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How to Buy a Trench Coat You’ll Love to Wear

I often joke that trench coat season lasts about 5 minutes. It comes and goes in the spring while those of us in the northeast are still wearing our winter coats. By the time we need something for rain, the pickings are slim!

Don’t miss out again!

While it’s still early enough in the season for you to take advantage of the best selection, here are 5 tips for buying a trench coat that is both flattering and functional.


Short trench coats have been all the rage in the past few years. Mid-thigh and above are what you will find most in the stores. But, it is valuable to have both a shorter, mid-thigh coat for wearing with jeans and pants and a knee-length coat for skirts and dresses. The longer line adds more elegance. Here are two traditional trench coats in basic black.

See more options (including other colors) here.

What has been missing from the trench coat scene in recent years is the longer mid-calf trench. While this can be handy in terms of keeping you dry it can also border on frumpy, especially if it is worn too long or is too big or without a belt to give it some shape. This, again, as you’ve heard me mention before, is where the Fashion Fit Formula can be valuable to tell you exactly what length is best for balancing your body.

Single- or Double Breasted

One of the biggest questions you’ll need to address is whether you want a single or double-breasted coat. When in doubt choose a single breasted style. It’s a very clean, elegant look and you don’t have to wonder if it makes you look wider than you are.

If you choose double-breasted, choose one where the buttons blend with the color of fabric. Why they add 6 million buttons to the front of a coat in a contrasting color is beyond me. That’s where the eye goes instead of flowing easily over a lovely silhouette.

Here is an example of a nice looking double-breasted trench where the buttons are not distracting:

And, if you don’t like the look of buttons at all you can find wrap trench coats or ones with covered buttons.

See more options here.


Since most trench coats have a belt or tie, it is easy, as my mom would say, to look like a sack of potatoes tied in the middle.

I know, I know…not exactly the look you’re going for!

If you have a small waist, a belt can be nice to follow your curves so you don’t look boxy and feel frumpy. Chances are good that if you have a small waist you also have curvy hips. In which case an A-line cut is great. Here’s one option:

You can also get the illusion of curve without the belt:

Or, you can tie the belt behind you to create the illusion of a waist without drawing attention to that part of your body.

See more options here.


You have two choices when it comes to color. Get one in a versatile neutral or go wild and enjoy a pretty color. Ideally, I’d recommend one of each since you will have plenty of opportunity to wear both and that way you can satisfy your mood, your wardrobe and the occasion by having more than one option.

I know that the traditional trench coat comes in some variation of beige. I’ll be frank. It’s not my favorite and doesn’t do much for most people, especially if you choose a shade of beige that isn’t flattering (which is very easy to do). If that’s really your first choice, be sure the shade of beige complements your skin tone. I know that’s easier said than done so why not choose another, safer neutral instead. Black, navy, brown or charcoal are great options. Even white or off-white is often better than beige.

Or, how about a trench coat in a pretty blush tone:

See more options here.

Prints & Texture

Who’s to say you have to go with a solid color? Why not add a touch of whimsy or just something different on a cloudy, gray day?

Of course, as with all prints you want to be sure that the predominant color is a good one for you. If a print intrigues you, look at it. Then, close your eyes and open them again. What color pops out at your first? Is it a color that looks good on you? If so, try on the coat and go from there to see if you like the fit and style. If not, keep looking!

Here is a subtle window pane pattern:

If you like the idea of a trench coat, but prefer something with a bohemian flair, try this fabulous floral lace trench coat:

Go here to see more prints and textures including some fabulous polka dot trench coats.

A trench coat is a great investment piece for your wardrobe. When you find one you love, you will keep it for years. Never settle for simply functional – there is no need to do that with all the pretty coats out there and you will never feel excited to wear it!

What you see here is just a sampling of the beautiful options (in a wide variety of price points) I found online. You can see all of them with my comments and suggestions here.

Please note: All garments pictured here (and in the catalogue) are vegan-friendly (made from fabrics that did not harm any animals).

Some of the affiliate links may generate commissions for Total Image Consultants which helps support the time spent creating these very specific recommendations.


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Ginger Burr is a fashion stylist and personal shopper serving clients worldwide from metro Boston.