Fashion news editor Billie Bhatia bought that ASOS checked trench coat, and this is how it has changed her life.
I am not one of those people that ever really feels the cold. I would like to think it was genetic – my dad sports a short-sleeved shirt all year round – but the reality of the situation is my extra ‘padding’ works as great insulation in the winter months. Probably the one and only bonus of being a fat girl.
Due to such insulation, I have never felt that wave of excitement everyone else does when the cold comes in and you get to buy a new winter coat. I have coats: a Max Mara dark brown cashmere coat I ‘borrowed’ from my mum’s wardrobe and never gave back, a H&M Studio oversized camel coat, and a five-year old ASOS checked coat I have worn exactly once. But, thanks to an ability to get a sweat on in mid-November, coats just aren’t my thing.
Jackets on the other hand? Now we are talking. Bomber jackets, leather jackets, denim jackets, suede tasseled cowboy jackets – you name it, I’ve got it. There is something delightfully playful about a jacket; it’s cool and casual and totally not committal (consider that a brief personality synopsis). As a jacket-wearer you can go to a party and decide to stay and have the night of your life or, deciding Netflix and Deliveroo is a more welcome option, you can ditch the party unnoticed.
If you were wearing a coat, well, that’s a whole different story. You either spend the first 15 minutes of the party queuing for the cloakroom (while your friends are already one drink deep), or you decide to keep it and spend the evening awkwardly dancing around it or holding it while twerking (badly), or keeping it on and sweating the night away.
More than all of the above, jackets just work better with my personal style. I like a sporty aesthetic and a coat seemed too proper, too lady-like for me. That was until every member of the Stylist fashion team walked into the office wearing a trench coat and I got fashion FOMO. Maybe it was collective appeal, or maybe it was a subconscious desire after all the trench coats I had seen on and off the catwalks during show seasons, but I went from never have desired a trench coat to wanting in.
Initially this thought worried me, how was I going to make a knitted midi skirt, hoody and trainers work with a trench coat? Would a trench coat look good with my mostly casual wardrobe? What if my dress or my skirt is longer than the trench coat and I get that weird step hem? What if my clothes come up shorter than the trench coat and I looked naked underneath (but not in an Angelina Jolie in Mr and Mrs Smith kind of way, more like a woman locked out of her house kind of way)?
Then came the question of what kind of trench coat? In case you missed it, trench coats are anything but beige now. Leather, vinyl, checked, ripped, embroidered, with alien satellites attached – the 2019 trench coat is vast and varied. I finally settled on the high street trench coat of the season: ASOS’s checked trench coat that was available in both their main line and curve collections.
Despite being excited by my purchase, it took me two weeks to try the trench coat on, and a further week to finally wear it (I was waiting for temperatures to slip below 10 degrees Celsius – that’s when I really come into my winter wardrobe). I paired the trench with flared black trousers and a simple high-neck black top, and as soon as I slung the coat on I felt different. Is this what it means to feel like an adult? I barely recognised myself in the mirror; for the first time possibly ever I looked like a grown-up. You know the kind; they wake up in the morning and make a matcha oat milk latte, do 20 minutes of yoga and take a packed lunch to work so that they can afford new season Bottega. As opposed to my actual morning routine of rolling out of bed, stumbling into the shower and trying to find a sweatshirt that is something resembling clean.
Feeling suitably like Working Girl’s Tess McGill post-haircut, I walked to work with a spring in my step. The reaction in the Stylist office was overwhelming. “Look at, YOU! So chic,” proclaimed Stylist’s fashion editor, Polly Knight. “Oh my god, that trench, I need it,” said another staffer. Then I took it to the street and within 10 minutes I had three women come up to me and ask me where the trench coat was from.
The more I wore it, the more adult I behaved. Instead of scrolling Instagram at lunch time I sorted out life admin; when I would have been a lazy slob and ordered an Uber home after a work event, I plodded to the tube (and naturally called my mum on the way and told her what a grown-up I was being by getting the tube). I even came home and put a load of washing on, not taking the trench coat off until it was safe to re-enter my teenage space of getting into bed and watching an episode of One Tree Hill (sadly, I am not joking).
When people talk about a piece of clothing changing their lives, I roll my eyes and inwardly think: “Sisterhood of the Travelling Pants isn’t real, hun. A handsome man named Costas won’t help you if you fall into the Aegean sea.” But I was wrong, a piece of clothing can change your life, or at least make you feel like the better version of yourself. Whilst that jacket life and all it encompassed suited me perfectly up until now, maybe it is time to be a bit more serious and act a little bit more grown-up. Luckily, I’ve got just the item of clothing to help make that happen.
Buy the ASOS checked trench coat here.
Images: ASOS / Instagram / Getty