EST. 2009

April 28, 2021

That Strong Staple

DEVELOPED FOR SOLDIERS IN THE FIRST WORLD WAR, the trench coat transcended its original purpose to become a timeless and fashionable wardrobe staple. Cinema reflects the fact, with countless iconic characters wearing the garment through film history.

In Robert Benson's 1979 screen adaptation of Avery Corman's Kramer vs. Kramer, Meryl Streep and Dustin Hoffman both appear in trench coats at different points in their story of separation. The wardrobe choice feels significant, as the film touches on gender roles and the rights of women, juxtaposed with the rights of fathers, as well as the inherent hostility of custody battles. 

Particularly for Streep's character, Joanna is first seen packing her trench coat rather than wearing it. She is only shown wearing her coat once she returns to town, having regained her lost self esteem. Kramer vs. Kramer almost treats the garment as a symbol of strength, that both characters draw upon through their difficult experience.

I first saw Kramer vs. Kramer in a Screen Art class back in university. I loved it then, and I love it now, for its low-key artistry, touching themes, and brilliant acting. Might I also mention the superb styling.

The trench coat as a staple in my own wardrobe:

This spring, I acquired a new trench coat to see me through the volatile British transition into summer. Though I wear it with much less symbolism than the characters in films do, the piece is ever iconic, and gives the appearance of strength. Strong ladies represent!

Kramer vs. Kramer, 1979. Directed by Robert Benson. Trench coat from