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Fall Fashion Coats: Finding a fit and style that works for you.

Posted November 28, 2012 by Ebony Hillsman in Fashion & Beauty


The chilly winds of fall have finally made their way down south. Lower temps used to bring a fashion dilemma for me. Yes, a dilemma and no, I’m not being melodramatic, growing up in central Florida meant 78 degrees and sunny nearly 10 months a year. A coat, while necessary in the early hours of the day, was usually a burden by the time the afternoon sun started to beam down on you. Moving north to Tallahassee for college, I succumbed to fashion peer pressure at a local leather store, buying an ill-fitting leather jacket that was cute but not functional. Adjusting to winters in Atlanta, which I know is mild to many of you “up north” folks reading this, took some effort and lessons about finding my “fit” in coat styles.


Peacoats were designed around the utilitarian styles of the European and later American Navies. According to www.streetdirectory.com, the name “pea” comes from the original Dutch name of the wool they were made out of: “pijjecker”, shortened to “pij” and later “pea”. Usually made out of a heavy wool, navy in color, the style is known by its line of 8 decorative buttons usually inscribed with an anchor (check your buttons, I know I did). Pea coats for women are shortened to 6 buttons and have a boxy shape, wide lapels, vertical slash pockets and are designed to have a hemline that stops at the hip. All purpose for cut and warmth, add your own styling with color choice, the most authentic tend to stick with black, navy and dark grey.

Trench Coats

Trench coats also have their history out of European military purposes, Fashion House Burberry claims to have patented the design out of the invention of garbardine for the British military in 1901. Founder Thomas Burberry found that the fabric repelled water, didn’t wrinkle and the style allowed for ventilation while keeping you warm- perfect for the trenches of war. The style and durable material made the coats popular with businessmen and women for corporate warfare in all of its modern variations. Different colors, fabrics and lengths have made the trench a versatile style for all body types. Shortened versions of the coat tend to work best for petite people and those with short torsos. Stay away from the full length trench if you don’t have the height to carry it off, the “swallowed in an oversized coat”  look can make even a trench look trite.


Capes are the only original style to have its history based in leisure.. Wikipedia notes that the sleeveless garments were first seen as early as medieval times, draped over the wearer  with an added hood and designed to protect from the rain and elements. Longer versions are considered “cloaks”. Various militaries adopted the styling to protect soldiers from rain while allowing ease of use.  The cape is now most commonly seen in women’s evening wear, the draping protects and the style won’t wrinkle your formal gowns. Capes come in various luxury fabrics and are suitable for all body types. Colorful additions like broaches to secure the open front are always a nice touch.


While having a few fashionable choices is always nice, give back what you have in excess. Donate your gently used coat to any of the following charities. Remember, your fashion lesson could be another woman’s blessing!





Photo Gallery of Past and Present Coat Styles

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Photo credits

Historic peacoat: news.stylecaster.com

Modern peacoat: 6pm.com

Historic trench: hwellhousen.com

Modern trench: thelook.today.com

Historic capes: longago.com

Modern cape: pinterest.com


About the Author

Ebony Hillsman

Ebony is a style guru and an intellectual... yes world they can come in the same package.


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