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Trench Coat by Tunmer  <br />(The Stars and Stripes, 1918)Trench Coat by Tunmer
(The Stars and Stripes, 1918)
The raglan sleeve, gaberdine trench coat made by Tunmer was yet another of the many choices made available to the officers of the Entent Cordiale.
A Trench Coat by Thresher  and Glenny   <br />(The Stars and Stripes, 1918)A Trench Coat by Thresher and Glenny
(The Stars and Stripes, 1918)
Let the word go out here and now to all "stylists" and "fashion journalists" as well as all the other assorted fops who like to play fast and loose with the language; we know who you are and we know your game. The term "trench coat" will not suffer the same abuse as the word "Martini". Both have clear, lucid definitions; there can be no such thing as a "chocolate Martini" and those actors in the movie "The Matrix" were not wearing trench coats (they were wearing frocks). A quick waltz through this section illustrates well the characteristics shared by all Great War trench coats: they were double-breasted (although it is said single-breasted did exist), they must be belted, and they must be cut like a sac, and they must have wrist-straps. Raglan sleeves, storm patches and billows pockets were all optional -and most important: there were NO D rings, those were added later.

Trench Coat by Thresher and Glenny  <br />(The Stars and Stripes, 1918)Trench Coat by Thresher and Glenny
(The Stars and Stripes, 1918)
This ad proudly announces that the Thresher and Glenny trench coat pictured is like the one worn during "the first winter of the war" -those first brisk days along the river Marne when the Hun finaly understood that he would have to wait a bit longer for that Paris dinner.
Trench Coat by Gamage  <br />(The Stars and Stripes, 1918)Trench Coat by Gamage
(The Stars and Stripes, 1918)
"Comprising the latest improvements for overseas -The Trench Coat 'De Luxe'!
Trench Coats for Women  <br />(The Stars and Stripes, 1918)Trench Coats for Women
(The Stars and Stripes, 1918)
The Donut Dollies, Nurses and Hello Girls needed trench coats, too. This link will display the printable image of a 1918 advertisement for one of the first American trench coats made for women.
Trench Coat by Barker  <br />(The Stars and Stripes, 1918)Trench Coat by Barker
(The Stars and Stripes, 1918)
Yet another action-posed advertisement for an officer's private purchase trench coat. "The Great Military Outfitter", John Barker and Company, stepped up to the plate during the crises of 1914 and began to produce the "famous" 'Kenbar' trench coat:

"Every detail so necessary for the most strenuous wear in the trenches is embodied in this excellent coat. The collar can be worn in four positions. The sleeves are made with reinforced elbows, and the skirt is cut full and fitted with cavalry gusset".

Trench Coat by Hitchinbrook  <br />(Army and Navy Stores, 1918)Trench Coat by Hitchinbrook
(Army and Navy Stores, 1918)
"Similar to the coat worn by English officers. Cut very full presenting an unusual swagger effect. Made of double texture, tan cashmere with twill lining. An extra, detachable, fleece interlining affords further protection against the cold... Full belt with slide buckle, and belt rings to which accessories may be attached. Absolutely waterproof. 48 inches in length."
Trench Coat by Junior  <br />(The Stars and Stripes, 1918)Trench Coat by Junior
(The Stars and Stripes, 1918)
Laboring under the most intense preasure, the harried ad man of 1918 enthused about the Junior Store's latest trench coat just so:

"This coat meets every specification of what a trench coat should be. The collar, when turned up, forms a Storm Proof Collar and has an extra wrap fixed to the shoulder to cover the fastening and make it waterproof."

Trench Coat by Sears  <br />(Sears and Roebuck Catalog, 1918)Trench Coat by Sears
(Sears and Roebuck Catalog, 1918)
Strikingly similar to the American Army officer's 1912 great coat, Sears manufactured this cotton khaki trench coat in the same olive drab shade as the enlisted man's slicker.
Trench Coats on Madison Avenue <br />(Magazine Advertisement. 1918)Trench Coats on Madison Avenue
(Magazine Advertisement. 1918)
The trench coat has become such a mainstay in the male wardrobe throughout the years it is difficult to imagine a time when the great shopping boulevards were without them. Perhaps the first men's shops to offer them in the U.S. were on New York's Madison Avenue: F.R. Tripler and Brooks Brothers, where the garments can still be purchased to this day. The attached vintage print ad was commissioned by F.R. Trippler for a gabardine trench coat as well as the sale of private-purchase "flexible protective body armor". The body armor appears to have been modeled after a German design. The reader may be disappointed to learn that the Madison Avenue boutiques no longer offer body armor.
The Famous One: The Burberry Trench Coat  <br />(The Stars and Stripes, 1918)The Famous One: The Burberry Trench Coat
(The Stars and Stripes, 1918)
The trench coat, the submarine and the machine-gun were just a few of the innovations bequeathed to the modern world following the bloody brawl of 1914-1918. All three are still with us today, and one could even argue that, given the bitter peace that followed, these three were the only victors that emerged from that war. If that is the case, three cheers for "Field Marshal Burberry" and his legion of trench coats that have marched on every capitol city since that first autumn on the Marne!
The Winter Trench Coat <br />(Thresher and Glenny Catalog, 1918)The Winter Trench Coat
(Thresher and Glenny Catalog, 1918)
Illustrated pages from the Thresher and Glenny catalog showing how a blanket lining could be added to the trench coat in order to make the garment more suitable for winter campaigns. Also included in the advertisement were three glowing testimonials written by British officers who were simply bubbling over with excitement for their Thresher and Glenny trench coats.
Four photographs of  World War One Trench Coats <br />(A Current Book, 2005)Four photographs of World War One Trench Coats
(A Current Book, 2005)
The following four images were first published in Stephen J. Chambers' remarkable book, Uniforms & Equipment Of The British Army In World War I, and they will give the viewer good understanding concerning the broad variety of different trench coats that were made available at the time.

