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Overcoat vs Trench Coat: What Is The Difference?

Overcoat vs Trench Coat: What Is The Difference?

When it comes to bundling up and still looking stylish during cold weather, you have two main options: the overcoat vs trench coat. Is there really any difference between the two coats? And if so, which of these outwear styles best suits you?

While some men may not really distinguish between the two, we believe there are some key differences you should be aware of. And as you’ll soon discover, a proper wardrobe will feature both an overcoat and a trench coat – because they serve different purposes from a practical standpoint. It more or less comes down to the weather you’re facing when you walk outside. 

To help you look and feel your best in the proper attire – rain, snow, or freezing temperatures –  we’re going to break down these differences and help you make the right pick. Let’s dive right in!

What Is The Difference Between A Trench Coat and An Overcoat?

Let’s get one thing addressed right away – an overcoat and trench coat are not the same thing. They serve different purposes and should be worn in different situations. And, the manner in which you style these coats differs, too. To help you gain a better understanding of these differences let’s first explain both types:

Overcoats Explained

As the name suggests, overcoats go over your clothing. We know what you’re thinking – don’t all coats go over your clothing? Well, the overcoat was originally designed to go over suits in particular.

This helped the well-dressed man stay warm in brutal winter temperatures. But, the overcoat wasn’t just for protecting men from the harsh weather and elements. The overcoat was also tasked with protecting your suit underneath, so you could take off the coat upon entering a building and look fresh and clean. In order to keep the wearer warm and cozy, most overcoats are designed with wool fabric. They’re pretty heavy – and that is by design. This weight adds to the function of your overcoat.

Today, the overcoat is far more versatile – you can even wear an overcoat casually! Today’s overcoat is far lighter than those of the past, too. Traditional overcoats were known for being incredibly heavy. Today’s overcoats are also shorter than the traditional style, which used to go down to the ankles. Remember – the overcoat was a utility garment first and foremost. It wasn’t just about protecting your suit jacket – but your suit pants, too. If you want to learn more about this type of long coat, take a look at our complete guide on how an overcoat should fit!

Trench Coats Explained

Ok – you now know a bit more about the modern overcoat and how it originated. But what about trench coats? What are these, and where did they come from?

We can understand why so many men (and women, for that matter) confuse the overcoat and trench coat for one another. After all, they serve a similar purpose – and to the untrained eye, they look the same. Make no mistake though – they are very different in terms of practicality.

The trench coat is a much newer garment – aging back to the war eras of the late 1800s and early 1900s. Originally, the classic men’s trench coat was designed for military wear. That’s why the traditional look is much more color-neutral – to help those wearing them blend in with their surroundings and remain camouflaged.

These days, however, trench coats have followed a similar path as the overcoat. They’re more laidback and modernized, using a lighter fabric and shorter lay. You’ll see men using trench coats today as luxury raincoats. The modern trench coats you see today are water-resistant and feature more design elements like epaulets, belted waists, and more. They’re designed for protection from rain – not so much freezing temperatures.

Overcoat vs Trench Coat: Which Is Best For You?

Now that you have a basic understanding of the overcoat vs trench coat debate, how can you distinguish between the two? And, which style is right for you? It’s actually pretty simple. Here is what you need to know:

  • Overcoat: Designed to protect the wearer from cold weather. They’re heavier, which provides superior protection. As such, these are one of the premier winter coats one can have in their closet. Silhouettes vary, but most overcoats range from full-length to one that ends at the knee.
  • Trench Coat: Designed to protect the wearer from rain/snow. They’re water-resistant, and a bit more lightweight. As such, you’ll need to layer up underneath the trench coat to stay warm and dry at the same time. Silhouettes vary, but most trench coats range from the knees to the mid-shin. They’re rarely full-length.

With that said, the debate shouldn’t be trench coat vs overcoat. As you can see, these have unique differences in terms of practicality. It shouldn’t be a matter of which one is best for you – because they serve different purposes. You may want to invest in one of each – so you can be prepared for whatever type of weather you face.

If you wake up one morning and it’s freezing cold – but dry – you’ll be better off with the overcoat. This will keep you warm on your walk from the car to the office, or as you run errands throughout the day. Conversely, if you wake up one morning and temperatures are moderate – but the forecast calls for rain or snow – the trench coat will be your best bet. This will keep you dry and comfortable – protecting your outfit underneath.

Closing Thoughts On The Overcoat vs Trench Coat Debate

There you have it – everything you need to know in the overcoat vs trench coat debate. As you can see, it’s not a matter of one or the other. A well-rounded wardrobe will have both an overcoat and a trench coat.

But, regardless of which type of coat you end up going with, one thing is for sure: you need to make sure it fits right. Even the most luxurious, well-styled overcoat or trench coat will look silly if it’s too big or too small. This is an all too common occurrence when you shop off the rack – which is why we encourage you to go custom if you truly care about the way you look and feel.

And when it comes to custom overcoats and custom trench coats, there is one place worth shopping: Black Lapel. Over the past decade, we’ve taken great pride in helping men just like you build their wardrobes. Our clothing doesn’t just fit your body to perfection: it fits your lifestyle, too. Need help navigating workplace dress codes or styling your outfits for upcoming events? Let us simplify things for you so you can step out looking and feeling your best.

It’s easy, as the entire process can be done online in just a few minutes. Our menswear specialists are so good at what they do that we’re confident your coat is going to fit exactly how you want. If not? We’ll make alterations on the house. Get started now!

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