Burberry Kensington Vs. Chelsea Trench Coats: Which One To Buy?


I’ve been staring at (drooling over?) Burberry’s classic khaki trench coats for my entire adult life. I even tried them on — just to see — several years ago to see how the Burberry Trench Coat Aesthetic worked on me, but I had a hard time justifying the cost. I wasn’t totally convinced that I was a trench-coat kind of girl.

Fast-forward five-ish years, and yes: I am abso-freaking-lutely a trench-coat kind of girl.

Deciding Between 2 Classic Burberry Trench Coats: Which Is The Best?

Maybe it's the fact that I'm in my 40s, or that my style is ever-evolving into simpler silhouettes, but I couldn't stop thinking about the Burberry trench coats I tried on all of those years ago.

Maybe it’s the fact that I’m in my 40s, or maybe it’s the fact that my style seems to be ever-evolving into simpler silhouettes, but I couldn’t stop thinking about the Burberry trench coats I tried on all of those years ago.

And then there was that outfit from “Emily in Paris.” The one where her boss strode into a hotel lobby like, well, a boss, wearing an emerald-green gown with her long trench coat casually thrown over top.

That was it for me. My sartorial life goal can now be summarized as: buy trench coat, wear with gown.

So, I started (and, frankly, ended) my search with Burberry. It turns out Burberry has tweaked its trench-coat line in the past few years, and for me, it came down to two real possibilities: Burberry’s classic Kensington trench coat versus the newer Chelsea trench coat.

Let’s discuss.

In the past, I determined that Burberry trench coats were not worth the cost, but...the cheaper 1 I went with got donated.

Are Burberry Trench Coats Worth The Cost?

It’s virtually impossible for one person to tell another person whether or not a $2K coat is “worth the cost.” There’s a level of ridiculousness here that I’ve gotta acknowledge. That said, for those who have always wondered about Burberry trench coats, let me get into the nitty-gritty a bit, so you can better decide for yourself.

(And for those of you looking for lower-cost options…I do have several on order and plan on following up this article with a comparison post. FWIW, the last time I did a comparison, I determined that Burberry was not worth the cost, but…the lower-cost option I kept instead eventually got donated. In hindsight, I may have been better off with the Burberry.)

While Burberry specifies that these trench coats are not, technically, waterproof, I've heard they do hold up well, even in a downpour

Here’s a rundown of my initial list of questions when evaluating whether Burberry trench coats are worth the cost:

Are they waterproof? Both the Burberry Chelsea and Kensington trench coats are made from 100% cotton gabardine, a fabric that’s woven specifically for its water-resistant properties. While the brand specifies that these coats are not, technically, waterproof, I’ve heard they do hold up well, even in a downpour. Furthermore, Burberry offers a “trench refresh” where you can drop off your trench at a Burberry store, and they’ll reapply the eco-coating to keep the waterproofing fresh. Burberry recommends doing this every two years, if possible, or after about three dry cleans.

Can you wash them? These trench coats are dry-clean only (but I’ll probably spot-clean mine). Also, keep in mind that because the fabric is so tightly woven, most liquids should just roll right off, hopefully negating the need for a ton of cleaning.

Do they come in different lengths? Both the Burberry Chelsea trench and the Kensington trench are available — on the Burberry website — in short, regular or long lengths. The lengths (for both) are based on a size 6, and they’re as follows:

  • Short is 33.5 inches, as measured from shoulder to hem.
  • Regular is 37.4 inches, as measured from shoulder to hem.
  • Long is 41.3 inches, as measured from shoulder to hem.

Based on a quick peruse of the Burberry trench-coat selection at Saks and Nordstrom…if you need a short or long length, those only seem to be reliably stocked at Burberry.com. Most retailers carry the “regular” length, which is what I’m wearing in this article (and, in fact, the length I’m keeping — I’m 5’3″ for reference).

How’s the fit? One of the first things I notice about Burberry trench coats is their impeccable tailoring. The shoulders fit perfectly, the seams line up, there are no loose buttons or threads, and the lining is comfortable. The overall drape and line of these coats are perfection. The experience of slipping on a Burberry trench coat is a very luxe experience. This is an incredibly well-made piece.

Burberry Chelsea Trench Coat vs. Burberry Kensington Trench Coat

So, now that we’ve gotten the basics out of the way…which exact style is best? There are two that I had my eye on the most:

Burberry’s Chelsea trench (on the left in the photos below) versus Burberry’s Kensington trench (on the right in the photos below)

I tried them both on with my most-worn, tried-and-true outfit: jeans, tee, sneaks, done.

