As a petite woman myself (I am 5’2″), I totally get how hard it is to find the right winter coats for petite ladies. Besides, I also have a petite clothing line for women 5’4″ and under, we work very hard to bring the best coat styles for petite ladies.
Winter coats are not cheap, so it is worthwhile to spend the time to find a petite coat that will last years to come in your closet.
Based on feedback from thousands of my petite customers, I’ve put together this detailed guide to help you find the best coats.
The fundamental concept here is a silhouette.
Coco Chanel said, “Fashion is architecture.” Therefore, like architecture, the easiest way to understand the silhouette of your coat is its shape of it.
Below are the most flattering silhouettes for short women.
The goal here should be to create a long straight line through the coat, thus a slim cut H shape always fits into the criteria.
A-line coat with an empire waist (also known as a princess cut) is another shape that flatters short girls.
Understanding your body type will help you choose the best silhouette for the petite coats. The reason is it elevates your waistline and creates the illusion of height.The reason is it elevates your waistline and creates the illusion of height.
From my observation, wrap coats are flattering to almost any body type. Since you can adjust the belt tight or loose, wrap coats are suitable for petite women of all sizes.
- They are especially flattering for petite girls who need to create defined waistlines such as apple-shaped petite women and rectangle-shaped petite women.
- Apple-shaped petite girl who is conscious about midriffs may find cocoon coats give you plenty of space in the midsection.
- If you are an hourglass-shaped petite girl with a bigger bust, a petite coat with an open front will give you extra space in the chest area.
- An effective way to flatter a short woman.The belt creates a focal point for your coat, thus highlighting your waistline.The eye will assume anything under your belt are all your legs, creating the illusion of longer legs
- A shorter peacoat normally reaches above or just under your hips.Wearing skinny jeans or pants with high heels or tall boots of the same color to extend your bottom half can help create the 1/3 to 2/3 ratio, a perfect outfit for short girls
Caution with a cocoon shape
- a popular new coat shape but not the most flattering on a short woman
- The cocoon shape has no shoulder definition and is wider on top with narrower bottom, a shape that can make a petite woman look even shorter than they are.
When it comes to styling petite girls, nothing is more important than the fit. It is even more so when it comes to petite winter jackets.
The reason is winter coats cover such a large area of your body. If it doesn’t fit you perfectly, you will look like being worn by the coat instead of you wearing the coat.
Follow the guidelines below to find the perfect fit
- A well-fitted shoulder lies flat.
- The seam on the top of the shoulder should be the same length as the bone under it and should meet the sleeve on the coat right where your arm meets your shoulder.
- If the seam that connects the sleeve to the jacket is hiked up along your shoulder bone or dangling down on your upper bicep, you will see the ripple effects that create lumps or wrinkles on the sleeves and the top of the jacket.
- Now the caveat here is the shoulder fitting does not necessarily apply to every style coat, e.g. some cocoon coats have different seams than traditional tailored coats so it is hard to gauge with this principle. However, the majority of the coats should follow this guideline.
Sleeves are probably one of the hardest things when it comes to winter coats for short women because you will find most coat sleeves are simply too long.Ideal sleeves for cold weather coats such as puffers should be longer than dress coats, but they should not be longer than the first knuckle of your thumb
3/4 sleeve lengths are ideal for casual coats.Ruched sleeves are great for petite women, as they have the flexibility of full length but without being excessively long
Since Petites are under 5’4″, the right length is critical for your coats. After so many years of trial and error, here’s the most flattering length for us short girls.
- The easiest length to pull off for shorter women.This length is very versatile, as you can wear them with any of the pants or jeans outfits in the winter
- The most leg elongating length for shorter women
- The ideal length for a puffer coat because it perfectly balances out the volume in the puffer
- They can easily layer on top of turtle neck sweaters and pair with either pants or jeans
- The best length to wear with any skirt or dress in winter
- One of the most flattering lengths for short women, because it creates an unbroken vertical line for your entire outfit.
- Make sure the coat is not too long as to overwhelm your body frame.Look best with heeled tall boots, ankle booties, or heeled pumps.
- I do not recommend wearing long coats with flats or sneakers- that just does not look right and they will make you look shorter than you are
Fabrics have a big impact on the overall look of an outfit.
Avoid too thin
- If fabrics are cheap and wrinkled, they will downgrade people’s impression on you.
- This especially important with petite outerwear.
- When it comes to formal wear for the office or client meetings, always choose heavy-weight natural fabrics such as wool or cashmere, especially in the winter times.
- Get them when they are on sale at end of the season. The classic style never really changes much over time anyway
- Consider it an investment for the long term and you will realize investing in a winter coat made from fine merino wool is worth every penny.
- It will make your entire outfit look more expensive, thus giving more presence and authority to short girls.
- Neutral colors are the safest and easiest to style.
- camel, beige and brown are the classic colors for winter coats that never go out of style
- An ideal addition to your closet if you have a closet full of blacks and greys.A head turner in the winter, perfect for shorter girls
- If you are used to a petite fashion wardrobe full of blacks and greys, like most of us in urban metropolitan areas do, venture out and add some bright colors and you will be surprised how flattering they are on a petite body frame.
- The secret is to use bright colors to volume and thus complement your petite frame. You can go with wine or even lighter pink or baby blue, which will still be in style season after season.
- Women with dark hair and complexions will look good in bright colors. Those who are fair-skinned will be complemented by pastels and light shades in outwear.
It is just as important for you to figure out what you should wear under it and make the entire outfit look chic.
- A slim-cut cashmere or wool coat defines a polished look, so your best bet is to wear a well-fitted sweater under it, which you can pair with skinny pants and boots.
- If you purchased a puffer or down coat, then you have many options to create a warm and casual look. Feel free to wear sweaters and jeans, paired with sneakers or snow boots.
