What started out as a utilitarian staple for British soldiers during World War I has become a fashion mainstay for women everywhere. Here are tips on finding the perfect cut to flatter your figure (such as the one at right, good for those who are tall or have wide hips).
To buy: Burberry water-resistant cotton coat, $1,395, burberry.com. Max Mara dress. Joan & David heels. Robert Lee Morris earrings.
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If You Have Wide Hips
“Choose an A-line cut to fit the curves of the lower body,” says Matthew Friedman, a trend analyst for S. Rothschild and Company, which manufactures coats for Via Spiga and other brands. Look for a coat that is fitted on top and flared below to highlight a narrow waist (and disguise any bottom-half issues). You can also “balance hips with shoulder flaps and epaulets [buttoned tabs] up top,” says Colleen Sherin, the fashion market director for Saks Fifth Avenue.
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If You Are Petite
Opt for an above-the-knee coat so it doesn’t overwhelm a small frame. Cropped sleeves also help keep proportions in scale. “Avoid overpowering wide belts or dramatic collars,” says Friedman.
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If You Have a Large Bust
Select a single-breasted style to look as sleek as possible. “If the buttons pull, try a different brand,” says New York City–based stylist Amy Salinger. Bypass bold buttons, epaulets, and shoulder flaps, which can make you look top-heavy. Another fit trick: “Vertical seams help slim down the top half,” says Friedman.
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If You Are Tall
Go for sleeves that are long, not cropped. “Even if the sleeves are slightly short, the coat will look too small,” says Salinger. Try contrasting buttons or a big belt to break up the length of the torso.