Back in 2009, I wrote a post on how to fit a coat that is just as relevant today. My guidelines suggest that you think about a versatile and flattering length, and what you can layer underneath the coat. You should check sleeve lengths, your mobility in the coat, ensure a flattering shape of collar, and make sure the coat can comfortably close to protect you from the elements.
If you live in a four season climate, or cold weather is your dominant season, there is no one coat to rule them all. You’ll need a capsule of coats across a range of lengths, thicknesses and levels of dressiness. And some (like me) will need a good dose of non-neutrals in their coat capsule to make them smile in the dead of Winter.
Here I’m expanding on my 2009 post to go into more detail on the length and width fit of a coat, because they are more important than you might think. I’ll cover lengths today and widths later in the week, showcasing my own coats as examples. Note that all but one of the dark coats are ink blue, and not black.
Coats come in many lengths. From short hip-grazing silhouettes to mid-calf maxis, and everything in-between. The point is that you’ll prefer the proportions and practicality of some coat lengths more than others when you use them in an outfit.
Personally, I find a knee-length coat the most versatile, elegant, elongating and insulating. Some hit me just above or on the knee cap whereas others cover my knees. The longer length creates flattering and tidy proportions over dresses, skirts and culottes that are shorter or a similar length to the coat. Knee-length coats also look great over full-length and cropped trousers and jeans. I find calf-length and ankle length maxi coats overwhelming on my slight frame, so I steer clear of those. Here are my knee-length coats across a range of dress codes and colours.
Mid-thigh coats are a versatile length for my style because they look fab over full-length or cropped pants and jeans which I wear most of the time. I generally don’t like them as much with skirts and dresses, but have worn them that way. Here are my mid-thigh length coats across a range of dress codes and colours.
Upper-thigh length coats that are shorter than mid-thigh but longer than hip length are the least versatile and flattering to my eye. To create flattering outfit proportions, I usually prefer a coat to be longer or shorter than upper-thigh length so that the hem does not cut across the widest part of my thighs. I am careful with these proportions, liking them best layered over a column of colour, a tonal outfit, or when I’m wearing a bit of a heel. I never wear this length with dresses and skirts. The length is very practical for driving, taking public transport, wearing in milder Winter weather, and hanging over a chair in a restaurant. Here are my upper-thigh length coats across a range of dress codes and colours.
Last, there’s the hip-length cropped coat or outerwear jacket. I find this length almost as versatile as my knee-length coats, but not as insulating. Hip-length outerwear can work well over dresses, skirts, culottes, and all sorts of full-length or cropped pants and jeans because it lengthens the leg line from the hip down. Here are my hip- length coats across a range of dress codes and colours. Some of the items are technically jackets, but I’ve included them because they form part of my outerwear capsule.
Your preferences for coat lengths and outfit proportions may differ from mine for all sorts of reasons. Lengths are my thing so I’m pedantic about them, and it’s the reason I have a variety of lengths covered in my coat capsule. Feel free to ask questions about coat lengths in the comments section.