What does Inspector Clouseau, Michael Caine as Harry Palmer in The Iprcress File, Morgan Freeman in Se7en and Rorshach in The Watchmen all have in common? The trench coat. Long worn by movie spies, detectives and cool guys, trench coats for men are not just a movie prop, but a wardrobe staple. While designers will play with the style, changing colors, adding or taking away epaulets or pockets, trench coats for men are always a fashion piece worth owning.
Why Wear a Trench Coat?
Classic trench coats for men, made in cotton, poplin, or lightweight wool gabardine, are the perfect topper for transitional weather. They can be worn literally anywhere. Yes, it can be worn over a tux and over a long-sleeve tee and jeans. They’re that versatile. The classic silhouette: double-breasted, raglan sleeve, belted, slash pockets you could store a small car in, epaulets, wide-collared in oyster, black or khaki have never gone out of style. They’re such an iconic design that British historian Nicholas Foulkes wrote an entire book on them, and academic journals like the Journal of Design History have published scholarly articles on Burberry and the rise of the trench coat.
Trench coats are constructed to withstand all sorts of weather, which makes them incredibly durable. There are a few menswear items that are considered to be an investment piece. Much like a well-cut blazer (they can be worn with everything), the perfect flat cap, or watch, spending a lot on a higher-end item is practicing fiscal acuity. Because once you buy one of these items, you’re set for life. But — and this is a big but — don’t feel that you must buy an expensive trench coat, especially if you’re only going to wear it a few times a year. There are a ton (see our shopping guide) of great looking trench coats for men in all prices ranges out there.
What’s the History of the Trench Coat?
The story of the trench coat lies between two iconic British brands: Aquascutum and Burberry. Originally developed as an alternative officer’s coat for the British army during WWI, it became the standard officer’s coat during WWII. The design was so popular that other armies copied it. As with many military fashions, it evolved into a classic fashion item for civilians. When you think of Rick (Humphrey Bogart) in Casablanca, you imagine him wearing a trench coat. When you think of Rusty Ryan (Brad Pitt) in Ocean’s 12, you think of his many trench coats.
What Are the Types of Trench Coats?
Trench coats for men come in three styles: double-breasted, single-breasted and the car coat/mac. There are trench coats with heavy woolen zip-out linings, and lighter weight ones too. When one talks about the “classic trench coat” the one that immediately springs to mind is the belted double-breasted trench with big pockets. As mentioned earlier, some models have big raglan sleeves — they’re made that way to accommodate blazers or a heavy coat, but many models have a straight sleeve.
Next in popularity in the trench coats for men world are the single-breasted model. A lot of guys don’t like a double-breasted coat because of all that fabric, or the way a double-breasted coat or jacket hangs when not buttoned, so this is a great option.
The car coat or mac, is actually derived from the carriage coat, but because of its bad weather durability, it’s generally added to the trench coat category. Car coats or macs (they may have different names, but they’re the same thing) are made from the same fabric as a trench coat but have a more streamlined silhouette. Burberry always places car coats under their trench coat category, and they’re pretty much the expert when it comes to trenches, so we’re doing that too.
Trench coats for men come in three lengths: mid-thigh, knee-length and mid-calf. Looking for a coat that’s weekend and work worthy then opt for the less formal the mid-thigh or knee-length.
Now that you know more than you’ll ever need to know about trench coats for men — unless you end up on a quiz show and this trivia could possibly help you win major bucks, let’s get to the fun stuff: the clothes! Scroll through to find the best trench coat for men that’ll keep you dry and in style for years and years.
1. Burberry Mid-length Chelsea Heritage Trench Coat
When working on a roundup of trench coats for men, you can’t not include Burberry. They’re the ones who supplied trench coats to the British military, and every trench owes their style to them. As of 2020, the brand has well over 40 different types of trench coats for sale. The Chelsea Heritage Trench runs about mid-thigh, comes in three classic shades (honey, black and mid-grey), has rounded shoulders, leather-covered buckles, and is lined (and trimmed) in their classic Nova check print.
2. H&M Single-Breasted Trench Coat
Done in deep khaki green, H&M’s streamlined trench coat is a very fashionable alternative to Burberry’s. The single-breasted lined coat has epaulets, an attached yoke at back like a classic trench coat, and deep front pockets to store lots of things.
