Tips for How to Choose a Winter Coat


I was asked by a reader the other day for help choosing winter coats.  Here are a few tips.

choosing coats


Clockwise from top left:

Show off a defined waist with a belted coat like a trench – great for X, A and 8 shapes.

If you are petite, keep your coat knee length or shorter and not too voluminous so it doesn’t swamp you.

If you have wider hips avoid pocket detail on them, look for coats like the one top right that is free of detail around them, but instead has detail around the face to draw your attention up – great for A, X, H, I shapes.

Double breasted styles work better on those with smaller top halves, like As and Is

Coats with collar detail work great for Os and Hs, not so great for Vs.

Lots of waist shaping works well on 8s, As and Xs.

What is your favourite winter coat like?


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  • ACK!! Too hot to be thinking about winter coats!! I'd love to feel the cold enough to wear a winter coat, though. Even in Melbourne.

  • Sparkling – tell me about it – but I get these requests from the other side of the globe who care about such things at this time of year! Just hoping we get a nice warm fine day for Christmas so we can go swimming in the pool!

  • We have already had the first snow and icy roads patch and the next one is on its way, according to the weather forcasters. I wear practical winter coats: they need to be warm and water resistant because I travel mostly on feet or bicycle. Unfortunately my winter coat is not very flattering, next time I need a new one I will know better what to look for, but functionality stays the main focus in winter coats.

  • For Quebec, these are NOT winter coats! Check out Canada Goose coats or Kanuk ones, or North Face parkas.

    The only stylish winter coats warm enough here would be a shearling or a fur coat. Otherwise it has to be a parka – filled with down or equivalently warn synthetic filling.

    – tall & slim anon

  • I would recommend NOT buying a coat under which you can fit THREE fleece jackets (unless unfortunately located in Quebec) – with or without the fleeces it will be unflattering – ask me how I know!

  • (I hope this doesn't result in a duplicate comment. I wrote earlier but never saw my comments posted.)

    I've been thinking about this question as well but also in relation to trench coats. Your post is helpful to me!

    I haven't decided if I'm an A or an X. I'm short and have been wondering if my coats should be single-breasted or double-breasted. Anything else you could share about that?

  • For those of you who live in super cold climates, you basically have to find a coat that is a good colour for you, in a down or other really warm fabrication, the shape will be less flexible as far as options go!

  • LisaB – single breasted is easier to wear for most shapes, so if in doubt, go for a single breasted coat rather than double.

  • Living in Sydney, I've never needed a winter coat. But I had to buy one last year for a trip to the UK last January. Choice didn't come into it — I only managed to find one decent-quality-for-a-reasonable-price coat in a size 18 that wasn't black ( I don't do black next to my face). At least the colour was good: halfway between navy and royal blue!

  • Yep – this side of the globe, especially those of us who just got 2 feet of snow in the latest storm that just ended yesterday, are very grateful for posts like this. I shrunk out of last years coat that I loved and am now on the lookout for a new one so this direction is much appreciated.

  • What a terrific selection of winter coats! I prefer classic and sportive winter coats — you can get lots of wear out of them!

  • Tracey – V shapes should avoid wide collars, puffed sleeves and shoulder details such as epaulettes, and look for patch pockets on hips to create curves to balance out shoulers.

    If you're a long waisted V you could try a belted coat, otherwise I'd stick with coats that have hip detail but that would also work for an H shape.

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