Discover the 11 Secrets to choosing a Perfect Winter Coat

I’m finding that it’s getting to that time of year when I instinctively reach for a winter coat when I’m heading out the door. It’s probably the most worn item in our winter wardrobes. As such an important piece it’s a significant purchase we all want to get right.

A winter coat is the essential part of looking perfectly put together (and some mornings potentially hiding a less well put together outfit underneath!) – think of it as the final touch…and the first impression too. Get it right and you can simply throw it on over any outfit for instant style so you feel good and are ready to go out.

Every Autumn sees the emergence of a new coat style, but, as a personal stylist and personal shopper, I want to help you find your perfect coat style that will look great on you season after season – making it a very smart buy. Ever had a winter coat that you absolutely loved wearing? If you have, then read on to discover what it was that made it such a great coat for you. If you haven’t, then you will discover what style will suit your colouring, body shape and personality best.

Read on for the key to finding your ideal winter coat (yes, and it applies to men too!):


1. Neckline

Standard Collar – great for masking a sloping shoulder

Wide Lapels and Shawl Collars – will broaden the shoulders and draw the eye up to the face (away from any area you may wish to disguise)


Feminine Style with a Shawl Collar & Belted Style (Hobbs)
Feminine Style with a Shawl Collar & Belted Style (Hobbs)


2. Shoulders

Epaulettes – not only give a nod to the military look but enhance narrow shoulders

Puffed Shoulder Detail – will subtly enhance narrow shoulders

Exaggerated Shoulder Detail – definitely one to be avoided if you have particularly broad shoulders, keep it neat and minimal


Military Style Epaulettes / Feminine Cut (Zara)
Military Style Epaulettes yet in a Feminine Cut (Zara)


3. Sleeves

Contrasting Sleeve fabric to the body of the coat – a trend that first hit the high street last Autumn/Winter and is great for narrowing broad shoulders as it visually breaks the shoulder line

3/4 Length Sleeves (intended to be worn with long sleeved knitwear or long gloves – or like the example below the under layer sleeve is part of the coat) – actively shorten the appearance of long arms

Bell Sleeves – enhance a narrow hip-line

Cuff detailing – breaks the line of the arms and shortens their appearance

Classic Androgynous Coat with Contrasting Sleeves (Hobbs)
Classic Androgynous Coat with Contrasting Sleeves (Hobbs)
Classic Coat with a Twist - 3/4 Faux Sleeve (Zara)
Classic Coat with a Twist - 3/4 Faux Sleeve (Zara)


4. Fastening

Double Breasted – often an integral part of the military style this can enhance a small chest or bust

Single breasted – this clean cut is particularly good for people with larger chests

Asymmetrical Fastening – offers a nice twist to more classic styles


5. Pockets

Hip Pockets – great for balancing out wide shoulders

Breast Pockets – particularly good detail for men who are especially slender and small in the chest

Dramatic Style - Colourful with Cuff Detailing & Big Hip Pockets (Ted Baker)
Dramatic Style - Colourful with Cuff Detailing & Big Hip Pockets (Ted Baker)


Classic Coast with Large Pockets on Hips (Hobbs)
Classic Coast with Large Pockets on Hips (Hobbs)


6. Length

Particularly long legs? A three quarter style will work particularly well on you

Relatively short? Generally avoid styles below knee length as these will likely swamp you

Broad across the shoulders? A hip length winter coat will work well

Conscious of having large thighs? Opt for a coat that does falls below your thighs


7. Cut

A-Line – universally flattering on pretty much all body shapes

Drop Waist – ideal for those who are particularly narrow across the hips

Cocoon – great for masking a curvy lower half but also balancing for someone with broad shoulders

Pea Coat – generally a very versatile style that covers a multitude of shapes – so the colour is the key element to get right

Classic A-Line Coat Hobbs
Classic A-Line Coat (Hobbs)


8. Fabric

If you wish to enhance your small frame and create shape, thick bulky fabric will really work e.g. down feather quilted coats will achieve this particularly well.

When seeking a more streamlined shape, be sure to choose a finer heavy fabrics which will drape over your body without the bulk. A neatly cinched waist will always reveal a slimmer silhouette


Quilted Coat Enhancing a Small Frame with cinched waist (Zara)
Quilted Coat Enhancing a Small Frame with Cinched Waist (Zara)


9. Colour

Virtues of a plain neutral colour

If this is to be your only winter coat and an investment piece, then I recommend choosing a neutral colour as this will literally go with any other colour in your wardrobe and is also not very memorable making it extremely versatile.

Examples for cool skin tones: Black; Charcoal Grey; Navy; Taupe; Stone

Examples for warm skins tones:  Chocolate Brown; Warm Navy; Camel


Virtues of a colourful neutral

As versatile as a plain neutral but more interesting and stylish

Examples: Aubergine; Purple; Plum; Olive; Teal


Virtues of a true accent colour

If you already have a neutral coloured winter coat and/or you seek to make a real statement then an accent shade will ultimately give you the ‘wow’ factor. You can tone down particularly bright shades with a simple design and more neutral or tonally similar accessories

Examples: Pillar Box Red; Electric Blue; Turquoise; Pink; Burnt Orange; Coral


Virtues of a print

If you seek something different, opt for one with a patterned fabric – you can tone down the overall look with simple plain styles, or if you’re more brave clash with another print for a more creative look


Quirky Look in a Print Fabric (Ted Baker)
Quirky Look by using a Print Fabric (Ted Baker)


10. Personality

Classic coats – for those who favour simple, clean lines and timeless styles

Classic with a twist – generally still simple but has a little details, maybe a nod to a current trend that make it more interesting and stylish

Cute/ Quirky style – maybe an oversized bow, big buttons, the cape or a drop waist suggest a more playful personality

Womanly – a belted or nipped-in waist will beautifully accentuate a feminine shape or a feminine colour like pink will turn an androgynous coat feminine

Elegant – go collarless or try a funnel neckline, plus 3/4 length sleeves always give a more ladylike feel to coats

Tomboyish – with a more androgynous style such as the pea coat you will likely be drawn to men’s tailoring and more mannish fabrics e.g. pinstripe, plain flannel and clean minimal lines

Dramatic – if you seek an eye-catching, statement coat then a bold design in an accent shade will grab our attention

Elegant Style - Collarless with Bell Sleeves (French Connection)
Elegant Style - Collarless with Bell Sleeves (French Connection)


11. Need a helping hand?

If you need help finding the perfect winter coat for you, why not book a Women’s Personal Shopping session or Men’s Personal Shopping session?If you’d like to discover what colours will ensure you look great on a cold grey day and/or what styles will suit and flatter your shape then you may also be interested in my personal styling services – Colour Analysis & Style Analysis – for women, or Style Analysis for Men.


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Why not check out other posts relating to Personal Styling and Personal Shopping, including How to choose a Personal Stylist & Shopper and How to choose a Fashion Top