3. Lacoste Long Belted Cotton Trench Coat
You may think that Lacoste just makes polo shirts and tennis wear, but the company creates many outerwear styles. Their trench coat has leather-trimmed buckles (nice touch), is lined in jersey for extra warmth. There are two inner as well as outer pockets.
4. BooHooMan Classic Oversized Trench Coat
BEST MODERN TRENCH
If you like the idea of a trench coat but think they’re a tad too fussy looking for your style, you might prefer BooHooMan’s take on it. Clean lines with an oversized silhouette, this trench coat can be worn belted or loose. Either way, this silvery oyster coat looks cool.
5. ASOS DESIGN Oversized Trench Coat
BEST FASHION FORWARD
Looking like it just walked off the runway, ASOS DESIGN’s black cotton trench coat has a futuristic feel. It has functional flap pockets, a back vent and can easily accommodate a heavy sweater, hoodie, or blazer.
6. Club Monaco New Mac Coat
BEST MINIMALIST DESIGN
Done in silvery sage, the clean lines of this mac trench coat has black contrast buttons for a pop of color. Lined in a windowpane plaid, this very modern trench coat will take you from season to season.
7. Ka Wa Key Devore Two Layer Trench Coat
BEST FOR STANDING OUT IN A CROWD
Based in London, Ka Wa Key Chow’s graduate collection at the Royal College of Art in London was nominated as a finalist for the H&M Design Award. He worked for J.W. Anderson’s knitwear department before starting his own menswear collection. The designer enjoys creating textiles as much as he creates designs. His eye-catching trench coat is a fever dream of colors and textures. Made with a sustainable cotton blend, the trench has an exaggerated back yoke, and can be worn belted or not.
8. Top Man Check Short Mac
BEST COMBO OF CLASSIC AND TRENDS
There’s something about a mac that gives off a European sensibility. Look at it, and you can almost immediately envision wearing it while walking through the woods wearing hunter boots, a heavy sweater and a flat cap. You know, like one of the characters in Guy Ritchie’s The Gentlemen. Or, wearing one on the way from a Tube stop to an office in London. Thing is, they’re a very versatile type of trench coat due to its minimal styling. Like the trench coat, a mac from 20 years ago looks just as fresh as one from this year. Top Man channels the plaid check trend for fall in this coat. It has a pointed collar, two spacious front pockets and buttons up the front.
9. London Fog Iconic Trench Coat
BEST AMERICAN HERITAGE BRAND
To many Americans, London Fog makes the iconic trench coat. The company was born in 1923, and there’s a big market for its vintage menswear coats. Relaunched in 2007, the brand relied heavily on celebrity advertising to make their brand memorable again to the public. This version of the trench coat is long-ish, has a detachable wool-blend collar and liner. It comes in Covert ( green/brown shade), black and British Khaki.
10. Marcus Formal Windbreaker Trench Coat
BEST EASY CARE
Cut a tad longer than a blazer, this cotton trench coat (or jacket) is a nice alternative to the classic bomber jacket. Lined in a tattersall check, this back-belted trench can be tossed in the wash.
11. Canada Goose Crew Trench
BEST COLD WEATHER OPTION
Canada Goose quickly developed a sterling reputation for crafting coats that defied brutal cold weather. Their trench coat is cold rated to 23 degrees, which means you’ll have a lightweight coat that will keep you warm when others are freezing. Their trench is styled like a mac. They use their Dura-Force fabric, which will keep you feeling comfortable even when arctic winds are blowing down the street. It has a removable hood and drawcord hem. And it comes in eight shades.
12. Burberry Pimlico Heritage Car Coat
It’s fitting to close out a trench coat for men roundup with another coat from Burberry. While we’re not going to feature all of their 40-odd trenches, their Pimlico is at once a modern, yet classic piece of outerwear. It comes in five colors; it’s made in their own gabardine blend and is lined in their classic check pattern. The refined straight cut is roomy enough to layer over sweaters or suit jackets. It has large pockets that can be buttoned both on the outside as well as the inside of the coat.