The afore mentioned British tailor's journal "West End Gazette" remarked:

"A feature (so far as tailors are concerned) of the European War is the variety of garments worn by officers, the details of which are suggested by the actual requirements of the campaign, rather than by the usual official regulations from the War Office. Never in the history of military tailoring, has such latitude been allowed, and officers are quick to recognize and avail themselves of the advantages of every practical design that is submitted for their approval."

Click here to read an old Vanity Fair magazine article about the trench coat.

A Trench Coat for the Fashionable Ladies <br />(Harper's Bazaar, 1918)A Trench Coat for the Fashionable Ladies
(Harper's Bazaar, 1918)
Attached, you will find one of the first elegant, elongated fashion figure drawings to depict the trench coat as an element of feminine mode. Although this drawing first appeared in a Harper's Bazaar fashion editorial recommending the coat as one of the better private purchase uniform items that could be worn by an American woman in one of the auxiliary units, it is clear that the fashion potential of the garment was not lost on the magazine's editors or anyone else on this side of the Atlantic. This particular one was produced in far nicer fabric than was made available for the men. The acquaintance between the trench coat and American fashion designers has remained a strong one ever since.

To see other examples of war's influence on fashion, click here.

Popular from the Start <br />(NY Times, 1917)Popular from the Start
(NY Times, 1917)
This small notice is interesting for what it doesn't say: of all the uniform foppery and up-town military accessories that were made available for American officers of World War I, there was no run on serge, whipcord or fine Melton wools; pigskin was plentiful for custom boots and no one seemed fearful that pewter flasks were scarce. What was in short supply were trench coats. The officer candidates from Plattsburg (N.Y.) were making their desires known: they did not care to risk life and limb only to wear a mackinaw. These men wanted trench coats and the New York Times found that newsworthy (It is interesting to note that the reporting journalist had never actually seen one, or else he might not have said that it extended to the ankle).
One Tailor's Encounter with the Trench Coat <br />(West End Gazette, 1915)One Tailor's Encounter with the Trench Coat
(West End Gazette, 1915)
An excerpt from a British tailoring journal which explains what the garment is and is not. The illustrations show a long forgotten pattern with billows pockets and excessively long cuffs, which were intended to be gathered by wrist straps. You will also note that the trench coat is bereft of "D rings" and "gas flaps" and other fantasy elements of military-tailoring.
The World War One Trench Coat  <br />(Vanity Fair Magazine, 1918)The World War One Trench Coat
(Vanity Fair Magazine, 1918)
The fashion designers of the past ninety-four years all seem to be of one mind when it comes to the subject of the trench coat: it needs to be re-designed every four months. Years have passed, but still the garment has not reached a final state; meanwhile the rest of us only get one shot at a first impression. It is no matter whether the one who wears the trench coat is an actual trench-dweller or simply one who Tweets all day; the designers all have their opinions regarding the fluctuating number of straps and 'D' rings. There has been no end to the amount of cleverness applied to the re-treading of the garment and through the years we have been treated to doggy trench coats and lady's evening gowns cut to resemble trench coats. Yet in the dark days of 1917, when the United States entered the fray, it was not lost on those who glanced at the attached column that too many of these raincoats were already buried in the damp grave yards of France and Belgium.

Click here to read about the fashion legacy of W.W. II: the t-shirt...

One of the First Trench Coats for U.S. Civilians <br />(Magazine Ad, 1917)One of the First Trench Coats for U.S. Civilians
(Magazine Ad, 1917)
No doubt, the fashionable minds who sat so comfortably in America, far removed from the dung and destruction of the European war, would thumb through magazines such as "Leslie's", "Collier's" or "Current History" looking for fashion's newest "thing". How pleased these fops must have been that the ink-stained photogravure boys didn't let them down! The Brothers Guiterman in Minnesota must have been numbered among these macaronis because they seemed to have been the first to begin production of a trench coat intended solely for civilian production (although it must be remembered that during the war, trench coats were a "private purchase" item, available only to officers sold only by haberdashers and privately-owned military furnishing establishments).