As a native Floridian, coats kinda stress me out. I worry that I missed not only the formative years of building a basic coat wardrobe–my first camel coat entered my life two months ago–but also and more importantly, the lessons on how to wear them.

Which isn’t to say that I believe in fashion rules. I wore white jeans to brunch on Sunday with a chunky sweater and boots and firmly attest that black and brown look pretty freaking fabulous together. But I do believe that certain proportions work best on most female bodies.

Of course, playing the flattering proportion game becomes a lot harder in winter, where coats add a whole extra layer– literally– to the equation. So as I browsed today and saw how they styled skirts with three very different coat lengths, I wondered: how do you get each version to work?

It seems there are just a few quick (yet important!) things to note:

  • If your coat hits at the same point as your skirt, you’ll want to make sure it’s either a well-structured, belted coat or that you wear your coat open and define your waist in the layers underneath. Otherwise, with your hems dissecting the same line and no movement from different layers, you could run the risk of looking a little blocky.
  • If your coat’s longer than your skirt, you’ll want to make sure the possibility of looking like a flasher doesn’t bother you. (Really. It’s 50-50 in our office.) If it does nag you, keeping the coat open—wearing tights will also help.
  • If your coat’s shorter than your skirt, you’ll want to make sure it either stops well above your widest part or well below it to avoid a thickening effect. Exaggerating the hems’ differences might be the best way to go since it seems intentional and playful– like a motorcycle jacket paired with a maxi skirt.

Beyond that, it’s fair game, don’t you think? (And if it’s not, please tell me! I’m still learning.)

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