"War", Edwin Starr once posed, "what is it good for?" "Absolutely nothing" was the noble and empathetic answer. But if the singer had taken a little time to consider his outerwear options, he might have inserted a caveat or two.
The double-breasted, belted trenchcoat was developed in the First World War to replace bulky serge greatcoats, and while Aquascutum and Burberry both have strong claims that predates this, it was when the soldier's returned with the coat to wear on civvy street that the trench's popularity grew.
Only officers were allowed to wear them, and echoes of military heritage are still there in most designs. The epaulettes were there to attach an insignia, the knee-length style was to protected against rain and mud, while the sleeve buckles stopped water running down the arms while using binoculars - most of which can still prove handy when making your way through Oxford Street on a cold December day.
Soon, the trenchcoat was a onscreen staple, too: see Michael Caine in The Ipcress File, Alain Delon in Le Samourï or best of all, Humphrey Bogart in Casablanca. If you need a man to carry a bit of mystery about him, put him in a trench.
And use it to upgrade pretty much any look, too. Whether it's slotted over off-duty knitwear, or adding noirish enigma to a suit, every man really ought to have one in his Autumn / Winter arsenal. Here are 10 of the best from this season.