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What's the Difference Between an Overcoat, a Topcoat, and a Trench Coat?

Initially, I’d planned to write about caring for your overcoat, but as I started researching the topic, I realized that what I thought was an overcoat actually wasn’t an overcoat at all. In fact, what I thought was an overcoat, a garment reserved for men only, is actually a trench coat. It seems that I’m not the only misguided person out there; I conducted an informal poll with a few folks I know, and they thought as I did.

What is an Overcoat and when was it invented?

The overcoat was created in the late 18th century as a part of a gentleman’s wardrobe. It was designed to wear with a men’s suit or some other formal wear and often designated the wearer’s status in society or in the military.

What’s the difference between an Overcoat, a Topcoat, and a Trench Coat?

Overcoat – A long-sleeved coat that falls below the knee made from a heavy fabric like wool. It can be single- or double-breasted and typically has a single vent in the back. Wool is water-resistant and can hold 20% of its weight in water before feeling wet.

Topcoat – A topcoat is a lighter-weight and shorter version of the overcoat, never going below the knee

Trench Coat – This coat was developed during WWI because the greatcoats (a heavy, thick, cumbersome, woolen coat) soldiers were wearing were too awkward and cumbersome. The trench coat was shorter in length and made from fabrics that were lightweight but still weather resistant.

Today’s Trench Coats can be made from a variety of fabrics, but many are made with cotton gabardine or a cotton-polyester blend and are considered water resistant.

Now, let’s finally get down to caring for your Trench Coat.

1. When cleaning, follow the directions on the care label.
2. Before putting it away, make sure it is completely dry.
3. Water resistant finishes can be applied to clean coats, and that’s something that A Cleaner World can do for you. To learn more, just stop by your nearest location and speak with the manager.

trench coat
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