New Trench, or Old?

Hi, all. I need some help with making a decision.

Mr. Suz is celebrating a significant birthday this year and we are going on our first longer trip since 2019! We will be travelling to London (UK) for 10 days mid-to-end of May. I'm starting to put together a capsule of items I might (might!) bring, incomplete of course and in flux at this point. I will be watching weather and thinking about our specific activities and adding/ subtracting items as seems fit. So far, plans include museums, theatre, lots and lots and lots of walking, and of course lots of eating! We may or may not take a day trip or two. 

This trip being to the UK, I think a trench coat is in order. I own 3 trenches. One, a short Theory in black (gift of a lovely fabber many years ago!) is not in consideration. My other two trenches are a very old black London Fog (one of my first YLF purchases) and a newer cobalt trench from Hobbs. 

Both are very classic. They are approximately the same just-below-knee length on me. The Hobbs is more fitted under the arm than the London Fog. It is also a more substantial fabric. The London Fog is roomier in the skirt portion also, with a slightly wider vent in the back. Both are water resistant, not waterproof. 

I am showing them both layered over the thickest sweater I would probably bring (which is itself layered over a shirt). I also tried the Hobbs over a tweed jacket, and it works, but isn't ideally comfortable. 

My first question is, which one of these do you think I would do best to bring? 

My second question is: should I consider the purchase of a more current type of trench to bring instead, i.e. a slightly oversized one that would layer more easily? I think at my size/ height  I need to be careful with oversized coats, but I would love some extra dramatic length, and I have long wanted a lighter coloured trench coat. I have been looking for less expensive versions -- one very well reviewed at Oak & Fort (but it is polyester, hmmm), and one from Mango. I might be able to wear the stone colours (rather than yellow beige). 

I would also consider a new navy trench if I found the right one.  My hesitation is that although trench coats are a slam dunk for my style and I adore them, I tend not to wear them much! This is due to my suburban lifestyle. When I lived in a more urban setting, I wore them all the time. Having said that, I would happily donate the black trench in favour of a new navy or lighter coloured one. It is very old but still looks pristine and it has served me well. It would serve another person who wears black better for many years more. 

I'm showing in #1 just the sweaater/ pants and then some jackets I also tried to layer. 

#4-10 show the blue layered with various items, but mostly the thick sweater. 

#11-14 show the black London Fog. 

I would love to hear any thoughts you might have. And if anyone has seen a fantastic slightly oversized trench in a lighter cool tone or navy, let me know! 

Ah, wait, final option would be a more casual type of coat to replace/ upgrade my beloved J. Crew long utility coat which I adore but which is really showing its age. 

This post is also published in the youlookfab forum. You can read and reply to it in either place. All replies will appear in both places.


  • Star replied 4 months ago

    I don't know about practicality and have never been to the UK, but the cobalt blue is the hands down winner for me.  It lights you up.

  • Star replied 4 months ago

    As for question 2, I realise stone is better than beige, but still will not match up to the cobalt.  Plus you already know over sized is not the best for you, and will not get that much wear in your current environment.  With regard to polyester in a trench, that is not such a bad thing is it (in outerwear)?  

  • Katerina replied 4 months ago

    First of all let me say how great you look, Suz, in all the pictures. The short jackets are gorgeous on you. And the coats. As for the coats, I really like both of them equally, it is very hard to pick a favorite. The blue is a stunning color on you, and the black is very chic…. Based on what you said about the black being a little roomier and thus easier to layer under, I would perhaps take the black one.

  • missvee replied 4 months ago

    The cobalt trench is fantastic on you - colour and cut are both so flattering.  I would take this one for sure.  It sounds like you’re still undecided about a new coat so why not wait until you’re in London and check out the styles in the shops there.  We were in London last month and I was very impressed with Seasalt, a brand that sells truly waterproof coats in excellent quality fabrics.  Marks and Spencer carried the line.

  • Runcarla replied 4 months ago

    You say you don’t wear trench coats a lot, so don’t buy a new one, rather give one you own a good workout on this trip.  I would say the cobalt because the colour is amazing, and it’s going to be May.  With climate change, etc. that month could be warm - so ‘colour’!  The black does look like it has more ease for layering, though.  I don’t think you could step wrong with either of these.

    I’d avoid an overly light coloured outer layer, cause it’s likely to show any accidental dirt more so than the darker colours.  Even water droplets or a bit of spilt coffee or tea.* That said, I travelled (mid to end of May) with a lilac coat.  However, the material is more like a raincoat and droplets just rolled off.  I did throw it in the wash as soon as I got home, though!

