Ask the Fashion Police, Outerwear

The Fashion Police’s Quick Guide to Coats (and how to wear them)

A quick guide to coats and how to wear them

With the Northern hemisphere now firmly in the grip of winter (even although it doesn’t officially start for another couple of weeks), chances are your trusty winter coat is seeing a lot of wear right now.

Coats and other pieces of outerwear almost become outfits in themselves at this time of year, and although that might make you think it doesn’t matter what you wear under them, think again: the wrong coat, with the wrong outfit, can make you look more like a badly-wrapped parcel than the stylish person we know you are. With that in mind, here’s our quick guide to coats, and how to wear them…

What kind of coat to wear with a midi dress/skirt?

what kind of coat to wear with a midi dress

Midi-length skirts and dresses have been popular for a while now, and we gave some advice on how to wear them here. Midis can be a little problematic when it comes to choosing outerwear: long coats generally aren’t quite long enough to cover the skirt, creating an awkward, “double hem” effect, which can look sloppy. In general, we’d say your coat should only be shorter than your dress if your coat is waist or hip length (i.e. it couldn’t possibly be longer than your dress if it tried), so rather than choosing a traditional long coat to wear with a midi dress, we’d suggest a short pea coat, or other hip/waist length style, which will keep the look streamlined. (This is also true of maxi skirts and dresses.) ¬†This is only really true if the skirt in question is a tailored style, though, so moving on…

What if your midi has a full skirt? What coat to wear then?

which coat to wear with a full skirt?

Full skirts have enough volume on their own: the last thing you want to do is layer even MORE fabric over the top, so if your skirt/dress is full, look for a short coat or jacket with a defined waist. Coats and jackets which DON’T have “proper” waists will add bulk, and will literally make you look like a bundle of clothes on legs. The outerwear in the image would probably be best described as “jackets” rather than coats, but if you choose a thick wool fabric and layer appropriately underneath, they should be warm enough for short spells outdoors. With both of these longer-length dresses, or with maxi-length styles, you could, of course, also go for a full-length coat: there aren’t a huge amount of them around right now, and they can be rather heavy to wear, but they’d also work with this length of dress.

Which coat to wear with a skater dress?

what kind of coat to wear with a skater dress

Skater dresses are one of the easiest styles to choose a coat for as almost any coat that’s the same length, or longer than the dress, will work. We prefer flared coats over straight-cut ones: they follow the shape of the dress and if your skirt is wide, it won’t get crushed under the weight of the coat.

Which coat to wear with a mini skirt?

which coat to wear with a mini skirt

With very short skirts or dresses, the key is to choose a coat that’s either longer than the skirt, or significantly shorter than it – i.e. waist or hip length. Problems arise when skirt and coat are roughly the same length, creating that “I’m not wearing anything under this coat,” effect. With that said, a pair of opaque tights can solve that problem fairly easily, making the mini another item which gives you a range of outerwear choices.

Which coat to wear with trousers or jeans?

which coat to wear with jeans

This one could really be a post in itself, because there are so many different styles of jeans and trousers out there, but assuming you’re going with the ubiquitous skinny/slim style, well, you can pretty much go wild with your outerwear. There’s not much that won’t work with a pair of jeans or skinny: we like the boyfriend and cocoon coats which are everywhere right now, but you also can’t beat the good ol’ parka for warmth and weather-proofing!

Of course, it goes without saying that most of us don’t have an unlimited coat closet just bursting with endless options, and it would be silly to suggest that you should buy a different item of outerwear for every possible outfit combination. As always, these suggestions are purely that: suggestions,which we hope will be of some help if you’re wondering which style of coat will work best with your wardrobe, but which are far from being fashion “rules” of any kind. We also have to point out that these aren’t the ONLY styles of coat which would work with the items featured, so if you have any other suggestions, we’d love to hear them!

The Fashion Police's quick guide to coats and what to wear with them

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