Choosing a Winter Coat for Your Body Type

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This Black Friday and Christmas season, will you be doing little shopping for yourself? Perhaps you need a new winter coat. As with all clothing, choosing a style that is flattering to your body type will not only keep you warm through the colder months, but will also accentuate your shape.

When discussing health risks, doctors generally describe the body in two basic shapes: the apple and the pear. But in fashion, style experts describe five types of female bodies: apple, pear, strawberry, hourglass and rectangle.

Read: Women Worry About Body Image

Women who are apples carry their weight around the middle, so they don’t have a defined waist. Joy Wilson, a fashion stylist who writes a Shape Guide for Fashion World in the UK, suggests avoiding clothing that add volume to the mid-section. She suggests going with fitted jackets that button below the bust, v-necklines, and classic long coat or trench styles. Avoid coats and jackets that stop at waist level and those that are “puffy”, like ski jackets.

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Women with pear shapes have larger hips and thighs. Thea Palad of Women’s Health Magazine suggests having details at the collar of the coat such as faux fur to draw the eye upward. Also look for coats with wide lapels, structured shoulders and voluminous sleeves. Empire waists and pleated skirts also disguise a fuller lower half.

A strawberry shape suggests broad shoulders or large chest with a thinner lower body. Try a trapeze shaped coat (fuller at the bottom) to bring balance to your look. Also go with small lapels and coats without collars to flatter the upper half. Wilson also suggests single buttons versus double-breasted as the latter makes the top half of the body appear bulky.

Read: 5 Ways To Jazz Up Your Style

Have an hourglass or “curvy” shape? For women with larger chests, bigger hips, but a relatively small waist, accentuating the positive is a good course of action. Try a coat that ties or belts in the middle to bring definition to that area. Cropped jackets are also flattering on hourglass-shaped women. But stay away from baggy or slouchy styles and Wilson says that drop-waisted coats are a definite “no-no.”

Rectangle shaped women have a more athletic shape – straight up and down with small chest and hips but with a defined waist. Palad encourages women with this straighter shape to choose a winter coat with contoured seams and a slightly flared skirt to add “feminine curves.” A coat that is double breasted will also give the suggestion of a fuller bust.

And what to do with last year’s style? Look for a winter coat drive near you. Thousands of people each year need warmth during cold winter months, particularly in these difficult economic times. New York Cares is one such organization that collects coats during the month of December and distributes them to thousands each winter.

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