    FWIW, I packed mostly lightweight sweaters, and there were days when I was moving about, and definitely over warm.  Pic below is snapped from my comment in the thread written after the trip.

    *on the flight over, the woman next to DH upended her entire dinner drink onto his pants leg, effectively taking those pants out of circulation for the entirety of the trip! 

  • Ket replied 4 months ago

    I love how the blue makes your face glow and shine! BUT... I dont' think you can go wrong with either coat. You look enviably chic in both coats. I have aaaaalllll the trench coat envy right now...

    I'm also an enabler. So maybe you need a new trench coat to commemorate the trip with? ;) xo

  • Janet replied 4 months ago

    Oh the blue is just too gorgeous on you to choose anything else! I agree with Carla — if you don’t wear them that often, I wouldn’t invest in another.

    I also love the trench coat vibe, but rarely wear mine (I have just one, a teal Burberry I bought in the first year I was on YLF, so it’s probably 12-13 years old and still in perfect condition!). Lifestyle plays a part, for sure. I also tend to reach for my less classic coats, but sometimes a trench is just the right thing.

  • Angie replied 4 months ago

    As a trench lover and wearer, Suz, I'll start by saying that these lengths are perfect. I wear mine at the knee, like this, and feel 100% current! FWIW, no need to go maxi like our wool coats. Knee-length is long enough! 

    The cobalt is the KILLER colour on you. Hands down!!! No contest!

    All that said, these trenches don't have hoods! At least I don't think the London Fog has a hood? I know the Hobbs one doesn't cause I have the navy. I never wear my trench that does not have a hood. I only wear the two that do! 

    So there is that.....

    I think you'd wear a trench with a hood a LOT more. I vote get one of those for your trip and for home :) 

  • Lee replied 4 months ago

    I love 1-3 and the black trench.
    What a fun trip that will be!

  • Dee replied 4 months ago

    The cobalt blue Hobbs is terrific on you, and I personally would not buy another trench since it currently has limited use in your wardrobe and you already have three. Pack a small umbrella instead, if you’re concerned about rain, and you may find another outerwear option to buy in the U.K. as a souvenir.

  • Jaime replied 4 months ago

    Hmm, this is tough. I love the cobalt color on you but the black one is perhaps a bit more current and practical being slightly oversized. Do you like blending in with the locals or standing out?

  • Sal replied 4 months ago

    These are both terrific on you! I lean to the cobalt as I think layering over a light sweater is more likely than over a jacket.

    But they both work well!

    I would also take a cap to wear if it rains or for some sun protection - I think they are a useful addition to a travel capsule.

    In terms of a new jacket I lean to something different than a trench. I love trenches but they are most suited to an urban life - when I walked my sons to school and kindergarten they got a lot of use but now I walk more for exercise and work from home or drive or bike to work they are hard to wear.

    I added this bomber late last year on sale for casual outings or layering. I hope it works as that windproof third piece.

  • phoebe replied 4 months ago

    I'm in the northeastern US, it's only February and I'm already going no darker than navy blue and charcoal. My choice would have been blue or new for May, just for the color, which might sound extravagant but Angie is so right about the hood!

    I'm going to start looking for this very item myself!

  • harmonica replied 4 months ago

    The cobalt trench is stunning, both colour and fit. How exciting isn't it to experience the UK in spring :-) Weather can vary a lot and I would keep an eye on the weather forecast in the days before your travel.

  • SarahD8 replied 4 months ago

    I would plan on the cobalt (agree with others that the color is absolutely stunning on you), and if, as the trip draws closer, the weather looks like it is really going to be chilly and you will require heavier under-layers, swap it out for the black London Fog.

    I don't think I'd purchase a new trench just for this trip, given the style's limited use for your current lifestyle (unless you happened upon something totally smashing secondhand!). Save your money for some really outstanding souvenir that *will* get lots of wear in your real life.

    But, maybe you could look for a spring scarf that includes both cobalt and black in the pattern, and could go with you to tie your outerwear look together regardless of which trench you end up taking? Because I bet you'd get lots of wear out of that at home too.

  • Rejoiceandbe replied 4 months ago

    Are you looking to blend in with the locals or stand out during your trip? For what it's worth, this is what I notice when I visit the UK ( about 4 times a year).
    If it's to blend in then there are 3 approaches to outerwear.
    1. Woolen long coats.
    2.Barbour style rain gear.
    3. Puffer coat or vest
    If it's to stand out, then your blue coat worn unbelted is probably the way to go.
    Practically speaking, there sometimes aren't as many coat checks in public buildings as you might find in Canada, so consider "squashability" and portability as factors in your choice of coat. If you are worried about getting rained on, bring a small folding umbrella that can go in your handbag.
    Enjoy your trip planning!

