- The Washington Times - Saturday, April 7, 2007

What shape?

The most modern version is a voluminous A-line shape, often with bracelet-length sleeves and narrow shoulders, but the slim self-tie silhouette is still big. Epaulettes and a flanged back still come on many versions.

What length?

Hems can be above the knee or even hip length.

The shorter styles give off a more casual vibe, says Deborah Lloyd, executive vice president of design at Banana Republic but are very “of the moment” and still can be worn over a flirty dress.

What kind of fabric?

A cotton poplin is pretty traditional for a trench, but so many high-tech fabrics are either water-repellant or water-resistant that there’s no rule.

Gregg Andrews, fashion director at Nordstrom, says even denim is being used for trench coats, so they’re not even always meant for rain.

Over pants or a dress?

Either one. That’s part of the appeal. The most glaring fashion faux pas, though, would be to wear a short trench with a long dress. There’s more flexibility with pants.

What do you do with that belt?

A trench is most flattering if you wear it buttoned and belted to define the waist, Mr. Andrews says, but you also can wear it open if you pull the belt to the back and knot it. The belt should always be tied in a knot, not a bow.

Many trenches come with a belt that buckles, but Mr. Andrews suggests you just tie the belt to give it a more nonchalant look.


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