Are you searching for the best trench coats for petites? If you are 5’4″ and under, it is not easy to find the trench coat that fits you. Trust me, I have been there. I am 5’2″, and I had a laundry list of requirements on the trench coat I was looking for, the length, style, fabric, color, and of course, the price. It took me many trial and error to finally find the one from Banana Republic that checked every box, but I’m telling you – that was worth all the effort. It has been over 5 years and I still love to wear it every fall and spring.
Trench coat is such a cornerstone piece in your wardrobe. Once you find the right one, it is here to stay! I have another post about “11 Must Know Tips to Find Best Coats for Petites“, which talks about all types of coats and not just trenches.
TODAY, I have put together this 7 step guide to help every short girl find their ideal trench coats. It answers all the questions you have about a perfect trench from the perspective of girls under 5’4″.
All You Need to Know about Trench Coats for Petites
How long should it be to make a short girl’s proportion look the best?
What fabrics are the best? What is THE color for YOU?
Where can you find the trench coats in petite sizes and fit your budget?
How should you style it with what you have in your closet? The best shoes to wear trench coat if you are short?
How should you accessorize it?
1. What Length is Best for Short Women?
First things first, there are three basic length of trench coats:
Short trench coats: They typically reach a little over the hips. There are also trench coats of cropped length, which reach above your hips.
Medium trench coats: They typically are at your knee or slightly above your knee. This is the most classic length for trench coats.
Long trench coats: They are below the knee, and most likely reach your mid calf or even longer. They are also called maxi coats.
Should petite women only wear short coats?
That is the common myth. I am sure you have read on various style blogs that petite women should choose the right length for their coats and jackets, and it is safe to make sure it does not go over your knees. That is all legitimate petite fashion advice. It is obvious that when the coat is short enough, your legs seem to be longer and that will make you look taller.
Medium length trench coat is the safest, and it fits almost all height and body types. If you can own only one trench coat and you are not a risk taker for petite fashion, then go with the medium length.
Now, should you wear maxi coats or not? If you have never tried long coats because of fearing they might make you look shorter, you are missing out big time.
While I agree coats above the knee or at the knee is the safest length for petite women, going longer can actually be very flattering if you master the skills. I have another post on” Top 7 Wardrobe Staples for Stylish Petite Women”, where I mentioned long coats as one of them. Let me make it clear, I am talking about very long coats, and they can be very flattering to petite women.
Have you seen the winter uniform of some Asian airlines? The stewardesses wear black or navy coats over their skirt suit, and the coats reach their mid-calf. From a distance, you cannot tell they are petite, because the H shape coat creates one column of color, the vertical line, which is most flattering to petite body frame. Now, there is certain details you need to pay attention when wearing long coats. They of course cannot be too long that they overwhelm your body frame, and they work best with heels at least 3 inches high. We 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, like the stylists suggested.
2. Cotton, or Not - What is Right for You?
When we talk about the fabrics trench coat, it is inevitable to talk about the history of trench coats and Thomas Burberry. Thomas Burberry invented cotton gabardine in the late 1800s. In order to create his new material, Burberry came up with a tightly woven fabric that relied heavily on worsted wool. The weave of the worsted wool was relatively smooth on one side, and had a ribbed appearance on the other side. For traditionalists, there is just one choice of trench coat fabric: 100% cotton gabardine as invented by Burberry. Tightly woven of a worsted cotton, it is both lightweight and durable.
Today, we have the choices of so many different fabrics for trench coats. If you ware looking for a heavy weight trench coat, leather is the top choice to keep you out of the winter chill. Heavier and warmer than its cotton or wool fabric brethren, it is more closely related to the overcoat in terms of functionality. Leather’s ability to repel dirt and water and ease of cleaning also make them more appealing.
A wool trench coat will cost a lot more than a cotton one, but it is such a great investment piece for your wardrobe and will last for years to come. The fine wool material elevates the taste of your entire outfit, and will leave great impression especially in the business setting.
Want to splurge a little and step up your wardrobe one notch? Cashmere trench coat or suede is your top choice. Pure cashmere trench for petites are hard to find, but some high end brands like Brooks Brothers make wool-cashmere blend coats for in petite sizes.
Denim trench coat is another trend in recent years that you could try if you are looking to add variety to your closet. If you are out shopping for petite trench coat on a budget, there is plenty of choices on the market made of faux suede and faux leather, which holds up the shape and will not cost a fortune.
3. What Color Complements YOU?
Traditionally, trench coats were beige. Today, beige or brown are still the most mainstream color choices for petite trench coats. But, you don’t have to limit your style because of that.
In the mood of trying something different this fall and winter? Choose a color that complements your skin and eye color. 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 outerwear. Are you somewhere in between? You got lots of options. The best thing to find out the most flattering coats for you is to try them on, and see how they look against your hair color, eye color and skin tone.
