If you’re like most women, you know that feeling of showing up somewhere (let’s say it’s a girls’ night out) and feeling under- or over-dressed. During the winter months, this predicament is even more common than any other time of year, since the winter coat protecting you from frostbite may be all that people will see. So if you’re all dressed up for a night on the town, why cover up with a long, bulky coat? In contrast, if you’re running errands during a snowstorm, why would you toss on a short wool peacoat?
As much ideal as it would be to buy a versatile coat that gets along nicely with all of your outfits, it's worth the investment to have a winter coat for every occasion. Here’s our guide for what coat lengths to choose for each of them.
For climates that don’t get too cold or too wet, short winter coats are a versatile choice. They’re also flattering for petite women and women of average height. As for what to wear them with, they look great with jeans or leggings, as well as long skirts and a pair of booties. Dress up the outfit with a short wool peacoat or leather coat. Take it down a notch to make it look more casual with a down puffer coat. If it isn’t too cold out and you’re not hiding from sideways-blowing sleet, feel free to wear a short coat practically anywhere as long as you feel comfortable and warm in it. They’re also a go-to length for skiers who need mobility yet warmth. If you like to play in the snow, a short coat is likely in your arsenal, matched with a pair of snow pants to keep your legs dry.
Medium-length (mid-thigh) coats flatter practically anyone who isn’t exceptionally tall. These are great for when you want enough length to keep your thighs warm but don’t want it to look like you’re drowning in outerwear. When it comes to choosing a type of medium-length coat to wear, you might want to avoid a down, puffer coat for a night out on the town, as this may look too frumpy. It would be great, however, for running errands or taking the dog for a walk. Something like a women’s parka with pockets for gloves and whatever else you may need is a great medium-length coat because of its versatility and weather-resistance. A belted wool medium-length coat, in contrast, would look great for a night out, or even as a coat you’d wear to work because it looks a little more dressy than something like a parka.
A three-quarter-length coat hits just above the knee, so it is slightly longer than a medium-length coat but less suited for shorter people who may otherwise look “hidden” in it. Just like with any other coat, the fabric will make a difference, as it determines how dressed up a three-quarter-length coat will look. A coat of this length tends to look a little more “dressed up” when it is made of a sleek material or of wool that is more on the thin side than a long down coat would be. On the other hand, a three-quarter length down coat could look a bit less “dressed up” but a lot more cozy for those blustery days.
Women’s long winter coats typically go past the knee and hit somewhere in the middle of the calf. They’re usually best suited for women who are taller than 5’6”. A coat of this length can look extra polished if it has a little bit of shape to it at the waist so it flatters the figure a bit instead of just hanging in a straight line. If you prefer a long coat but want to make it look as dressy as possible, consider accessorizing with a scarf or with some nice leather boots to take it up a notch.
When thinking of what coat length would suit you best for a particular occasion, it may help to also consider some other factors, such as the type of fabric it is made of, whether it is boxy or bulky, and where the pockets are. For example, coats with big pockets will draw attention to wherever those pockets are situated. Coats with a lower opening at the neck tend to flatter larger busts, as opposed to those with a closed neck, which draws more attention to larger busts. There is a lot to consider, but starting with the length should be a big help.