Work Outfit: A Cool Trench

Mar 19, 2024

When I was 24, I had my first real job in D.C. and a few hundred extra dollars burning a hole in my pocket. I came out of the Chinatown metro to find that the Benetton (RIP) was having a spring sale. I strolled out of the store with a black wrap dress, a khaki trench coat, a pair of knee high boots, and a pencil skirt. Perhaps, looking back, it was the day Capitol Hill Style was born.

Since that day, I have loved wearing trench coats.  They make any outfit look dressier and more chic.  This inspiration photo takes a simple look and transforms it with a trench.  Here’s how to recreate it.

The Trench // This sage green (pale olive?) Everlane trench is the perfect topper for spring.  A little more interesting than a khaki trench, but with all the versatility.  The rolled sleeve is also a nice choice.  It really relaxes and finishes the look.  

Everlane also has a true olive coat in a longer length.  For something more modern, Nordstrom has a short trench (that wears more like a jacket) from Melloday in the same hue.  For a blazer that makes this look office ready, Zara has a soft olive look that I love.

Jeans // If you need a summer jean, look for something with a raw hem.  They’re a great alternative to distressed denim if that’s not your look.  This pair from Madewell have a wide leg style and this pair from Gap have a kick flare.  Both are well priced, and subject to the frequent sales that happen at these retailers.  

The Sweater // There is nowhere else that I would buy a cotton crewneck sweater besides J.Crew.  A wardrobe staple for under-$40.  I machine wash these and lay flat to dry, hanging dry stretches them out at the shoulders.

The Shoes // The photo shows an ankle strap flat.  The more on trend style would be a ballet flat.  I own this one from Madewell, I probably couldn’t walk miles in it, but for just short distances it’s nice.  If you need more support than that, Vionic makes a similar style.

The Bag // Amazon has this On/Eleven bag listed as real leather for $20.  I am a little skeptical (I’m sure you can feel the eye brow raise through the screen), but I ordered one to try it.  The bucket shape is great.  The details are smashing.  And I really hope this bag is what it purports to buy.

Looking for the tortoise Lucite style from the photo?  This Amazon bag is close, but Etsy might be the place to look.

The Accessories // I chose these crazy good Kendra Scott hoops with yellow metal and white Howlite accents.  Missoma always has a cool gold hoop.  I like these beaded ones and these square ones.

And, as always, I added my favorite Gucci lip color, because a black-and-white outfit needs lipstick.

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Career Style, Posts, Style, Work

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  1. Andrea says:

    Thank you for an unexpected trip down memory lane. That mid-20s feeling of purchasing *that* outfit. Putting it on and feeling invincible, powerful, pulled together…like you’ve finally made it to the mythical realm of Professional Adult. That’s the good stuff.

    On a trench-related note: does anyone have recommendations for a waterproof (or at least water-resistant) trench that can also work for daily wear? So many of the weatherproof ones just feel like wearing a crinkly, plastic-y, sweaty grocery bag. If anyone out there has found a winner, let me know!

    • Sarah says:

      Try the Kuhl Jetstream.

    • Belle says:

      Try Lndon Fog, it feels like a 90s throwback brand, but it’s waterproof and classic.

      • Jenn S. says:

        +1 London Fog!

        I own two, in Khaki and in Black, on Belle’s years-ago recommendation. I love them. They are waterproof, not crinkly in the slightest, and drape nicely! They have options with removable liners that can take you further in colder weather, too.

    • LJG says:

      Boden’s trenches are water-resistant and definitely not crinkly-feeling. I have an older one that’s pretty straightforward (although, as always with Boden, a surprise print lining that delights), but their most recent season has a color-blocked version that’s beautiful.

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