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How to style a trench coat: 7 trench coat outfits to inspire your winter looks

Woman&Home logo Woman&Home 11/30/2022 Jess Beech

Once you've nailed how to style a trench coat, you'll never be stuck for outfit inspiration again. When it comes to forever pieces, none are as timeless as a trench coat, it's the look you can reach for time and time again. 

If you're wondering how to style a trench coat, the answer is pretty much with anything and everything in your closet. The beauty of a trench is that it can be dressed up for the day or down for the evening, and works equally well for formal office environments or for heading out with friends. Wearable all year, size up and you've got enough room to slip a cashmere sweater on, that will ensure you and your trench coat can beat the winter chill. Often also one of the best waterproof jackets, the best trench coats, are ideal in spring and fall too, when the weather is in that awkward in-between stage. 

When it comes to silhouette, key details tend to be a double-breasted front,  wide lapels, storm flaps, and a belted waist. Trench coats are normally relatively lightweight compared to the best wool coats, but they are sturdy enough to hold their structure. More often than not, trench coats are crafted from cotton, making them breathable and relatively lightweight. They were initially made for military purposes in the early 1900s, but have since become a style staple worn by the likes of Princess Diana and Meryl Streep over the years. They’ve been re-imagined on countless runways, and the Burberry trench coat remains one of fashion’s most coveted pieces. So, if you need a little inspiration on how to wear this timeless piece, we’ve got everything you need… 

How to style a trench coat: 7 ways to wear this timeless outerwear

How to style a trench coat over a dress

Trench coats and the best dresses work really well together, but you do need to make some considerations when it comes to the cut of each in order to nail how to style a trench coat. If your trench coat is very A-line, and flares out from the waist, this can look quite twee and ultra-feminine when worn over a dress with a wide skirt, which if you're looking for more of a '50s feel is ideal. If you want it to feel more modern, pair an A-line hemmed trench coat with a narrower, more form-fitting dress. The length matters too. If you’re wearing a mini dress, then a shorter-length trench is fine, but something that hits mid-thigh when your dress continues towards your ankles can appear unbalanced. In general, a long, straight-cut trench coat is the best shape for teaming with dresses.

A styling tip… If you’re deciding what to wear over a dress that’s brightly colored, top it with a trench in a neutral like beige or camel so that the two can work together, instead of fighting for attention. 

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2. How to style a trench coat with jeans

The addition of a trench coat is a straightforward way to make denim pieces feel more dressed up. The structured shape is the perfect antidote to even your slouchiest, worn-out, lightest-washed denim, making it a great option for how to style baggy jeans. There are no hard-and-fast rules when it comes to color, as denim can be worn with trench coats in any hue. Take inspiration from the street style set and wear your trench open so you can see all of your jean-based outfits beneath, or button and belt so just a little of your best jeans peek out the bottom. A crisp white shirt and box-fresh trainers make for a spot-on spring look and can be swapped for knee-high boots (with skinny or straight-leg jeans) and a roll neck in cooler climes.

A styling tip… The lighter your denim, the more relaxed it will feel. Stick to darker shades for smarter occasions. 

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3. How to style a trench coat for work

Thanks to the military connotations and structured shape, trench coats are the perfect outerwear choice for work. They earn extra brownie points if you have a busy commute on public transport too, as the cotton fabric won’t leave you feeling as hot and flustered as being all wrapped up in wool. As most offices require some sort of dress code, this is the time to play it safe with your trench rather than pushing the sartorial boundaries. Choose one that’s true to size, rather than oversized, and complement the sharp cut with tailored shirts and trousers. Again, beige and camel are the obvious choices, while forest green will inject a spot of color to liven up an otherwise monochrome look. 

A styling tip… For added polish and to instantly make any coat look more expensive, swap self-fabric belts for one of the best designer belts with a statement buckle. 

