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How French Women Look Effortlessly Stylish in a Trench Coat

How French Women Look Effortlessly Stylish in a Trench Coat

french style trench coats

The trench coat (or simply “un trench” in French) is definitely one of the foundational pieces of the French wardrobe. Thanks to its timeless details and neutral color palette, the classic beige trench coat is a French wardrobe staple that will never go out of style. It’s the one item you can wear and hold onto forever! Also, the trench coat is much more than just simple transitional outerwear. Indeed, because of its water-resistant fabrication, it’s a style choice for spring’s rainy days, this coat will see you through almost every situation, in any season!

Being French, I do love this coat style. There is just something so classic and stylish about a trench, that I find myself wearing mine whenever the weather permits. But it’s in spring and autumn that I wear it the most. A trench coat is a perfect chic outerwear piece for transitioning between seasons that goes with just about everything.

And on one of those I-have-nothing-to-wear days, the trench makes everything better. Whether you decide to pair it with jeans and white sneakers, or a summer dress and heels, the trench coat has the ability to make every outfit instantly more elegant and polished. You can put it over just about any ensemble, throw on a great pair of sunglasses and a nice scarf and you are instantly fabulous.

A Brief History of the Trench Coat

The invention of the trench coat is claimed by two British luxury clothing manufacturers, Burberry and Aquascutum, with Aquascutum’s claim dating back to the 1850s. In 1879, Thomas Burberry invented gabardine fabric —the weatherproofed cotton textile the coats are known for— and submitted a design for an Army officer’s raincoat to the United Kingdom War Office in 1901.

According to Vogue France, the coat began to shed its military utilitarianism in the 1940s. Worn in some of the most iconic scenes in film history —Humphrey Bogart in Casablanca, Audrey Hepburn in Breakfast at Tiffany’s, Marlene Dietrich in A Foreign Affair, and Meryl Streep in Kramer vs. Kramer— the trench began to be romanticized by Hollywood.

4 French Styling Tips to Wear a Trench Coat

French women of every age have worn trench coats forever. Here are a few tips on properly wearing this French wardrobe staple with class and flair.

1. Invest in quality

First, I’ll recommend investing in something with longevity, a quality trench coat that will stand the test of time. Pay attention to the buttons, and the seams before purchasing, and try to go for a heavy-duty fabric wherever possible.

If you’re not sure, opt for a heritage trench coat like this Burberry Kensington Cotton-Garbine trench coat, there’s no better item to invest in! This classic beige and black double-breasted belted, and collared style is as timeless as ever and is a staple when it comes to outerwear.

2. Opt for a classic color

For a classic style, opt for beige, camel, khaki, or black basically one of these colorings that make the trench considered a very versatile garment. You can also consider different colors that feel just as timeless such as navy, olive green, dusty red, or pale pink.

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3. Choose the length based on your height

In terms of length, both short and long trench coats are great options. For a classic style, I’ll recommend opting for a standard trench coat length, especially if it’s a first-time investment. The shorter length is more casual and is perfect if you’re petite. If you’re tall, you can opt for a long, oversize trench coat with large shoulder pads.

4. Don’t buckle the belt properly

“Never, ever buckle the belt properly like a good little girl. Tie it in front or behind with the buckle hanging loose.”

Inès De La Fressange in her book Parisian Chic

This is exactly the way French women wear trench coats. Basically, just warp your trench around your body and knot the belt in front or behind, rather than buckle it in a conventional manner. A slight push-up of the sleeve, hands in the pockets and that’s it! Très chic!

8 Iconic Trench Coats for Women to Invest In

5 Ways French Women Style a Trench Coat Casually

1. With Leggings & Pumps

trench coat with leggings
Photo: Launchmetrics Spotlight

2. With Tailored Pants & Boots

trench coat with tailored pants
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3. With Straight-Leg Jeans & Mary Janes

trench coat with jeans
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4. With a Suit & Flat Sandals

trench coat with suit
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5. With a Shirt Dress & Loafers

trench coat with a dress
Photo: Launchmetrics Spotlight

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View Comments (5)
  • I have a very long trench coat purchased many years ago and was thinking it was not quite right as I’m only 5’3”. However I was encouraged to see you mention the longer length, so I’ll dig it out and try it again. Thank you.

    • Bonjour Clair, thank you very much for your comment! Yes, long (and short) trench coats are both very fashionable 🙂 Just tie it in front or behind with the buckle hanging loose. You can pair it with a white t-shirt, high waist jeans, and a pair of white sneakers, it’s the perfect uniform to wear this spring!

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