Does Your Coat Fit Properly? Here's How To Tell

by Julia Musto
Originally Published: 

How do you know if your winter coat fits you properly? A correctly sized topper is the key to warmth during the cold weather months, but it can be surprisingly difficult to find your perfect one. This winter, I realized that I needed a new coat and lamented to my mother, who then spent the next few days finding a few options for me. We then found this awesome double-buttoned camel coat that looked like it was straight off of the runway. I was sold but needed to go make sure that it fit me.

I took a trip to the brand's store in SoHo and tried the maroon version that they had in my size. I determined that with the sleeves so short on my genetic monkey arms (Don't worry; she knows.), I might need to get the coat one size larger and called my mom to tell her. Flash forward to Christmas Day Eve when my brother, my parents, and I were opening presents. I was the luckiest girl in the world. My last present was what I had predicted it was: the camel coat. I unfolded the coat and put my arms in the sleeves.

But oof, the shoulders were too tight, the sleeves were too short, and my chest was too big for the coat to close right.

There is nothing worse than a coat that doesn't fit. This is especially true when you need it to keep you warm. But you don't have to settle for something that doesn't fit well just because you think it's cool looking or trendy. Get something that fulfills all of your requirements for the first time ever. I know it's hard, but if you follow these few simple steps, you can get the coat of your dreams.

1. Arms and Shoulder Fit Matters

Ask yourself: Can you raise and lower your arms comfortably? Can you roll your shoulders without thinking that you're going to rip out the seams of your coat? If so, good! "When you try it on you should cross your arms in front of your chest and check to see that motion is not constricted," Nihan Onat, designer and founder of luxury outerwear company N’Onat tells Bustle. "You also need to be sure it sits and fits nicely around your neck."

Bojana Sentaler of Canadian luxury outerwear brand Sentaler also adds, "If the coat has a shoulder seam, the seam should sit perfectly at the bony tops of the shoulders. Next, I look at the sleeve hemline, which if too long, can easily be hemmed. The optimal sleeve hemline for coats is where the index finger and thumb connect. This hemline will ensure to keep your hands warm in colder fall and winter months."

2. Knowing Your Proper Shirt Or Sweat Size Is A Great Start

"Coat patterns are based on shirt patterns — with a small allowance for the fact that the coat will be worn on top of other garments — it is a good guide for choosing what size to purchase," Onat shares.

3. You Should Be Able To Close It

This is the whole point, right? Closing a coat keeps you warm. You can't just own a coat that never closes. The zipper shouldn't catch, and the buttons shouldn't be loosely attached. You also need to test this with chunky knits and multiple layers, according to YouLookFab. This is an imperative step. Size up if necessary. If it fits well, then it will look gucci.

4. It Should Be Good Looking


You should feel like Gigi Hadid struttin' down the runway in your winter coat. You should want to put on the coat and step outside. Make sure the coat is well-made, comfy, warm, et cetera. But, don't give up on what you want in terms of style and fashion. You need to love it, especially if you're investing in it. It needs to fit to form and be what you're looking for. Make sure you're going to want to wear it for a few years.

5. Know What Works For Your Height

"In my opinion, pea coats are a better choice for shorter people because of the length," Onat explains. "But make sure that the style is no longer than mid-thigh, if it is, have it shortened." Sentaler agrees, and says that, "Belted styles or empire waistline styles will create a sleek and elongated silhouette." As for taller people, "Those who have long torsos might choose square or loose shaped hip length coats," Onat adds. "The loose shaped coat will make the proportion even."

6. The Length Should Be As Reported

I always have a problem with length because I'm 6'0", but it could be the other way around! You'll want the style of coat to be the way that it's supposed to be: trenches are long and parkas are short. Additionally, sleeve length is very important. Don't settle for shorter sleeves because you like the style or know you'll layer. Come winter, you're going to want something that looks good everywhere, and you're definitely going to want more fabric covering your body. Plus, having awkwardly short sleeves makes it look like you borrowed that coat. Do you want that? I think not.

7. It Should Keep You Warm

Don't discount puffers because they make you feel like the Michelin Man! The whole point of outerwear is to keep you warm in the freezing cold. Brands like Patagonia and The North Face have sleek and super warm options that are a bit more substantial for those really low temps.

8. But If You Like An Oversized Look, There Are Still Options

"A-shaped, loose coats were very trendy for a while and seems like this trend will continue, which makes the coat look oversized already," Onat says. "You can buy a coat in your correct size and still achieve an oversized look if you choose a loose style." And Sentaler has even designed a coat for this specific purpose. "The key is to find the right oversized coat for your body shape," she explains. "In the SENTALER FW19 collection, I have designed the Oversized Coat with Fur Hood and Cuffs with a thin belt that goes through the coat. The belt is thin enough to retain the overall oversized look of the coat, but it is perfect to synch the waistline so that the body still has a nice form."

I hope these tips help to keep you cozy, comfy, and stylish! Good luck and happy hunting. Finding the perfect coat is like finding the Holy Grail!

This post was originally published on Dec. 30, 2015. It was updated and republished on June 27, 2019. Additional reporting by Kayla Greaves.

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