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Question

Dear Biki

I have always wanted a trench coat but never quite found one that didn’t make me look like a twee French man or a wannabe Central St Martins student. So to spend money or not to spend money, to go traditional with the big lapel over the shoulder or something more daring…

I like to think I have a good eye but this piece of classic heritage has always defeated me, maybe you have to be a man over 6ft for it to really work.  Could you give me any tips on trying to find one with the perfect fit?

Thanks, George

Answer

Dear George

If the legendary Humphrey Bogart could set the screen alight whilst putting his 5ft 8 frame into a trench coat, thus making it ‘the must have’ item for men- so can you.

Courtesy of Artofmanliness.com

I believe any man attempting to make this iconic, traditional apparel his own should take a leaf out of Bogart’s book.  He tended to wear double-breasted trench coats and punctuated his ‘oh so cool’ look by fastening a double knot at the front.  Since your query refers to fit, being aware of the various ways one can tie a belt is very important as tieing a trench coat belt wrongly can make you look heavier and send you into Fee Fi Fo Fum land, making you look indeed (in your own words) like a giant.  Furthermore, not putting a belt at all can make your overall look appear sloppy.

Here is a great article on the various ways one can tie a trench coat belt-

http://www.ehow.com/way_5146974_trench-coat-belt-etiquette.html

From what you have told me in your question, I am assuming you are below 6ft, although this is of importance when knowing what style of trench coat to purchase.  There are some general rules that apply to trench coats no matter how tall a man is, they are as follows-

1. When buying a trench coat, make sure it is large enough so you can wear other pieces beneath it like a heavy knit jumper or suit jacket.

2.  Whilst your trench coat shouldn’t be so small that it makes you look like a wee twee French man, it shouldn’t be so large that people can use it to pitch a tent.

Courtesy of Goldbergauctions.com

There is a great article about how to buy the perfect trench coat for your body type, which you can access here-

http://artofmanliness.com/2010/10/20/man-guide-trench-coat/

Interestingly enough the author states that, ‘There is not a right length for a trench coat, rather a man should choose a length based off his body type.  Tall and large men should consider longer coats that fall below the knee – short coats make them look like giants.  Smaller men should select shorter coats that fit above the knee and are closely tailored.  These smaller coats will be more proportional and not make you look like you’re wading in excess fabric’.

What I think is particularly useful when it comes to your situation is he says, ‘Trench coats can usually be made smaller in the torso and shortened by 5-8 percent (not inches – think 3 inches at most)’.

So with all these tips in mind, my advice would be to find the best fit of trench coat that you can find, and then find a great tailor to have it customised to fit you.

Speaking of customising, if you want to make a stylish investment, it may be worth while thinking of getting your very own trench coat customised.  That way not only are you guaranteed a perfect fit but you can make one that accommodates your social life (e.g. one that can store your phone, wallet etc) and you can add little details that reflect your style preferences.

Finally, to get your creative juices flowing for the trench coat that you will be having customised- the following image shows Burberry’s modified work on the classic trench coat.  By adding studded details around the collar, the coat is given a younger, edgier appeal-

Courtesy of Matthewryanrivera.com

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