In the Trenches with a Grey Suit and Heavy Rain

Most people pay little attention to their outerwear even thought it is the first bit of your look that anyone sees. When I joined corporate America a couple of years ago, the number of oversized, ratty, North Face Denalis worn over suits was astounding. Come winter most people switch to equally ill fitting top coats, and parkas. While I understand that undoubted appeal of not giving a shit, your outerwear does matter.

Made with Pride in the United States of America
Made with Pride in the United States of America.

I have repeatedly tried to find the perfect coat: Something that I can wear over a suit, something that can handle the North Carolina winter and more importantly something that can handle the rain. This last one, seems to be a serious problem because rain wear in the United States is scant. Alas, the humidity, which even seems to exist in the southern winters makes everything clammy so my go to Barbour options are consistently out of play. I love my wool peacoat just as much as the next guy, but honestly it is just not cold enough to wear that. I do not usually believe in miracles but that is exactly what American Trench has delivered.

I first heard about American Trench from Hooman Majd’s blog a few years ago right when the initial run of coats first hit the market. He described the coat as the only one that he might ever need. I was extremely intrigued by the concept of an American made trench coat, but my enthusiasm was curbed by the not-so-egalitarian $785 price tag. Fast forward to now and with my bank account no longer that of a broke graduate student, I was ready to take the plunge.

Last month, I reached out to American Trench to discuss the sizing (since these are not sold in any stores other than Epaulet NYC) and Jacob Hurwitz, the founder/ owner reached out to me. I was pleasantly surprised by this, because it brought an almost familial feel to the company, something that has all but vanished in businesses everywhere. I wanted to buy a coat because of the passion with which it was being sold to me – a feeling I almost never get at a department store or a big brand outlet.

A couple of days after I ordered the coat, there was a box waiting for me when I got home. I opened the box and found a beautiful blue coat wrapped in red tissue. Right out of the box, the coat felt substantial and the the Ventile fabric sourced from the United Kingdom felt absolutely wonderful to the hand. I would encourage you to read the details of this fabric. It is naturally water and wind resistant which along with the DWR coating that is applied to it makes it your perfect cover in the rain. Despite all the protection,  the fabric is still highly breathable (you will love this for humid rainy days) and still totally silent. It has the soft feel of cotton, but something more that is hard to describe. The fabric has a certain warmth to it (like listening to jazz on vinyl) that other rain coats lack. It felt natural, unlike the rubberized feel of Macktintosh rain slickers.

Proof of the fabric used and something that I can really stand behind. You'll feel (metaphorically) bulletproof with this on
Proof of the fabric used and something that I can really stand behind. You’ll feel (metaphorically) bulletproof with this on.

The coat has a single breasted four-button (I could seriously go on and on about the quality of these beautiful buttons) closure akin to a traditional mac, albeit with a button on hood and two side pockets.

The coat includes a button on hood, and adds to the versatility of this coat. When I wear this coat with my jeans, I keep the hood on to keep the look casual.
The coat includes a button on hood, and adds to the versatility of this coat. When I wear this coat with my jeans, I keep the hood on to keep the look casual.

On one side, the pocket contains a small zippered sub-pocket for any valuables you might be carrying with you. The body of the coat is lined with a plaid cotton lining sourced locally from mills in North Carolina, while the sleeves are satin-polyester (which is a seriously blessing since putting the coat on over a thick sweater or a blazer is a breeze). The inside has a couple of large pockets (that you can store your folded up hood in) and an easy to access iPhone pocket.

Simple but perfect: No ridiculously sized lapels, no attention grabbing epaulets, just a simple coat with a perfect fit.
Simple but perfect: No ridiculously sized lapels, no attention grabbing epaulets, just a simple coat with a perfect fit.

The top notch fabric used in the coat is paired with top notch construction and ideal utility in mind. The sleeves are constructed with tabs at the cuffs that can be used to tighten them to prevent water from dripping in. The coat itself is not belted, and comes to about 5 inches above the knees in length. I tried the coat on both with and without a blazer on and I was honestly astounded by how well it fit. In most cases, rain coats are either cut so slim that it is hard to move with a blazer or a suit on, or at the other end, feel almost entirely like potato sacks. This was not the case with American Trench; the fit was downright perfect.

You dry coat sleeves will thank you one day.
You dry coat sleeves will thank you one day.

A button-in Blackwatch tartan wool liner can be used with the coat as well (also priced at a not so egalitarian $165), which coupled with the superior water-resistance, can make this your go to outerwear in most US Cities. I’ve tried this in some serious Seattle-type rain and managed to stay perfectly dry. It takes a lot to really make me fall in love, and after taking a mile long walk in the downpour and still managing to stay dry did the trick.

Button holes for the liner run along the length of the coat for a secure fit.
Button holes for the liner run along the length of the coat for a secure fit. Also, note the cotton plaid lining.

In my opinion, this coat is an investment. You could always go out and buy a cheaper  raincoat only to have to replace it in a few years once it stops handling the rain well. The cotton gabardine coats offered by Burberry, are comparable in quality but at almost three times the price, remain something that feel substantially more like a luxury item rather than something that can take a beating in the rain. Personally, I would not be able to justify one given that something this well made is available from right at home. If you want to stay dry and are in the market for a good old rain slicker, make it an American Trench.

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