  • Roberta replied 4 months ago

    I am with most of the crowd, I absolutely love that cobalt blue trench coat. But, Angie has a very good point about the hood. I just bought a deep purple London Fog trench with a hood on eBay for $25. So I put that out as an option if you think you have the time to look there or Poshmark.

  • Rejoiceandbe replied 4 months ago

    To help with your wardrobe travel planning, keeping mind the climate in London and in Vancouver in May are usually very similar.

  • Brooklyn replied 4 months ago

    Exciting! I vote cobalt too. You look stunning and I think the colour will be better suited to Spring. I like the idea of looking for a lighter coat while in the UK if time permits.

  • unfrumped replied 4 months ago

    I love the blue for color. The black style looks great and is chic but a little…black. If it layers better I think I’d keep it at least, fof other similar travel situations.

    I have bed extremely bad about shopping just before trips, rather than making do , and results are hit & miss. For Ireland I bought a Marmot rain shell in a great oyster color, but then, the rains there were brief, mist, not drenching. But, it does make md agree that even though “ a trench” is classic and dashing, you may well do better thinking beyond the trench, to a different more utility style but not TOO gear-ish. More lightweight & rainproof & with hood, and not so warm itself, hence easier to “ squash” & rely on clothing layers once under cover.

    I get the hood caution, so you could end up shopping before trip, because there’s time to order things to try, but I’d so try not to settle or have “ trip goggles”. It might even be worth it to do the rain hat/ brolly thing. Shopping there is a great idea but again, for major purchases ( not so much the $$$, but, trying on at home, mulling, being able to return), sometimes it’s pressure/ FOMO.

    For a light color, I like the idea of lavender , not too pastel, as being very versatile with your palette, and not worrying about fitting in to other countries’ fashion ( well, there’s always Italy..), but may be impractical for travel.

  • Suz replied 4 months ago

    Thank you all for your thoughtful counsel. This is helpful! It seems like the cobalt is in the lead, and I think I'm inclined in that direction, too. 
    Carla, I actually looked up your old posts from last year and saw that you brought your lilac coat but rarely had to wear it. I'm hoping we'll get lucky with the weather, too, that way. Still, best to have something in hand for showers and cooler mornings and nights. 

    Rejoiceandbe, yes, I'm counting on similar weather to my own, which does make packing easier. It is a bit warmer here in Victoria, but very close. As for whether I prefer to stand out or blend in, I'm indifferent. Either works for me if I am happy in what I am wearing. Since Hobbs is a British brand, I expect I might see someone wearing a similar coat, even if in a more subdued colour...

    Re a hood -- yes, well. ;) That may be one reason (but not the only reason) I wear my old J. Crew utility coat so often. So I will be on the lookout for a similar type of coat. In the meantime, I do have foldable umbrellas and also a fun little matching rain hat! (I will take pics later). 

    Very good point about squashability, Rejoiceandbe. I had been thinking of that, too. I'm going to experiment a bit and see if my cobalt coat will fit into my tote should I want to carry it about. 

    SarahDB, nice idea to look for a scarf that includes cobalt and bits of black. I actually have one that comes close (it's got ink, not black...and it's not really cobalt but there are brighter blues in it). 

    Thanks, harmonica! And yes, I will keep an eye on the forecasts. 

    Phoebe, it sounds like you share my ennui with darks as the sky lightens. 

    Sal, that's a great bomber. I love my J. Crew untility coat and would love to get another just like it! It's been the best thing ever. But I do prefer knee length or longer for possible rain. 

    Jaime, thanks. I guess black always blends, doesn't it. And might be safer on the tube. But I like the colour of the cobalt....

    Dee, thanks for enabling some possible shopping in the UK! :) 

    Thank you Angie, Janet, Ket. It's interesting how a colour can just work, right? And how different it can make an item look? I knew when I saw that Hobbs coat on sale 2 years ago around my birthday that it was going to be my gift to myself. Even if I don't wear trenches as often as I would like, I might as well have one good quality one in a fab colour. As yours sounds, Janet! 

    Thank you to all of you (even if I didn't name you, I very much appreciate your thoughts). I think my decision for now will be to bring the cobalt and my rain hat and umbrella and consider a bit of shopping for a dupe for my utility coat -- or something I haven't yet imagined. :) 

  • Runcarla replied 4 months ago

    Check out this London street style YouTube video for funsies.  

    There’s a new video at least weekly!

  • Kyle replied 4 months ago

    Without reading the other comments, here’s what I think, Suz.
    First, I would not buy a new trench if you already have two and don’t wear them much. Both of them look great on you. My heart is with the cobalt. It’s gorgeous. And, I mean, blue is a slam dunk for you. But for travel, and so much walking, I will always vote for ease and comfort. So I would take the black trench and save your $$ for a special find from London.

