Fashion meets function with oversize outerwear

JoAnne Klimovich Harrop
| Thursday, Nov. 15, 2012, 9:01 p.m.

Pump up the volume in your outerwear with an oversize coat.

“The big coat has become quite fashionable,” Nordstrom fashion director Gregg Andrews says. “It also is really practical, especially, if you live in colder climates. It might not be a coat you wear every day, but it is part of the trend today where women have a wardrobe of coats. And, the big coat definitely fits into that collection.”

It might come in the form of a menswear-inspired style to one that has feminine details on a boxy shape.

“Some of the newest oversize coats are double-breasted or wrap styles,” Andrews says. “And, if you are more adventurous when it comes to fashion, don't be afraid to choose a bold color such as blue or red, because it's really about statement coats and about owning more than just a basic black coat.”

Andrews says the best length is at the knee — or just above or below, because, if you go too long, it might not be so comfortable when you are trying to get in and out of a car. Or, if the roads are slushy, you don't want the bottom of the coat dragging.

“Many coats below the knee are hard to pull off, anyway” Andrews says. “Because, they aren't always flattering.”

Oversize coats were on trend during runway shows, which featured a return to volume in everything from the midsection to the sleeves to the entire garment, says Marissa Rubin, senior market editor for People Style Watch. It is a piece that has to be big enough, so if you are wearing something underneath, it fits well. These coats often look like they are designed more to fit a guy's body, but they will definitely come in handy as temperatures dip, Rubin says.

“Some of these coats have a menswear vibe to them,” Andrews says.

Cindy Weber-Cleary, fashion director for InStyle magazine, agrees oversize coats are a great trend for fall, but might not necessarily be right for all women.

“You need to be tall to pull it off to where it looks best,” Weber-Cleary says. “They look great with heels and boots. ... Go with a single-breasted design, because it is classic and a safe investment. I love having many coats. A coat completes an outfit.”

One mistake women make — after spending a lot of time and energy getting dressed — is they just throw on any coat, Weber- Cleary says. They forget to think about how it all looks together. “The coat is a vital part of the outfit,” she says. “Don't be afraid to try a coat you haven't tried before. A coat is a fun way to wear color, and you need a coat every day in the winter, so why not have many styles to choose from in your closet, including an oversize coat?”

Women who wait for a bus or who are outside a lot definitely need a big, warm coat, Weber-Cleary says.

“I feel like the big coat is the hardest shape to wear, so I would go with something belted, and try hard to not layer too much underneath, because you will already look bulky, so you don't want to add on a lot of extra pieces,” says Lindsay Huggins senior fashion-market editor for Self magazine.

The oversize menswear-style jacket is definitely a fresh silhouette this season, says Joanna Douglas, Yahoo! shine-fashion editor.

“It's really modern, and the best way to wear it (is to) really embrace the oversized shape. Keep everything else you wear really sleek and minimal.”

Pair it with skinny jeans with a turtleneck or a shift dress with knee-high boots and dark tights, Douglas says.

“These are all great pieces that will keep you warm underneath without adding more bulk,” she says. “You could certainly get a neutral oversize coat in black, gray or camel. Those are everywhere at a variety of price points. But you're looking for a statement coat, so why not go all out? A bright-cobalt blue is stunning, and can make any basic outfit into a really special outfit. You'll be excited to bundle up each day.”

JoAnne Klimovich Harrop is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at or 412-320-7889.

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