Rain or Fine: Spring Trench Coats

April 8, 2010

TRENCH COATS FIRST strutted onto the clothing stage as soldiers’ garb in World War I, with both Burberry and rival Aquascutum claiming they’d invented the belted, buttoned outerwear. But the style’s swagger and practicality meant it was soon appropriated by film noir heroines (and villains), businessmen and, by the 1980s, a Goth or two.

Blame the fact that, unlike puffer coats or batwing sweaters, the trench genuinely ranks as a clothing classic. “They’re like jeans — you can dress them up or dress them down,” says Jackie Flanagan, owner of Nana boutique (1528 U St. NW; 202-667-6955). “One can go over a cocktail frock or over something really casual.”

This season, updated spins on the style stalwart range from Brit-bright stripes to cropped models that can double as blazers for work. Grab any of them, and you’ll bring retro appeal to whatever you’re wearing, no matter the weather. “Trench coats make you feel like Ingrid Bergman from that final scene in ‘Casablanca,’” Flanagan says. “They have moodiness, romance and history.”

1) Rain Check
A perky plaid trim and matching buttons mimic (OK, rip off) Burberry for just a fraction of the price on Forever 21′s green apple-hued, double-breasted beauty. ($40)

2) Just Your Stripe
It takes a bold (and probably lanky) girl to pull off Boden’s cheeky striped macintosh with its candy-colored stripes and Oreo-sized buttons. Still, it’s sweet paired with simple jeans and a tee. ($138)

3) Golden Rage
Trenches aren’t just for monsoons; some also storm evenings out, as in Yoana Baraschi‘s taffeta number, which would shine over a flowy frock. ($425, Betsy Fisher, 1224 Connecticut Ave. NW; 202-785-1975)

4) A Plaid Story
If you rock a neutral wardrobe (grays, blacks, whites), this plaid cotton trench from Laundry by Shelli Segal adds a little dash sans too much flash. ($260, Bloomingdale’s, Tysons Corner Center; 703-556-4600)

5) Duster Bowl
Rendered in light linen and given a sleek, asymmetrical closure, a classic khaki trench gets a modern, steampunky update. ($375, Barney’s Co-op, 3040 M St. NW; 202-350-5832)

6) Short Cut
Swingy, short and cut in a tropic-cool melon color, Martin + Osa‘s mini-trench serves as a light jacket on cool nights — or a bright topper over a pencil skirt for work. ($98, Martin + Osa, Tysons Corner Center; 703-821-1062)

7) See Worthy
One part peacoat, two parts trench, Dear Creatures‘ natty, nautical topper works equally well over a floral mini-dress or slouchy pants and a sleek top. ($209, Nana, 1528 U St. NW; 202-667-6955)

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Betsy Lowther | April 8, 2010