There are many options to choose from, as well as different materials, when it comes to shopping for a plus size coat. The gold standard of coats, though, is still wool, a fabric that looks classic, is warm, and is long lasting. Wool coats also tend to look more sleek than, for instance, down coats. You can find a huge variety of plus size styles, from traditional to trendy and everything in between.
It's easy to get overwhelmed by the sheer number of available options, so make sure to think first about what style of coat best suits your lifestyle, personal preferences, budget, style, and figure. Here are some tried-and-true options.
A wrap coat is both functional and versatile: easy to get in and out of, and terrific over jeans or a skirt or dress. Take a good look in the mirror to see whether the particular coat you're trying on adds definition to your waist or just adds bulk; a coat cut more narrowly through the waist will give the definition you're looking for. Typically, a wrap coat will be in a smooth, flat wool weave that drapes nicely.
Tahari's Ella Wrap Coat is a beautifully simple version of a wrap coat in a rich brown. Its relaxed fit will be easy and comfortable for plus-size women; it will also look good with more or fewer layers on, without starting to look too tight. It's an especially good choice if your primary concern isn't warmth, since the looser closure will not keep the chill out entirely. It costs about $270 and is available in sizes 0X-3X.
Car or A-line
A car coat or A-line coat is a classic above-the-knee length and shape and almost universally flattering. It can be found in a wide variety of prices and colors and looks great with the most casual or dressy outfits. Best of all, it can create the illusion of a waist for plus size women who are thicker in the torso. Look for a wool flannel or other flatter weave, rather than a wool tweed, which has a rougher and bulkier texture.
This Land's End Women's Plus Size A-Line Coat is a version in a punchy purple that would work with most of winter's rich, vibrant colors. It would make a nice addition to many plus size women's wardrobes, which often veer toward black and darker neutrals, especially in the winter. Its princess seams, single-breasted closure, and smaller collar will all flatter the plus size woman. It's about $220 and available in sizes 16-26; it's also available in petite plus and tall plus sizes, so you can really home in on the version that fits you best.
A pea coat is another classic style. Its shorter length makes it a great choice for more active lifestyles. Pea coats are traditionally navy but they come in many other colors as well. They are typically done in a wool flannel or wool gabardine, both tight-weave, flattering types of the fabric.
The double-breasted closure may not work for every plus-size body type but it's an attractive option if you're looking for a casual coat. If you are larger in the bust area, for example, a pea coat might feel constricting, Make sure that the coat closes without any gaps and has a comfortable fit if considering this style.
This Woman Within Wool-Blend Double-Breasted Pea Coat costs about $160 and comes in eight colors and two patterns; it's available in sizes 14W to 34W. It is designed with generously cut armholes for a comfortable fit, and has extra details like shaping seams to provide a flattering look.
A long coat was once a staple in most women's closets. It's still the traditional choice for women going to the office and the most formal coat style. Although black is a common color for this type coat, it's not your only option. You may find a long coat in a range of different types of wool, from smoother, finer wool gabardine, a dressier, more formal fabric, to a tweed, which is less formal and dressy. Keep in mind that the more bulk the weave has, the less slimming it will be. Bonus: Longer coats do a great job of keeping the legs warm.
This Gallery Full Length Wool Blend coat can go to a gala event or to the theater. It costs about $250 and comes in sizes 1X to 3X. This style has princess seams, diagonal welt pockets, and buttons covered by a placket, details that all contribute to the long uninterrupted line of the coat, a slimming look that will work for many plus-size women. Pleats in back are another detail that will give definition to your waist.
There are many interesting details in coats these days, and plus size wool coats are no exception.
Recent trends in wool coats include:
- Oversize coats. Proceed with caution if you're looking at oversize coats, since they can create a bigger silhouette.
- Unstructured coats. Deconstructed coats can be fun and interesting, however, as with oversize coats, they have the potential to be less than flattering.
- Very long coats. These can be dramatic and beautiful and, best of all, warm. Plus size women should choose one in a darker fabric to avoid the overly large silhouette that may be created when you add so much extra fabric.
- Statement coats. A wool statement coat (with embellishment, embroidery, or similar details) can be a fun way to express your style. Take extra time with this type of coat, though, to make sure it's flattering; too many exaggerated details can be overwhelming in a plus size. Avoid anything extreme, faddish, or clownish.
Other details you may see include interesting seams, high-low hems, novelty lapels and collars, and other innovations. Some coats have sleeves that are three-quarter length or even elbow length.
