You stock up on your favorite tees. You have plenty of white button-downs. You own your preferred jeans in multiple washes. But when it comes to a trench, you only need one (a black leather moto jacket is the same in that regard).
There's a reason that it has stuck around for so long, even a century after its time in the trenches during World War I: It exudes a level of utilitarian cool (thanks to its epaulettes and double-breasted buttons), its water-resistant cotton gabardine material is the perfect weight for awkward in-between temps, and its shape-shifting silhouette (a hybrid of structure and fluidity) gives it the versatility to be worn countless ways.
To that end, we present three new trench-centric styling ideas that go beyond the expected tee-and-jeans combo. Put an athleisure spin on yours with sporty separates, or drag it down off the shoulders to expose a knit layer underneath—just like the Balenciaga runway. Give your classic trench new life with our brilliant outfits, below.
1. Give It a Sporty Streak
Seamlessly transition from working out to running errands with a few fashion swaps: a minimalist army green trench, a hands-free purse, and fresh kicks.
Shop the look: Topshop hoodie, $45; topshop.com. Etoile Isabel Marant trench coat, $615; net-a-porter.com. Tory Sport leggings, $125; torysport.com. Mansur Gavriel crossbody bag, $595; bergdorfgoodman.com. Veja shoes, $130; garmentory.com.
2. Drag It Off the Shoulder
Take a cue from the Balenciaga runway and turn your trench into an off-the-shoulder jacket, dragged down to create an open neckline that you can add to with statement drop earrings and a sleek turtleneck sweater.
Shop the look: Uniqlo turtleneck, $20; uniqlo.com. Faris earrings, $198; farisfaris.com. Zara trench coat, $169; zara.com. AMO jeans, $255; modaoperandi.com. Madewell clutch, $50; madewell.com. Tory Burch booties, $395; toryburch.com.
3. Swap the Belt
Up the edge by trading the trench's belt for a black leather one—a new way to break up matching checked separates.
Shop the look: Theory top, $345; theory.com. Raey trench coat, $925; matchesfashion.com. Theory pants, $365; theory.com. H&M belt, $13; hm.com. Creatures of Comfort bag, $380; creaturesofcomfort.us. VC John Camuto booties, $225; vincecamuto.com.