- What I mean by that is if you wear a skirt under the coat, make sure it is not longer than the coat.
- The secret to styling a petite figure is to make sure what you wear underneath will not break the continuous vertical line created by the coat.
Make sure your coat is long enough to cover most of your dress length.Otherwise, the dress shown under the coat will make your legs look cut off and make a petite woman look even shorter.
- If you are wearing pants under the petite coat, make sure the pants are long enough.
- Avoid wide-leg pants shorter than your ankle, because they create a horizontal line and make your legs look shorter.
COAT AND SHOE PAIRING
Now that you have an idea of what petite outerwear you should buy for this fall and winter, do not forget about completing the look with the right shoes.
- Tall boots, either knee-high or over-the-knee are the no-brainer that goes with almost any style of coat.
- Tall boots can make a down coat less bulky, and make a tailored coat more vibrant and polished. They are also the best choices to improve your proportion when you are wearing winter coats because they almost look like an extension of your legs.
- Ankle booties will make a perfect outfit with dress coats
Buying stylish and functional petite women’s winter coats is not cheap. Most brands on the market could cost anywhere from 200 dollars to up to 600 dollars, depending on the designer and type of coat you are looking to buy.
The top tier designer labels in the Max Maras and Escadas of the world, or those made of luxury fabrics such as cashmere, could cost even more, oftentimes what would be one month rent to a lot of girls.
Since winter coats could be a high ticketed item, buying it should be treated like an investment decision.
Treat like an investment
- The mindset of investment in a petite coat means you buy what is the best value from the long term perspective, whereas the mindset of expense will lead you to jump on the lowest price for what is trendy this season.
- Suppose you live in a cold area and you have almost 6 months of winter (like myself who lives in the NY/NJ area), the coat you are buying will be worn at least twice a week throughout the winter, that is, 50 times or more for each winter!
Quality over quantity
- If you are getting a well tailored wool coat in a classy silhouette that will last you a minimum of 5 years, then that means you will get to use it minimum of 250 times before you retire it. That implies a 500 dollar coat would cost you only 2 dollars for each time you wear it.
- The reality is most of us keep a good quality winter coat for well over 5 years, and sometimes up to 10 years
- Once you have the mindset of investing when looking for the petite winter coats, you will make a wise decision and value quality over quantity.
Best time to buy
- The best time to purchase coats are January every year, when all the major retailers and department stores have their largest sale event of the year for winter clothing.
- If you can wait till January, you probably can get the best bang for your bucks and score some really nice finds at unbelievable prices. Of course, there is the risk that your size might be sold out in January.
Finally, here’ our recommendation for the best petite winter coats for this season, based on my own purchases, and the feedback of our readers.
Traditionally, the best places to find the most petite brands for winter coats are department stores. In recent years, most department stores have shrunk their petite departments, so it almost made little sense for us petite girls to visit the local stores. It is time-consuming to visit, searching racks after racks of clothing and only to be told they don’t carry your size.
Sounds familiar? All of us petite girls have experienced that at some point in our lives! If you want to find the most petite brands in the shortest amount of time, the smart way is to go to the department stores online and shop petite sizes from there.
Why department stores? In my own experiences, Nordstrom and Macy’s petite departments are my favorites when it comes to finding the best winter coats for Petites. They have classic designers such as Ralph Lauren, Michael Kors, and Calvin Klein, as well as emerging popular designers like Halogen and 1901.
Nordstrom and Macy’s constantly have promotion events for every major holiday, so you might be able to score a high-quality designer petite coat at just a fraction of the cost.
Another place I often check out is my favorite petite designer websites.
Jcrew, without saying, is on the top of the list. They make fine quality coats for petite women and the prices won’t break your bank, especially if you wait till their winter promotion season.
The Jcrew factory site is a gem! I’ve found so many reasonably priced jackets and coats, with a style similar to my other JCrew petite coats!
Talbots is a wonderful place to look, especially if you like colorful coats
Lands’ End is known for outdoors, and I love their puffer coats and luckily they come in petite sizes!
I have bought numerous winter coats at Banana Republic, and some of them have last me more than 10 years.
Don’t forget to check out Banana Republic factory site as well. It can be a hit or miss, but I especially love their long layering pieces like the petite trench coats.
Ann Tylor is my go-to place for well tailored winter coats for the office.
Brooks Brothers is one of my favorite shops which makes premium quality winter coats in petite sizes.
For young contemporary and budget friendly petite size coats, always check out ASOS and Topshop.
Martha Poole says
I appreciate your tips very much. I find them very informative and practical.
Martha- thank you so much for stopping by and leaving the comments!
Nancy Nixon says
enjoyed this discussion about coats – but I live in Phoenix, AZ so don’t wear many coats. What I need help with is where to find shape-wear for petites. I talked with Spanx and they don’t have anything for petites – suggested that they consider it, but who knows. Any help would be great.
Hi Nancy- thank you for leaving your comment. I’ll see if I can find some petite friendly shapewear options and share on the blog if I do!
Great post! I live in a cold climate and so what length and type of coat should I wear in the winter with flat shoes?
Hi Tina- Thank you for the feedback! I would suggest maxi coats (wool or down) to keep you warm, pair them with flat boots for extra warmth.
Joanie Brandt says
I am happy to have discovered this site. I have a beautiful navy wool coat that is about 30 years old. We lived in So California for 25 years so it was not worn there. 8 yrs ago we moved to Oregon due to retirement and wanting 4 seasons again. My old navy coat looks brand new, but it has shoulder pads, and due to my age, I have lost some height. I am now 5′ tall. Can I get by with wearing it with boots, (small heels), to church and a few dressier affairs? Please advise.
Thank you for any help.