Searching for the perfect trench coat can land you in the, well, trenches. Like many wardrobe staples, it’s oddly difficult to perfect. Ultimately, the trench coat has to protect against the elements while also being chic. Yet mainstream women’s trenches come up short, quite literally. The hems are too short. (They skim the butt.) The fabric is often too flimsy. (Who wants to be shrouded by something paper-thin?) And that’s not to mention the oddball flourishes. (A ruffled collar? No, thank you.) If you go the vintage route, many of the trench coats are made for men, which seem stellar in theory but end up fitting too chunky and loose.
So what is a girl to do? The designer Thakoon Panichgul—founder of HommeGirls, the boy-meets-girl magazine, Instagram account, and label “dedicated to women who shop the men’s department”—has the answer. Panichgul was initially inspired by a London Fog trench coat from the ’70s he found at a vintage shop in Queens. He combined that men’s trench with his outerwear muse—Meryl Streep in Kramer vs. Kramer (1979)—and came up with a piece that is quintessentially classic. Crafted from a heavier twill, it is double-breasted with an XL collar, epaulets, and a large storm flap on the left shoulder, a detail that is sometimes omitted from mainstream women’s trench coats. Like all pieces from HommeGirls, the trench coat is fitted on men and then tweaked for a women’s proportions. “You want the look to be like you stole it from your man,” says Panichgul. “But in everyday practice you want it to fit for you.”
In this case, Panichgul kept the men’s tailoring almost everywhere, leaving the coat long for an ’80s feel but keeping the shoulders smaller. “You don’t want to touch the waist!” says Panichgul. “The reasonable HommeGirl doesn’t want her waist fitted.” The long length is to evoke an almost flasher feel. “I love the idea of a HommeGirl wearing a trench with nothing underneath,” he says. “It gives a mystique, and it brings out the seduction a bit more when it looks like you’re swimming in a trench coat.”
The trench coat is just the tip of the design iceberg for Panichgul. The HommeGirl’s closet is already stocked with exquisitely tailored pinstripe shirts and a black wool coat, and Panichgul is working on a rugby shirt. These designs are a pursuit of the HommeGirl philosophy, which Panichgul refers to as “taking a part of men-isms and seeing how it plays out for women.” Sounds sensible and chic—no frills attached.