I resisted getting a trenchcoat for a long time, thinking that they didn’t really suit my shape and height. But recently the classic cut, versatility and handy pockets have had me convinced, and I’ve been looking for the perfect trench since the beginning of the year. But either I’m really picky or it’s really hard – everything is either too flimsy, too expensive, or too “fashiony” with added frills – I want something classic and hard-wearing, but there’s no way I’m willing to pay Burberry type prices!
At some point in my search I came across the ScotteVest womens trenches. I’ve had ScotteVest recommended to me before for travel, as all their clothing items have a crazy number of pockets and are made from sturdy technical fabrics, but honestly they’ve always come across to me as better suited to older, more outdoorsy people than myself. Practical, yes, but not exactly chic. But these trenches came out a bit later and I think they actually manage to straddle that line between fashion and function, whilst costing a lot less than other serious contenders in my search for a trench coat.
Like all the other clothing items made by ScotteVest, the women’s trench has a large number of pockets (18 to be exact) to hold everything from lip-balm to an iPad. These are supposed to be arranged in such a way that the weight and bulk is cleverly and discreetly distributed. The fabric is light but gives a more structured than draped look (an issue I had with many cheap trenches I tried on), and is water-resistant. It rolls up into a surprisingly small size, and when unrolled again seems to not look creased at all. Overall it feels very well-made and comfortable to wear.
In terms of fit, I’d say that it runs slightly on the large side and is probably not as fitted as I would usually prefer to buy. The sizing information on the website is rather vague, so I ordered the Small and crossed my fingers that it wouldn’t be too small for me. As it turns out it’s roomy enough for me to layer some thick jumpers and eat a buffet without it even being particularly snug so I’m very, very glad I decided not to go with the medium. I’m a size 10-12 (Australian) usually, so I’d say if you’re any smaller than that and prefer your jackets fitted, you’re out of luck – the smallest they current make is a size small.
Due to the size, unbelted it isn’t the most flattering, especially on someone my height (~155cm) and shape which really needs a bit of waist definition to avoid looking like a blob or a kid playing dressups.
It looks much nicer belted and buttoned though, and is actually a very flattering shape. Being petite (height-wise), the waistline is a bit low and the sleeves a bit long for me, but this is something that I’ve just come to expect when buying any jacket outside of Asia. I’m a bit undecided about whether I want to bother shortening the sleeves and moving up the belt-loops around the waist, but I think it looks nice enough with the sleeves rolled up. Surprisingly I think the hem length is just right, sitting just above the hem of my usual dresses and not making me look shorter than I am.
The coat is warm enough to be worn with a t-shirt in our Perth winter, but does a good job at cutting the wind and can be worn with warmer layers underneath in colder weather. I’ve resisted buying an enormous winter jacket to take travelling as it would be completely useless at home – I like that this is versatile, compact and still quite dressy.
But the selling point of these jackets is that you can use them as a ‘carry-on’ on flights, especially on budget airlines with very strict luggage restrictions. So I tried cramming other random things that I might decide to take in a carry-on with me. I don’t own an iPad but like to read on flights, so tried putting my Kindle into the pockets as well as an umbrella, deodourant and some chargers.
Everyday stuff fits in beautifully without much visible bulk or discomfort, which is useful for me as I usually walk around with a camera bag and don’t have much other room for things like sunnies or tissues. I’d easily still have enough room for a passport, small notebook and other useful things to have on hand when travelling; if I didn’t travel with a DSLR I probably wouldn’t bother taking a bag around with me at all. The only danger is forgetting all your important stuff is in your jacket then taking it off and leaving it on a chair somewhere, which is something I’m often guilty of doing.
Bulkier stuff on the other hand is, well, bulky. Maybe I’m not doing it right, but the Kindle in particular looked pretty silly – I have no idea how an iPad would go. Then again, if the purpose of the exercise is just to sneak through some extra heavy or bulky items that wouldn’t fit into carry-on luggage (a useful technique if you’re only travelling with carry-on) then you only really need to wear it like that from security to boarding and can redistribute once on the plane. You could even secure the pockets then drape the coat nonchalantly over your arm, walking through with another few kilos of stuff. The two main pockets are big – I’m not saying I’d do it, but you can fit a bottle of wine in there. It would look completely ridiculous, but just saying.
In a nutshell:
- Reasonably priced compared to other trenchcoats out there.
- Classic design and flattering fit, unless you’re a very small (or large) size.
- 18 pockets!
- Negates the need for a handbag for everyday stuff.
- Would be very difficult for pickpockets to take things unnoticed.
- There’s some pretty sneaky hidden pockets that you could hide an emergency credit card in when travelling.
- Can fit a lot of stuff in the pockets to cheat carry-on luggage allowances.
- Wind and water-resistant.
- Light and compact, without much creasing.
- Being a trench, it can look as casual or as dressy as you need it to be – nice and versatile for travel.
- Makes you feel like a spy, or Inspector Gadget.
- Runs a bit large, and not as fitted as other trenches out there.
- Putting bulky or heavy items in the pockets looks funny – not really for walking around with!
- It’s easy to forget which pocket you’ve stashed something in – you really need to have a system for this jacket, and it takes a white to figure out where best to put things.
- The stuff in your pockets is only secure as long as you’re wearing the jacket – this is not one that you want to leave draped over a chair when you go to the bathroom, or accidentally leave behind in a bar.
I requested this trench from ScotteVest to review, and although they declined to send me a free one they did offer me a nice discount. These views are however completely honest and entirely my own. The women’s trench is USD$150, and personally I’m very, very happy with it.