  • JAileen replied 4 months ago

    The blue one is so pretty on you, and your hair is just gorgeous.  Honestly, I would take a waterproof jacket not a water resistant one.  Others will know the weather better than me.

  • Jenni NZ replied 4 months ago

    I immediately loved the cobalt on you rather than the black which looks (to me) more boring in comparison. But it could well be very personal since cobalt is probably now my favourite colour for a few years.
    I have not been to the UK since 2010 and so forget what the weather is like, though from living there twice for over 6 months each time I remember a lot of rain!
    I’m not suggesting buying a new trench, again very personal, but concerned you might not end up wearing it much.

  • Echo replied 4 months ago

    First, between the two you have posted here, there is no real choice at all because the cobalt is SO flattering on you. The color really does light you up and it just coordinates better with YOU.

    However, you seem to really be hesitating over having a stone or lighter color, so I vote you wait until the perfect one finds you instead of choosing one that is "good enough" for the trip. You may find the perfect one in London, after all. I say that if the one you own is serviceable, use that until you find the one you cannot live without. Don't settle.

  • Sheryl replied 4 months ago

    Have you tried searching on Ebay and Poshmark for a duplicate of your long downtown field jacket?  I believe they show up there sometimes.

  • DonnaF replied 4 months ago

    FWIW, DH likes me to wear bright colors in a crowd so he doesn’t lose me. So the cobalt unless the weather is forecasted to be unusually cold.

  • Bijou replied 4 months ago

    The cobalt gets my vote and I think it will be a very valuable addition to your holiday wardrobe. I went to London in June 2015 and thought I was slightly mad for throwing in my trench into my suitcase. It ended up being worn almost daily! 

  • Mirjana replied 4 months ago

    I vote cobalt blue, gorgeous on you. You really don't need to think about anything else. That trenchcoat absolutely works.

  • rachylou replied 4 months ago

    I swear by London Fog for the UK, but my one had a zip in liner and of course was ankle length, lol. The cobalt colour is super fantastic on you — and you say it’s more substantial? I’d say go with that one. I find England to be like SF, it’s not really that cold and yet…

  • Joy replied 4 months ago

    It will rain on you and black is good for London. Take an old black one with you If you are packing in a carry on remember that the trench may also be your robe and must be water proof. You will live in it. Take a cashmere sweater that will fit over other tops you have packed. It may be cold. Take or wear short boots. It helps if they are waterproof. You will incounter big puddles crossing streets.

  • replied 4 months ago

    Blue gets my vote too! Love it on you!

  • Gail replied 4 months ago

    I love the blue on you too . I am currently on the hunt for a raincoat with a hood and some kind of zip in lining , it's proving hard to find as I would like a bright color.!

  • lyn67 replied 4 months ago

    Your trenches are all fab cut and color(the cobalt!!!wow!!).
    That been said I don't know if it's 100% true but speaking about weather in UK  I am always reminded that end of May there is already kind of summer-in terms of  girls wearing bare legs under skirts and dresses as early as possible! So do you really need a trench?  I hooded raincoat/light packable puffer over the other jackets you'll bring will probably also do. And maybe even lighter, easy layers for under, too.
    Still I very much  understand the need of a lighter trenchcoat---I longed for the perfect one for more than a decade (as I too had my perfect version in black at first). A girl needs options and I am convinced a lighter one will earn it's money back. Mine is now a saturated mid beige (makes a lot of difference to the paler pastel beiges I tried in the past) and I love wearing it over my darks a lot (usually black sheers with skirts and dresses) or dark cigarette pants.
    And, Angie is so right- it doesn't have to be oversized- little under knee length is more functional IMHO for the warmer weather(and a hood would be great of course). Maybe you'll find one for yourself in London!

  • notsaf replied 4 months ago

    More love for cobalt! Black will feel dark in May (ditto -- I think -- the tweed jacket you're thinking about), when the sun can be quite strong, even if it's still coolish, and there can be cold days. You will be unlucky if you have lots of heavy rain. Have a wonderful trip!

  • Suz replied 4 months ago

    Ok. I appreciate all the input here -- you have all given thoughtful comments. 

    I will be watching the weather and taking hte cobalt coat (most probably). I agree that weather can be getting warmer in mid to late May and I may have no need for a coat at all -- but just in case, and especially for evenings, which are much cooler -- better to be prepared. As the time gets closer I will prepare a travel capsule. I'm thinking it might be similar to the one I took for San Francisco last August. But we'll see! 

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