Chelsea trench (6) | Kensington trench (6) | similar jeans (27) | tee (S) | sneakers

It’s important to note that these two trench coats are *almost* indistinguishable. They both come in the exact same range of colors, they’re both made from 100% cotton gabardine, they both have the exact same Burberry details, and they both come in multiple lengths.

The silhouette is basically the only difference.

The Chelsea (left) has a more fitted silhouette through the shoulders, a nipped-in waist and an almost-skirted bottom. The net result is that of a perfectly tailored coat.

The Kensington (right) has a little more room in the shoulders and arms, and it’s cut a little straighter throughout the body (a more classic trench-coat style). Because of the impeccable tailoring, however, the net result is a little slouchy-cool, rather than too oversized, rumpled and messy.

Chelsea trench (6) | Kensington trench (6) | similar jeans (27) | tee (S) | sneakers

Both coats have storm flaps and gold D-ring attachments to the belt. This means you can wear the coat open and let the belt hang without worrying that it’ll slide out and get lost. These D-ring attachments hold it in place.

I also appreciate the button-down pockets, so nothing gets lost accidentally.

Chelsea trench (6) | Kensington trench (6) | similar jeans (27) | tee (S) | sneakers

The Burberry Trench Coats…With A Silk Dress

Because my life goals now include being the sort of person who dons trench coats with fancy dresses…voila. A trench coat + fancy dress.

Chelsea trench (6) | Kensington trench (6) | dress (6) | similar shoes

Call me crazy, but I actually think I like the looser, slouchier shape of the Kensington better with the dress. Yes?

Chelsea trench (6) | Kensington trench (6) | dress (6) | similar shoes

The Burberry Trench Coats…With A Sweater

OK. Here’s the big test. The Chelsea trench (left) is much narrower through the shoulders and body, and I was worried it wouldn’t fit over a sweater. Well. I was…wrong? While I couldn’t fully extend my arms above my head (ha!), it did fit much better than I expected.

Chelsea trench (6) | Kensington trench (6) | sweater (s) | jeans (27) – more sizes here | similar boots

In fact, these photos really show the difference in fit. The Chelsea (left) has a much more tailored look and feel. The Kensington (right) still looks great, though! It’s just not quite as tailored or sharp as the Chelsea.

Chelsea trench (6) | Kensington trench (6) | sweater (S) | jeans (27) — more sizes here | similar boots

But just because the Chelsea (above left) fits — technically — over a sweater, it doesn’t mean there aren’t issues. The extra bulk of the sweater does make the jacket pull across my bust/middle, something you can see in the photo (below left). However, when I belted the Chelsea (below right), the pulling was completely disguised.

Chelsea trench (6)

So, which one to choose??? There’s no doubt that the Chelsea is a really gorgeous trench coat with street-style vibes and a very flattering cut. But I am concerned about its practicality, given that it already seems to be straining across the shoulders (even with a tee — go see the photos) and across the midsection when I’m wearing a sweater.

The Kensington is also gorgeous (though a little slouchier), and while I do love how it looks with a dress, it’s easy to get tempted by the sharp lines of the Chelsea.

In the end, I called Burberry. I wanted to double-check some of the waterproofing details anyway, and since my call had been connected to some lovely sounding woman who obviously had put her own Burberry trench through its paces, I thought I’d ask her opinion on my dilemma. “I have the Chelsea,” she said, without hesitation. “For me, the sharp tailoring and clean lines were the most important.”

“Oooo…so you recommend I keep the Chelsea, then?” I asked.

There was a brief moment of silence. “Well…” she said. “If it’s cold where you live, then I think you might be happier with the Kensington. Sometimes when I try to wear sweaters, not only is my trench tight across the shoulders, it’s actually a little tighter in the sleeves too.”


I hung up, cut off the tags, and the Burberry Kensington is now mine.

If there are any trench coats out there that you want me to compare to Burberry’s Kensington trench, let me know. I just ordered Barbour’s Greta Waterproof Trench (it’s a little shorter), and I remember being impressed the last time I did this with London Fog’s trench (although its Burberry-lookalike is no longer available). I also know Laura loves J.Crew’s Icon trench, and it does look very similar (comes in two lengths, with water-repellent fabric too).

More to come!


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