Friday, May 15, 2015

Feature Friday: Trench coat

Today's "Feature Friday" will talk about the history of the trench coat, which became very popular after World War I. It was originally developed for the British military.

The material from which trench coats are made, gabardine, dates back to the 1870's when designer Thomas Burberry (1835–1926) developed a unique wool material that was chemically processed to repel rain.

Jackets made of the fabric were first used in the Boer War fought in South Africa between the British and Dutch settlers in 1899.

This new material was untearable, virtually crease-proof, and resistant to the elements, while remaining porous and well-ventilated enough to be comfortable and cool for the wearer.

The classic World War I-era trench coat was double-breasted with four buttons, reinforced shoulder or gun flaps, straps at its sleeves, a buckled all-around belt (with distinctive brass "D" rings designed to hold one's water bottle, hand grenades, or sword), slotted pockets, and an adaptable collar. It was typically lined with wool. 

While these features have altered somewhat over the years, the trench coat has never gone out of fashion, remaining a popular all-purpose coat with both men and women. 

Among its wearers are a number of famous political leaders, actors, and literary figures, including politicians Winston Churchill (1874–1965) and Ronald Reagan (1911–), actors Humphrey Bogart (1899–1957) and Katharine Hepburn (1907–2003), writer George Bernard Shaw (1856–1950), and General Norman Schwarzkopf (1934–). Fictional characters who have become identified with the trench coat include Holly Golightly, the heroine of the novel and film Breakfast at Tiffany's (1961), and Peter Sellers' bumbling Inspector Clouseau from the Pink Panther comedy film series (1964–82).

Do you own a trench coat?


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