This Larry Levine Ruffled Wool-Blend Coat is an example of a trendy style that works well for plus sizes, as it has a flattering A-line silhouette. It has a graceful front ruffle for an updated look. In a vibrant burgundy, it's a neutral that will work with many if not all of winter's colors and can easily go to the office or out for drinks after work. This would work best if you are fuller in the hips, rather than in the torso or stomach, because of where the ruffle is placed. Price varies according to size, from $100 to $180. It comes in sizes 0X to 3X.
How to Find the Perfect Wool Coat
You can find plus size wool coats at a wide range of stores online and off. It's worth checking out specialty plus-size clothing stores, the plus size department of a department store, and even stores that are primarily standard size, if their sizes extend into the plus range.
Other things to keep in mind:
Get the Fit right
Your coat needs to fit well in the shoulders and torso. Make sure to bring a sweater with you when you shop, so you can try on coats the way you'll wear them, with layers underneath. It does need to fit in the shoulders and torso, and it's important that you can close it so it is comfortable without gaps or gapes of any kind. If the sleeves or hemline aren't quite right, take the coat to your seamstress so she can adjust the hem and sleeves.
Other fit tips:
- Make sure there's ease in the arms, especially if you're larger in that area. Avoid pulling across the arms or the back.
- If you're a shorter plus-size woman, find a coat that's short enough. Look for a petite plus size coat, or get it tailored to fit, so it doesn't overwhelm you.
- If you're broader in the hips, an A-line or fit-and-flare coat will accommodate your hips. Look for interest at the collar to balance your hips.
- Better quality coats will tend to have more seams and darts, which can help your coat fit you better. A coat that's lined will not only keep you warm, it will also move with your body more easily and gracefully.
- If you're bigger in the chest, be careful with belted coats; if the belt is too close to the bosom, the result can be less than flattering, and other styles may be better choices.
Match Your Style
Plus size wool coats come in styles that range from romantic to rocker to classically elegant. If you have an edgier style, your ideal coat may sport details like zippers and leather insets. If your style is more romantic, perhaps a ruffle detail will appeal to you.
Details could include:
- Epaulets. Details at the shoulder bring the eye up and can be flattering.
- Zippers. Vertical zippers add interest and can be especially flattering for plus-size women.
- Metal hardware. Be careful of too much hardware, but in moderation it can be very flattering.
- Pockets. Vertical or slash pockets are slimming; horizontal pockets can be less so.
- Belt, buckle or sash. If you have a well-defined waist, a belt can be flattering; if you're thicker around the waist, a fuller, looser coat style may be preferable.
- Hood. A great way to provide warmth, but it may also adds volume visually, not always ideal for a woman who is heavier in the top.
- Leather details or inserts. These add interest and usually will not affect how flattering the coat is.
- Collar details. If you're larger in the bust, look for a lower opening, which will create a flattering vertical line.
- Embroidery and decorative patches. Ideally, keep these details to areas where you want the eye to be drawn.
- Patterns and texture. In general, the flatter a fabric's weave, and the darker and more muted the pattern, the more flattering it will be for the plus-size woman.
- Decorative seams. Vertical seams (and some diagonals) are slimming for plus-size women. Horizontal seams, including ruffles, are less so.
Get a Flattering Color
Black is a perennial favorite for a wool coat, and an elegant one; it's also slimming, an added benefit for plus-size shoppers. Other neutrals are worth considering, too: taupe, navy, gray, and even burgundy and army green. Winter white is also popular and can be beautiful and classic, but besides showing dirt quickly, it also tends to add inches visually, so it's not a great choice for most plus-size women. You can also consider bright or trendy shades if they work with our coloring.
Wool Coat Costs
A wool coat in general will be more expensive than other types of coats. The good news is that plus size wool coats are available at every price point. In general, pure wool costs more than wool blends do, and they're harder to find. If you want a coat made of cashmere, even a cashmere blend, you'll probably spend still more. Expect to pay at least $100 for a wool or wool-blend plus size coat, with options available for considerably more, depending on the designer and the percentage of wool in the blend. (Although it's just one factor in the pricing, as a general rule, the more wool in the fabric, the more expensive the coat will be.)
Add the Finishing Touches
Once you've bought your coat, make sure to get the most wear from it you can. Coordinating cold-weather accessories, like gloves, a scarf, and a hat, will help lower your coat's cost per wear. These are the finishing touches your wool coat needs, and they'll add a little extra visual punch and a layer of warmth as well.