When you live in the Midwest, the weather is constantly changing and you need to be prepared. Enter the classic trench coat. While the original coats were long enough to cover the knees, most modern trench worn by women are shorter. How short should it be? Of course, it depends on the occasion, but if you are looking for a style that is the most versatile, consider knee length–at or right above the knee. This length should cover most skirt lengths and looks great with a pair of dress pants or a pair of jeans. Shorter styles are considered to be more sporty.

The classic trench coat is double breasted with a matching belt. The belt is usually tied, leaving the hardware dangling. The neck area has a lapel and can be closed over and buttoned for warmth. Trench coats can be quite costly, but a classic style is timeless and can be worn for years, so investing money into quality is a good idea. For the most versatile item, find a trench coat that has a removable lining. The lining can be zipped/buttoned in for colder days and removed for warmer days, extending the cost-per-wear of the coat.

While beige is the most classic color, it is not the most flattering color on many people. A simple black or navy trench coat will take you from casual to dressy. Add a colorful scarf or a pin and you’ve got personality! If color is your passion go for red and be cheerful no matter what the weather.

Truth be told, I do not own a classic trench coat (gasp!). For my body shape (V), the double-breasted style isn’t the most flattering. I opted for a simple style with single-breasted silver hardware to create that vertical element that I need to look more trim. Since I plan to wear it mostly on rainy days, I opted for one with a hood, although it is detachable. And it does not have a removable lining.

Is anyone wondering my I don’t practice what I preach? These are conscious decisions. Since I often wear suits with blazers, I decided that another layer would just make my upper body look larger. Mine is, however, roomy enough to accommodate a blazer. Make sure you are wearing your standard cooler weather attire when trying coat options. Find one that is right for you!

May you always look great!

Pat Roland, CTIC