The trench coat was born of practical necessity, but has long been associated with fashion. It is currently one of fashion maven Tim Gunn’s ten required things that every woman must own. However, these coats are worn by both genders and were initially adapted for use by men during World War I, hence the name trench, which refers to the trenches used for military engagement during the war.
The typical trench coat, as first designed by Thomas Burberry, used gabardine fabric, and was water resistant. It was usually at least knee length and was only available to certain officers in the British and French armies, as optional wear. The coat was usually belted and many were lined with warm material like wool. They were a good alternative to wool serge coats, and could be slightly lighter in weight while still providing some protection against cold and/or rainy conditions.