Union, though in the field shorter "field jackets" became more popular, including garments such as the Denison smock used by British commandos, paratroopers, and snipers and the M1941/M1943 field jackets used by the US Army. These garments were shorter and more practical than the trench coat, and as such they allowed the wearer to be more mobile.

A typical trench coat by this period was a ten-buttoned, double-breasted long coat made with tan, khaki, beige, or black fabric. Trench coats often have cuff straps on the raglan sleeves, shoulder straps and a belt. The trench coat was typically worn as a windbreaker or as a rain jacket, and not for protection from the cold in winter or snowy conditions.


Trench coats have remained fashionable in the decades following World War Two. Their original role as part of an army officers' uniform lent the trench coat a businesslike respectability, whilst fictional heroes as diverse as Dick Tracy, Mike Hammer,The Phantom, Humphrey Bogart's Rick Blaine from "Casablanca" and Peter Sellers' Inspector Clouseau kept the coat in the public eye. In the 1960s, some mods wore trenchcoats as fashionable overcoats, as an alternative to the fishtail parka or crombie.

The Heavy metal and Goth fashion trend of black oilcloth dusters are usually referred to as trench coats. [cite web|url=|title=Heavy Metal Fashion Returns|publisher=METALEATER|date=2006-03-24|accessdate=2008-08-01] Early media reports of the Columbine High School massacre initially associated the perpetrators with members of the "Trenchcoat Mafia", a group of outcasts who wore conspicuous black Australian oilcloth dusters. In the copycat W. R. Myers High School shooting days later, the shooter wore a trench coat. In the wake of these incidents, several schools forbade students to wear trench coats, on the grounds that the long coats could be used to conceal weapons.

Trench coats are often associated with stereotypical flashers and exhibitionists, who wear the coat in public until they "streak" naked through a public area or commit an act of exhibition.

In fiction

Comics and graphic novels

Trench coats are used in a number of comics, animated series, and graphic novels. Their use could be traced back to the Golden Age of Comics during which time several heroes and villains donned trench coats, often drawing on stereotype to establish aspects of their personality. The designs and characterizations of many of these persona were heavily influenced by earlier pulp detective archetypes. Some popular examples include Rorschach (comics), Doctor Occult, Green Hornet, the Sandman, and the Crimson Avenger, among others. John Constantine, the main protagonist of the "Hellblazer" series, wears a trench coat as an integral part of his image and refers to himself as a member of the Trenchcoat Brigade. Marvel Comics thief and supersoldier Fantomex wore a white trench coat as part of his costume. During Grant Morrison's run on the X-Men comics, titled New X-Men, the characters Jean Grey and Emma Frost wore leather trench coats. Gambit from the X-men usually wears a brown trench coat over his armor. Hellboy is often seen in his dirty, tattered brown trench coat, with the right sleeved rolled up past his Right Hand Of Doom

Many of the characters in Frank Miller's Sin City wear trench coats. Comic book villain The Joker occasionally wears a gray or purple trench coat, often accompanied by a matching wide-brimmed zoot hat. Tommy Monaghan, the titular star of the comic book Hitman, regularly wears a dark green trench coat. The Phantom (aka Mr Walker) wears a signature trench coat and a fedora when walking in town as "an ordinary man". The Punisher AKA Frank Castle also wears a trench coat to conceal his skull t-shirt.

The Crimson Avenger & The Question in Justice League Unlimited.

In Garry Trudeau's comic strip Doonesbury, television news reporters are frequently depicted wearing trench coats. The military details, like the D-rings and the collar strap, are carefully drawn, indeed exaggerated.

In the manga Trigun, Vash the Stampede wears a custom-made red trench coat. One of the villains of the series, Legato Bluesummers, wears a white trench coat before he is rendered immobile.

Trench coats are also common wear among various Yu-Gi-Oh! and Yu-Gi-Oh! GX characters, including Seto Kaiba, Ryo Bakura, Zane Truesdale and Chazz Princeton. Those that wear them are usually rivals to their series' respective heroes.

The military uniform of the State Alchemist in "Full Metal Alchemist" are blue trench coats.

Trench coats are part of the wardrobe of several of the major characters in "Ghost in the Shell".

Fictional detective Columbo habitually wore a single-breasted raincoat on television and in films.

The brutal anti-hero Rorschach of Watchmen fame is usually seen donning a trench coat and fedora.

The vampire Alucard from Hellsing usually wear a red trench coat.

The bounty hunter Spike Spiegel from Cowboy Bebop wears a trench coat twice in episodes 5 and 26 to hide extra weapons and grenades.

cience fiction

The Replicant Roy Batty in "Blade Runner" wore a black leather trench coat, while Deckard wore an original Burberry trench coat.

A Duster Style leather trench coat was used as one of the trademarks of vampire Spike in "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" and "Angel". Likewise, the vampire Angel, also a Buffyverse character, often wore trench coats, especially during the second season of "Buffy the Vampire Slayer", when he reverted to his evil self, Angelus.

Kyle Reese wears a trench coat in Terminator 1.

In the 2002 sci-fi series "Firefly", the rebellious Independent Faction of the Unification War became known as Browncoats for wearing brown trench coats in combat (as opposed to the sophisticated battle suits of the Alliance).

In the TV series "The X-Files", both Fox Mulder and Dana Scully are known for wearing trench coats frequently.

On the NBC science fiction series "Heroes", Peter Petrelli wore a trench coat throughout most of the first season, as did the villain Sylar. In their first encounter, Peter was wearing a white trench coat, while Sylar's was black, in the traditional good and evil motif.

In the BBC television series "Doctor Who", the Tenth Doctor played by David Tennant wears a light brown trenchcoat throughout the series; he claims in the episode "Gridlock" that he received the coat from Janis Joplin. The recurring character of Jack Harkness played by John Barrowman wears a Royal Air Force-style greatcoat (similar in pattern to a trenchcoat, but designed for warmth over waterproofing) for most of his appearances on "Doctor Who" and its spinoff series "Torchwood".


The trench coat was a standard feature of the hardboiled detective in countless films noirs.

Unusually, Van Heflin's private eye in "Grand Central Murder" (1942) wore a trench coat made of leather, a garment almost always denoting a villain.

Eric Draven, portrayed by Brandon Lee, wore a trench coat as part of his wardrobe in the film "The Crow". Kevin Smith's character creation Silent Bob always wears a green trench coat. Lemony Snicket, fictitious author of the book series "A Series of Unfortunate Events", is often shown in photographs wearing a brown trench coat. Carmen Sandiego wears a red trench coat and a red fedora as her main costume.

Many characters in The Matrix film series wear leather trench coats, which have become largely associated with the series.

The Immortals of the Highlander series often wear trenchcoats to conceal their weapons.

The L.A. Police officer Alonzo Harris from Training day wear a black leather Trench coat which hides two pistols.

ee also

* Coat


* [ Anatomy of a Classic: The Trench "on Vogue"]


* Foulkes, Nick "The Trench Book" 2007 Assouline

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  • trench-coat — [ trɛnʃkot ] n. m. • v. 1920; mot angl. « manteau (coat) de tranchée (trench) » ♦ Vieilli Imperméable à ceinture. « Des hommes en trench coats entraient tête nue » (Chardonne). Des trench coats. ⇒TRENCH( )COAT, (TRENCH COAT, TRENCH COAT), subst.… …   Encyclopédie Universelle

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  • trench coat — trench coats also trenchcoat N COUNT A trench coat is a type of raincoat with pockets and a belt. Trench coats are often similar in design to military coats …   English dictionary

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  • trench coat — n a long ↑raincoat with a belt …   Dictionary of contemporary English

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