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4. How to style a trench coat for the weekend

We don’t know about you, but when it comes to getting dressed for a chilled Saturday or Sunday, comfort is always our top priority. Think a pair of the warmest leggings, oversized t-shirts, and slouchy knits for a laid-back winter outfit. On paper, it would seem that a trench coat wouldn’t fit the bill for this kind of brief, but actually, it’s the perfect piece to pull these casual pieces together. Plus, the longer length of a trench will mean you can get away with wearing leggings with a shorter top without the fear of a see-through-fabric-related faux-pas. Win-win. 

A styling tip… Want to add interest to your trench? Sling a knit over your shoulders or layer up with a fuzzy printed scarf. 

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5. How to style a trench coat for the evening

When it comes to how to style a trench coat for the evening, trade in your trusty cotton design for something that feels a little more luxe. The faux leather trench has been having a moment for the past few seasons and remains popular this year. Choose a high-shine fabric to keep it more modern than Matrix, and don’t feel limited to classic black. There are lots of lovely versions available this season, at all price points, with deep reds and rusty browns popular too. If pleather feels too daring, consider a wool, silk or brocade trench or simply one in a brighter, more exciting hue instead. 

A styling tip… Feel self-conscious in a shorter hemline? Adding a longline trench in the mix will look instantly glam and help you feel more confident. 

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6. How to style a trench coat for the fall/winter

We might be in the depths of winter, but the temperatures outside don’t always reflect the time of year. If it’s too warm to be fully snuggled up in your beloved puffer jacket then learning how to style a trench coat will see you through fall outfit ideas and into the winter season. The wide lapels create the perfect space for a roll-neck sweater, creating a look that’s both cozy and elegant. Longline trenches are your best bet for this time of year, as they give extra coverage and protection, and will look especially chic when belted and worn with any of this winter's boot trends. A trench that’s too short won’t trap enough heat to keep you warm, so save these styles for spring or early fall. 

A styling tip… Coordinate the rest of your outfit with the tones of your trench for a synergistic look. 

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7. How to style a trench coat for spring/summer

It’s a rare occasion when at least one layer isn’t required as you shift from a winter wardrobe into a spring one. Enter (yet again) the trench coat. Warmer weather calls for more fluid shapes and even lighter fabrics (anything lined will likely be too warm) for a throw-on-and-go layering piece - look for unlined versions for a cooler wear. There’s something very fresh about the juxtaposition of shorts with a trench coat, just wear it with closed-in shoes like ankle boots, loafers, or trainers instead of sandals. Opt for a softer shade of trench coat, as it will feel more warm-weather appropriate. 

A styling tip… Instead of buttoning and belting up, keep your trench open to show off your spring and summer outfits. You can always tie the belt around the back to nip your waist in and keep the look neat.

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Are trench coats in style for 2022?

Trench coats are one of those statement pieces that never go out of style. The finer details might change, such as the fabric or most popular colorways, but the shape always endures. Vetements showed check and tartan trench coats as part of its Haute Couture Fall/Winter collection 2022/2023 at Paris Fashion Week, while Christian Dior opted for opulent brocade. Both were longline, worn in a wrap style, and tied at the waist - making them the focal point of the outfit. 

To play it safe, and ensure your investment lasts season after season, we’d recommend investing in a classic cut trench coat in brown or beige. You could choose navy or black too, but these are slightly less traditional. Extra interest or detailing, like panels of prints, additional pleats, and statement lapels all make for a striking look but go too fashion-forward and it’ll just mean your trench coat dates faster.

Do trench coats go with everything?

One of the best things about trench coats is that they go with just about everything in your wardrobe. This is especially true if you stick to the traditional color of light beige, as this neutral shade won’t jar against even the boldest brights or busiest of prints. The shape comes into it too, and the choice of wearing undone or buttoned up means you can switch up the way you wear it depending on what you’re wearing beneath. For example, wearing your trench buttoned and belted over a chunky knit would distort your frame, while wearing it open, with the belt tied at the back would just show off your jumper and still nip you in, in the middle.

Ultimately, trench coats are super versatile and will look just as good worn with a slinky mini dress and heels as with a knitted tracksuit bottom and jumper. Which is why they're one of the best types of coats you can own.


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