Ask Belle: Trench Coat Questions

Jan 26, 2015

Dear Belle,

I’m moving to D.C. in March and I want a trench coat to wear to work.  I’m searching for something classic.  Ideally I want something under-$200.  Do you recommend a khaki trench or another color?  Thanks for your help.

Amy

Ah, the trench, a professional staple.  The platinum standard is a Burberry trench.  But there are plenty of stylish trenches in the middle price points.

I own this J.Crew Icon Trench.  It’s not a stellar performer (After a few months, the seam in the back came undone–a casualty of using cheap thread–but it was an easy fix.), but I’m fairly happy with it.  Pick it up at one of J.Crew’s frequent sales, don’t pay full price.

shopping

London Fog Heritage Trench ($133)

For the money, the London Fog Heritage trench is the best thing on the market.  It runs a hair big, but put $30 worth of alterations into it and change the buttons, and you have a trench that looks like it cost double the sticker price.  London Fog also makes a longer trench with a hood; you could have it hemmed shorter if that was your preference.

Need something under-$100?  This $99 Calvin Klein trench is machine washable.

Khaki is the traditional color.  A few years back, I saw a woman on the train wearing a black trench, and I loved the sleek look of it.  London Fog makes a black trench, as does Calvin Klein.

Navy is also an excellent choice.  This Michael Kors trench is a nice mix of professional and casual.  This Jones New York trench comes in a selection of colors including navy or red.

Plus-size?  London Fog has you covered.  This black DKNY trench is another nice option.  Petite?  This DKNY trench comes in stone, black, or navy.

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  1. J says:

    I also personally vouch for the Barbour trench! It’s machine washable, sleek, stylish, and definitely waterproof.

    https://www.orvis.com/p/barbour-reversible-trench-coat/0t8k

  2. E says:

    I have a Calvin Klein trench and I can attest to the durability. Mine has a detachable hood and a lining that can zip out, and so it’s wearable in multiple seasons. Great buy.

  3. Katie says:

    I got a gorgeous spring trench (sort of a lighter weight) in dark navy at the Brooks Brothers Factory Store. They run sales all the time, and while I think they were asking $200 full price, I paid only about $100. Super classic style and ultra flattering.

  4. London Fog is one of the only brands that is actually useful in rain–which will be a consideration for you in DC. I have two of the same trench from LF–one in black, one in red–and I wear them year-round. They usually come with a zip-out lining, so they can truly function year round. Easy to find on sale at Macy’s/similar, or check the LF outlets.

  5. Ana says:

    I’m curious. What would be a better button for the LF Trench? Thanks!

    • Belle says:

      The buttons on inexpensive outerwear are usually cheap plastic. I replaced then buttons on my first trench, from Benetton, with a nicer tortoise button and buckle purchased from eBay. Made the trench look much more expensive.

  6. Lyellian says:

    I snagged my mother’s rarely-worn vintage London Fog trench (khaki, of course) with zip-out liner, and love. it. to. death. (Basically the long trench coat in the LF link Belle provides, just 30+ years old.) It’s held up quite well to DC sleet. So it may be worth checking out thrift stores in your area, eBay, etc. for good condition vintage trenches.

  7. Cat says:

    I got a trench when I moved to DC. and have since moved back to the west. When I wear it, someone inevitably asks me if I worked in DC, apparently it is such a DC uniform (even though it is a classic piece for any area). Always get a chuckle.

  8. KRF says:

    I have a khaki trench from Zara with a zip out lining. It is about 3 years old and holding up great. I think I paid $100 or less? I am petite (about 5 feet tall) and an XS fit perfectly with no alterations required.

  9. Claire says:

    Belle, what button switch out do you recommend? I have that London Fog trench and it never occurred to me to play with the hardware. I’m intrigued!

  10. Can I suggest giving Burberry a miss? I have one (granted white and not basic) but everything about it didn’t hold up well. But because of living in London and then D.C. I went super splurge on another trench. If it’s going to be the thing you buy for the year I can’t recommend this enough:

    https://www.susyharper.co.uk/shop/4580170263/gg-mac-(sand-khaki)/8879860

    I have an 8 year old version that still looks amazing and sophisticated.

  11. Sue says:

    Like Claire, I am also curious about the button switch out! I’d love to update mine…

  12. Molly says:

    I recommend the trench coat from Zara, around $150 — I was skeptical and kept the receipt for a while, but it’s ended up being fabulous. Really well made and looks very crisp – no wrinkling of the fabric with wear.

    Mine is a more khaki-colored version of this style; they may have both colors in stores – https://www.zara.com/us/en/collection-ss15/woman/outerwear/long-cotton-trenchcoat-c367501p2367846.html

  13. Sharon says:

    I actually have the London Fog trench (but I believe it’s an even cheaper version? It was $100 when I got it) and it’s been 5 years–not a single loose thread or button or anything. And it’s got removable lining! What more could you ask for?

  14. Jennifer D says:

    One of my favorite Mad Men quotes from Season 3, Episode 1 where Don and Sal meet with London Fog . . . “there will be fat years and there will be lean years, but it is going to rain.”

  15. Alison says:

    Wow, what an amazing resource this post is! I’ve had the Calvin Klein trench on my wish list for a while, but now I have a few more options to consider. Wouldn’t have thought of Zara, but I’m remembering a friend scored the cutest short trench on the clearance rack years ago and I’m jealous every time I see her wear it. The Suzy Harper coat is amazing, I almost want to move to a rainier climate to justify the splurge!

  16. I’m probably a huge effin’ snob but I saved and really wanted ONE trench without lusting after any others and I ended up buying a Burberry one on sale. LOVE. IT.

    I wear it to death in the spring and autumn and am now eying a red or navy one…

  17. […] Lusting after a Burberry trench coat but can’t afford one? Check out Belle’s list. […]

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