Maybe you are not yet to venture out with bold colors such as red or blue? Then you have the choices of other neutral colors such as navy, grey or black. They are the safest colors to go with other than beige or brown, because neutral colors are the easiest to style and you can pretty much feel confident they will go with anything you already own.
4. Best Places to Find Petite Size Trench Coats
Traditionally, the best places to find the most petite brands for trench coats are department stores. In recent years, most department stores have shrank 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 of our lives!
If you want to find the most petite brands in a 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 are my favorites when it comes to finding the best winter coats for petites. They have classic designers such as Lauren Ralph Lauren, London Fog and Michael Kors for petites, as well as emerging popular designers like Halogen and 1901. Nordstrom and Macy’s constantly have promotion events for every major holidays, so you might be able to score a high quality designer petite trench coat at just a fraction of the cost.
If you are living in or traveling to NYC, read my article on “The Ultimate Guide to NYC Petite Clothing Stores“
5. How should you Style your Trench?
Once you find your favorite petite trench coat, it is just as important for you to figure out what you should wear under it and make the entire outfit look chic. Trench coat is so versatile, you can create drastically different styles depending on what you wear under and the shoes you wear.
For instance, a slim cut cashmere or wool trench 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. Another choice is to wear a dress under the petite trench coat, paired with heels, to complete the look.
If you purchased short or cropped trench coat, then you create many different casual looks with it. Feel free to wear sweaters and jeans, paired with sneakers or flats.
The secret to style a petite figure is to make sure what you wear underneath will not break the continuous vertical line created by the coat. What I mean by that is if you wear a dress or skirt under the coat, make sure it is not longer than the coat. Otherwise the dress or skirt 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 trench 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.
Understand monochromatic dressing
When styling your trench coat, it is important for petite girls to master the skills of monochromatic dressing. For those of you not familiar with the term “monochromatic”, here is the definition. According to Wiki, Monochromatic color schemes are derived from a single base hue and extended using its shades, tones and tints. Tints are achieved by adding white and shades and tones are achieved by adding a darker color, grey or black. In fashion, monochromatic outfits are most flattering to short girls because they create a column of colors, i.e. the length much needed by short girls.
If you want to master the skills of how to look taller, then monochromatic outfit is a must. Using colors to enhance the illusion of height is a highly effective strategy, because it helps create a vertical line. To apply monochromatic dressing does not necessarily mean short women should be wearing one single color from head to toe- that would be boring to wear all the time, wouldn’t it? It just means if the colors you wear are all from the same color scheme with less contrast, you will appear to be taller. The trick to monochrome dressing is to keep each silhouette crisp and tailored. For petite girls, you should avoid any oversized items anyways and always go for a fitted look.
To create a monochromatic outfit based on your trench coat, you can consider wearing dark sweaters and pants under a black or navy trench coat, paired with black boots. If your trench coat is beige or brown, then wearing a camel dress underneath would be the same color scheme. Paring that with a pair of dark brown boots would be the perfect finishing touch.
Read more on “Why Short Women Must Learn Monochromatic Dressing”.
6. What Shoes should A Short Girl Wear with Trench?
Now that you found the trench coat for your petite height, 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 trench coats. Short trenches are recommended to wear with high-heeled knee-high boots, while ankle boots should be avoided as they may visually shorten the legs. Long trenches with flat ballerinas look very romantic and fresh, though shoes with small heels may also work well with long trench coats. Platform shoes and brogues are just other alternatives to wear with trench coats.
For petite women, finding the right tall boots is not easy, because the shaft length may not fit our shorter legs. Since I am 5’2″, I have had plenty of frustration with that! Most of the tall boots which are supposed to be knee high are too high for me and hit an awkward place on my knees. My personal favorite is Geox, Nine West. Their tall boots fit my legs just right, and I especially love their tall boots with wedges. I owned one pair of wedge boots from Geox from years ago that I still wear every winter. I got two pairs of over the knee boots from Nine West last year, and I literally just lived in them through out the 5 months of winter in NY. They are super comfy for commuter like myself who need to walk 20 minutes each way, every day.
Read more about “Best and Worst Shoes for Petite Feet“, which talks about what short girls should look for and avoid with their shoes.
7. How should you Accessorize?
While a petite trench coat itself creates a great framework and foundation for your entire outfit, you can double their oomph if you complement the look with the right accessories. The accessories can be flattering to your small frame, while functional in the colder weather at the same time. For instance, scarves and chiffon shawls romantically tied round the neck may create an instagram worthy look among crunching leaves in the autumn.
The key is to make sure your accessories (hats, jewelry, scarves and bags) are in scale to your size. Does this mean the smaller, the better?
The answer is no. For instance, not all petites are skinny, if you are a heavier set petite woman, then mini size accessories will only make you look bigger.
Another important tip of accessorizing is to draw eyes above. For example, tying the scarves higher will elevate the balance point of your outfit, and make you look taller.