A friend of mine recently purchased a gorgeous knee-length white down designer jacket. When she brought it over to my apartment to show it off, I was so jealous as the coat hung on its hanger wrapped in its plastic. It was beautiful. And then she put it on. The only image I got in my head was that of the Snow Puft Marshmallow Man. I didn’t want to say anything because the jacket really was so nice and I could see the excitement in her eyes over it, but I just couldn’t let her go out in public looking like that!
Her problem was that her jacket was all wrong for her body type. She’s on the shorter side, and just a tad bit heavy-set. Something about the long jacket and the puffiness of the down just looked all wrong. So here’s some research I did on my good friend’s behalf on finding (and totally rocking!) the right winter jacket for your body type – because not only do you want to stay warm this winter, but you want to look cute doing it, too, right?
The Petite Little Thing
First thing’s first, petite ladies – height is not exactly a trait you possess. Therefore, your best bet when buying a coat is to avoid long-length jackets, like trench coats and ankle-length coats. A good compromise is a simple pea coat. The length should hit just below your hips, to make your body appear longer without making it look like your coat is too big for you.
The other way to go is the total opposite direction – a cropped jacket. Wearing something that hits right around your waist, or even higher, naturally makes your legs look longer. And hey, if you can’t physically make them longer, might as well make them look it, anyway!
The Tall Drink of Water
You’re the exact opposite of all of your petite and short friends, and you probably feel like a giant when you’re around them! But that height of yours is something you want to flaunt, certainly not hide. Try a longer length jacket, one that hits around your knees or even your ankles. A long coat will help accentuate your height, while also providing the added benefit of extra warmth for the tops of your long legs!
If you want to show off the length of your legs a bit more, just like your petite friends, you could try a cropped jacket. Wearing something that covers the upper half of your body will help draw attention to the seemingly endless length of your much coveted long legs.
The Athletic Powerhouse
You’re not a gym rat for nothing! You work hard for your body, so you’re going to want a coat that accentuates what you’ve accomplished. First off, avoid coats that have too much going on in the shoulder and neck area. If there is a large cuff or ruffle at the shoulders, it will make your shoulders look what will probably be a little too broad for your tastes. On the contrary, things like buttons and snaps down the center will be very flattering to your body type.
You also probably have a small waist that you’d like to show off. Pick a coat that features a belt or some sort of cinching at the waist to show off your shape. Athletic jackets, like some of those made by The North Face, will also look great on you. You are an athlete, so look the part!
The Partridge in a Pear Tree
You’re going to want the opposite of your athletic-type friends. A coat with an extended collar or embellished neckline will help broaden the appearance of your shoulders to even you out. Things like furs and extra buttons and snaps toward the top of the jacket will draw the eye upwards.
Coats and jackets that stop at your hip will only emphasize your widest point, which you’ll likely want to avoid doing. Look for lengths that will just touch where your hip bone is – by not completely covering your hips, you’ll avoid that wide look.
The Apple Orchard
You are even more opposite of your pear-shaped friend who’s opposite of your athletically built friend. Your shoulders may be slightly too broad for your liking, and you’ll want to draw the eye downward instead of upward. Try to find something that’s feminine and fitted to accentuate your small waist instead of your shoulders.
Vertical lines and prints on jackets will help make your body appear longer and help slim down your torso, thereby counteracting the width of your chest and shoulders. Big embellishments all the way down the front of the jacket, like large, decorative buttons, will draw attention away from your tummy and more to the beauty of the coat itself.
The Beyonce Bombshell
Well, aren’t you the lucky one! You’ve got the curves that most women would die for, so you need to show them off! Jackets with a cinched waist or belt feature can be pulled extra taught to make your waist look even smaller to flaunt your hourglass shape.
Necklines outlined in fur can be very flattering for those of you with a bigger bust. Try to find a coat that creates the illusion of a V-Neck (steer clear of actual v-neck jackets, as that pretty much destroys the functionality of the winter coat) with a fur outline or other embellishment. Coats that flare a touch at the waist will put even more emphasis on that hourglass figure.
The Bargain Shopper
OK, so this one isn’t exactly by body type, but a lot of these jackets will look great on you no matter your body type as long as you pick the right size and color. You can find functional winter jackets for under $75 in some stores. So if your wallet is what you’re trying to emphasize, find a store with a great sale, shop around, or wait for after-season sales!
One of the most important aspects of choosing the right winter coat is picking one that is great on the rack and on your body. I can’t even tell you how much I wish I could have been there with my friend while she was shopping for her white beauty to help guide her in a better direction. I am happy to report, though, that after enough (slightly) negative feedback on her coat from friends and family, she has since returned it and found one that’s just as gorgeous on the hanger but that also looks great on her. No more Snow Puft Marshmallow man!
Allison Waters is a freelance fashion columnist who specializes in outerwear. She resides in New England with her family, and if any of her readers ever need advice on choosing the right jacket or getting a quote on a MA home heating oil price, she’s your go-to girl!