Monday, 22 June 2009 | Tags:

For most people, a coat is either a necessary evil or a must-have, effortless fashion statement. If you're unsure about how to keep out the cold while looking stylish, we talk to the fashion experts for tips.

The Basics

There isn’t one perfect coat for everyone. Your body shape will determine the best style and cut for you. 

When shopping for a stylish coat appropriate for work or metropolitan outings, think city chic and functional, rather than sporty and practical. 

  • Colour: when in doubt, think neutral. Grey, tan, ivory, brown, navy blue and black are always good choices. But if your wardrobe is already pretty neutral, make a statement with a bright colour like purple, green, red or light blue, and keep everything else toned down.
  • Style: there are a variety of coats to try out, including:

    • The “boyfriend blazer”, which is a men’s style but cut for women with more figure-flattering lines. Works great with skinny jeans, leggings, and simple shoes.

    • Trench coats in wool or a lighter fabric are a classic wardrobe staple that everyone should own. Look for a length that is cut either just below the knee, or above the knee. When going shorter, think about the length of your legs vs. your torso and choose a flattering length (or have it hemmed) to enhance your nature body features.
    • In winter coats, look for a fitted cut and a thin yet warm fabric. The size should be slightly roomy to accommodate for added winter layers in your clothing.

    • For a spring coat, have fun with different fabrics and colours, and stick to slim-fitted cuts.

    • A leather jacket should fit like a suit jacket, close to your body’s contours. If it’s too big, it will just add unwanted visual bulk.

    • Pea coats are great winter coat options. Add a colourful scarf tucked inside the collar for a feminine twist.

    • Barn jackets tend to be square and shapeless. If you must wear one, try a belt.

    • Sweater coats tend to be formless and stretchy. Not the most sophisticated look.

Style Tips

We talked to Holt Renfrew Style Expert Carla Stapp, who helped three Beauty Call volunteers find the right coat for their look. Carla’s tips for choosing the right coat:

  • When it comes to coat length, look at what you’re wearing underneath. If you have a short dress or skirt on, your coat should be a lot longer so that it doesn’t look like you’re missing your pants.

  • As for coat style, look at the rest of your outfit. If your pants are on the baggy side, pick a coat that is slim fitting and lean. A baggy coat would just add extra visual bulk.

  • If you’re petite, choose a coat length that is at the knee or shorter, but be careful where it stops if it is around hip-length. Make sure the hem is either above or below the widest part of your hip area, but not right at it.

  • If you like layers, avoid bulky coats. Instead, choose a thinner fabric coat (like a trench) and layer thin layers underneath.

The three coats Carla says every woman needs are: a clean-lined dressy coat, a trench coat for rainy days, and a casual, fitted coat.

Coats vs. Body Shape

To find the perfect coat for you, think about the shape of your body and choose a coat that highlights your best features while camouflaging any problem areas:

If your body shape is:

  • Strawberry (smaller hips, wider bust/shoulders):

    • Accentuate your waist with pockets and details. Choose fitted shoulders that don’t add volume up top. An A-line style, peplum style, or trench coats with minimal shoulder detail will work great by minimizing shoulders and amplifying hips.

    • Avoid shoulder pads or puffed sleeves.

  • Apple (hips, bust, shoulders all about the same size, little waist definition):

    • Create the impression of curves by choosing styles with princess-cut seams (run vertically from below each breast down through the waist to the hip area), and look for structured shoulders or shoulder detail (pads, buttons, a bit of pouf). Tie a belt to cinch your middle, and look for styles with high armholes, which will lengthen your torso.

    • Avoid boxy jackets (short or long), pea coats, and weak, soft-shouldered jackets with no structure.

  • Pear (smaller shoulders/bust, larger hips):

    • Accentuate your shoulders to balance your hips. Choose strong, structured shoulders with pads or puffed sleeves. Look for horizontal detailing up top; wide lapels help broaden your shoulders. Fabrics like suede, denim, and tweed help add structure.

    • Avoid bulk or detail at the hips, pockets draw attention to hip width; wide hems will draw attention to your mid-section.

  • Hourglass (shoulders and hips the same, waist smaller and well-defined):

    • Jackets with princess seams that hug your figure, as well as trench coats with belts will give you great definition. Look for styles with clearly defined shoulders and a bottom that flares out a bit.

    • Avoid boxy jackets and blazers, any detailing at the waist. Pea coats will also work against your figure, unless they are specifically hourglass-cut.

AVOID wearing multiple coats (e.g. a blazer under a winter coat), which can add thickness and bulk.

  • Instead, wear your winter coat alone and carry your blazer, or choose a winter weight blazer that you can layer underneath with a thin cardigan, or over top with a warm scarf or pashmina. Add a belt for even more punch.



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