Coat Lengths Explained

As autumn slowly gives way to winter, now is the time when you may find yourself browsing for a new winter coat. The bite of the colder months of the year is undeniable, and unless you want to shiver your way through to April, this is an area of your wardrobe that is going to need some work.

In the pursuit of warmth, it is easy to think that style cannot be compatible with your winter coat. You want to be warm; being on-trend isn’t quite as important to you as it normally would be. However, you likely don’t want to abandon the entire concept of looking and feeling good, so let’s take the winter coat buying back to basics. There is one main area that you will need to get right if you want your winter coat to hit the mark in terms of style: the length.

The Importance Of Getting Length Right

The length of your coat is important as it defines your entire shape. If you get the length wrong for your body type and height, then your entire outfit is out of balance, and can make you look shorter or wider than you actually are.

Understanding Coat Lengths

There are three coat lengths that are standard fare for winter coats:

  • Waist-length. This length falls to just above your hip bones, so the hemline sits on your waist.
  • Thigh-length. This length falls lower and covers your entire (let’s be polite and say) posterior, landing around your mid-thigh.
  • Knee-length. As the name suggests, this length falls to just above or below the knee.
  • Ankle-length. Again, as the name suggests, ankle length coats fall to just above the ankle.

Let’s go ahead and rule a couple of these options out on style grounds. Thigh-length coats are incredibly difficult to get right, and tend to require you to have a very specific body shape; you need to be tall and very lean to be able to carry this length off.

We can also rule out ankle-length, as these coats are never going to be in style, and they’re also incredibly inconvenient to wear.

That leaves us with waist and knee length coats. Let’s delve a little deeper.

Considering Waist-Length Coats

Here are a few factors to keep in mind when buying waist-length coats.

  • Waist-length coats should never fall onto your hips; they should end sharply at the point where your waist is. If they fall lower than this — even just by an inch — you will look shorter than you actually are.
  • If you are tall, you may find that some waist-length coats sit a little above your hipbones. This will still look good, so don’t worry about it.
  • If cost is a concern for you, the waist-length coats are a good choice; less fabric tends to mean more affordable prices. Even if you want to go high-end, you should be able to find deals for stores such as Stone Island – 15% off orders, or substantial discounts with other high-quality manufacturers.
  • If you zip a waist-length coat, it can make you look boxy and more square than you really are. Again, layering a loose, longer jumper or shirt beneath the coat is the perfect antidote to this issue. It helps to draw the eye down and compensate for the loss of length, without compromising the outfit as a whole. If you’re over 6ft, this shouldn’t be necessary, but this technique is great for less-tall guys– see the picture above for the complete effect.

Coat Lengths Explained


Considering Knee-Length Coats

Here are a few factors you may want to consider when buying knee-length coats.

  • You should only wear knee-length coats that fall below the knee if you are particularly tall; over 6’2” at least. This style is very liable to cut your height in half, so should be avoided by less-tall guys.
  • Above-the-knee lengths work well for all body shapes and heights.
  • Ideally, you want an above-knee length to fall right at the top of your patella. Most guys can afford a few centimeters higher than this, but any lower, and you risk cutting your figure in half as described above.
  • Knee-length coats tend to be more expensive than jacket waist-length options, but they also provide more coverage of yourbody during the colder months. This extra layer of protection over your thighs can make the extra cost feel worth it.

So Which Is Right For You?

Ultimately, you have to pick a style that suits you. Your height is the best guide for what might work well for your figure, so follow the tips regarding this as mentioned above, and you won’t go far wrong.

Thanks for reading,