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A trench coat is an enduringly popular item of clothing worn round the world. It is generally made of heavy duty cotton, drill or poplin, and has a lining which can be removed depending on the weather. It is a descendant of the heavy serge coats worn by British, Canadian and French soldiers in World War I. The classical trench coat was a creation of Thomas Burberry, inventor of gabardine fabric, who submitted in 1901 a design for an army officer's raincoat to the UK War Office. That raincoat subsequently became part of the service uniform of British officers. During World War I, the design was modified to include epaulettes, straps, and D-rings. This latter version was dubbed "trench coat" by the soldiers in the trenches. Towards the Second World War, the trench coat became part of all enlisted men's and officers' kits, especially in the American forces: the US Army, US Army Air Corps, and US Marine Corps.

The typical trench coat is a ten buttoned double breasted long tan, khaki, beige or black coat with cuff straps on the sleeves, epaulettes (originally used to hold gloves and folding service caps, such as the Glengarry Bonnet), and a belt that may also have two small brass D-rings as a salute to its military heritage; the rings originally were used to secure grenades, sidearms and/or swords.

Trench coats have remained fashionable over the years. Their genesis as clothing for army officers lent the trench coat a businesslike respectability, whilst fictional heroes as diverse as Dick Tracy, Humphrey Bogart's Sam Spade and Peter Sellers' Inspector Clouseau have kept the coat in the public eye. On a darker note, black leather trench coats were adopted by the Nazi SS as a means of inspiring fear and respect, and the subsequent Hollywood image of the black-clad, trenchcoated Gestapo officer has entered popular culture. The Columbine High School massacre was widely blamed on the Trench Coat Mafia to which its perpetrators were erroneously said to have belonged, and in the wake of the incident several schools in Denver went so far as to ban pupils from wearing trench coats.

The above article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Trench_coat).  5/1/05
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