How to Wear a Trench Coat in Eight Modern Ways

A staple of a stylish wardrobe.

I’ve always loved wearing a trench coat. I got my first during college when the trend was wearing tight, short, belted coats with the collars up. Since then I’ve gone longer and looser, and my latest is a knee-length, single-breasted trench coat in grey.

It’s one of my favorite items to wear in fall, winter, and spring, due to it going with pretty much everything in my wardrobe. In this article, we’ll highlight this versatility by showing you how to wear a trench coat in eight modern ways.

How to Wear a Trench Coat: The Basics

You have two basic options when wearing a trench coat. The first is to embrace the formality of the item and wear it with your nicer clothes: shirts, suits, and slacks. The other option, and my personal favorite, is to dress it down with jeans, a sweater, and boots.

Ultimately, the trench coat outfit you go for will depend on both your personal style and the practicalities of your day-to-day. If you want a trench coat to wear to the office, then you’re naturally going to go with formal wear.

Beyond that be sure to consider length. There is a lot of advice out there suggesting shorter men go with shorter cut styles of coat. While this rules out one of the more exciting trench coat trends, it is something to think about.

See Also: Grey Jeans are a Criminally Underrated Choice of Denim

Color is another important factor. Trench coats in shades of beige or camel are what many of us think of when we think about the style. However, this isn’t the only way to go. Dark greys and navy offer a more forgiving color palette that will go with most of your closet. If you want something more out-there, then choose a more unusual color or pattern.

Finally, think about the details and trimmings. Trench coats come in single and double-breasted versions, and may or may not come with belts, wrist straps, epaulets (the flap on the shoulder), numerous pockets, large collars, and patterned linings. Consider what exactly you want from a coat before committing to buy.

Eight Modern Trench Coat Outfits

Outfit One: Classic Trench Coat Over Formal Clothes

Trench Coat with Shirt

Why it Works: Wearing a trench coat over formal clothes is the classic way to wear one. But it doesn’t have to be stuffy. A well-fitted coat paired with a modern suit is always going to look good. In the image above, the camel coat contrasts nicely with the darker trousers, while the brown shirt finishes the look off perfectly.

Outfit Two: Trench Coat With Jeans and a Sweater

Banana Republic

Why it Works: This casual trench coat outfit pairs grey jeans with white shoes and a white jumper for a casual weekend look. Contrast this with the image above, in which a very similar coat looks very formal, for true evidence of a trench coat’s versatility.

Outfit Three: Oversized Trench Coat with Loose Fitting Pants


Why it Works: This trench coat outfit is superbly modern due to the relaxed fit of the trench coat and the baggier pants that fall perfectly above the ankles. The simple colors ensure there are no distractions and that the focus stays on the outfit’s interesting fit. In this image, the model wears sandals to complete the look, although it would work just as well with shoes.

Outfit Four: Check Trench Coat


Why it Works: The check trench coat is a twist on the style that is sure to make you stand out. Beyond the pattern of the coat, I particularly like the muted color addition of the beige turtleneck. It’s not clear in the image, but if you look closely you can see that the jeans actually have holes in them, which is a brave embellishment that works because the black color of the jeans goes well with the checks.

Outfit Five: Trench Coat with Shorts

Trench Coat with Shorts

Why it Works: Wearing a trench coat with shorts is an idea that takes a lot of getting used to. But, it actually makes a lot of sense. Summer trench coats are both light and waterproof which makes them the perfect jacket for staying dry in the warmer months. The key to this look is to wear it with your smarter summer outfits, rather than with your athletic shorts. As for the above outfit specifically, the color of the shorts and the blue from the shirt go really well with the camel trench coat.

Outfit Six: Belted Long Grey Trench Coat and Black Trousers and Boots


Why it Works: This trench coat outfit looks great because of the muted colors and oversized fit. The slight contrast between the grey coat and black trousers and boots ensures the outfit isn’t too dark. The turtleneck sweater is a nice touch, as is the splash of color from the star on the collar. While the whole outfit is oversized, the belt and the rolled-up trousers ensure that it isn’t sloppy and shapeless.

Outfit Seven: Navy Trench Coat with Blue Jeans and a Sweater

Short Trench Coat and Sweater

Why it Works: This is another outstanding example of how a trench coat can easily be part of a casual outfit. This one works especially well due to its navy color, which blends in with the blue jeans and dark jumper, and because it is cut shorter than some of the other trenches on the list. Removing the belt and wearing the coat undone helps with the casual vibes.

Outfit Eight: Business Casual Navy Trench Coat

Business Casual Trench Coat
United Colors or Benetton Trench Coat

Why it Works: This is the look for the modern worker. The slim-fit navy trench coat is the perfect match for the grey chinos and the casual shoes in this outfit. The whole ensemble works to create a look that is smart without going over the top. This outfit could easily be made smarter by swapping the grey chinos for slacks and the casual shoes for dress shoes.

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Duncan Elder

Duncan is the founder and editor-in-chief of The Boardwalk. He's a menswear writer who has spent the last 15 years developing his own sense of style, which lies at the cross-section of mid-noughties indie and Uniqlo-inspired minimalism.

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