You need to stay warm, and you want to look good. But how? Winter coats aren't exactly tailor made for short men.
Most cold weather coats are too long, too bulky or both, which makes you look smaller and shorter than you actually are!
You know that fit is the most important aspect of style, so does that mean short men are out of luck when it comes to outerwear?
Fortunately, there are some very basic rules you can follow to make sure your cold weather style is on point.
It's mostly about what NOT to do. Just remember these two rules:
- Avoid bulky outerwear (like puffer jackets).
- Don't wear any coats that go past your knees.
If you follow these two rules, you'll be good to go. Everything else is just icing on the cake. We're going to dive a little deeper into these guidelines, but first I want to show you my outerwear collection:
Now let's look a little closer at the outerwear “rules” for short men.
Avoid Bulky Outerwear
You don't want to look like the Michelin Man. This look doesn't flatter any body type, but it's especially bad for shorter men. Any bulkiness will be over emphasized by your small stature.
Most winter jackets contain some sort of insulation, which adds bulk and weight to the garment. That's okay. After all, warmth is more important than style.
But you should do your best to avoid excess bulk. For example, consider puffer jackets – those quilted jackets stuffed with goose down. Sure, they're warm, but they add way too much unnecessary bulk and padding to your body.
Just look at this photo of Elijah Wood (left) and Jeremy Strong. Who looks better?
Both men are short and slim, but Jeremy's padded jacket dwarves his svelte build. Elijah's fitted jacket, on the other hand, flatters his smaller stature.
If you are going to wear a puffer jacket, make sure it's slimmed down and small in scale (i.e. small puffs):
Way better than this:
Still, these types of jackets just don't do it for me. They look out of place with most outfits and, in my opinion, should be reserved for outdoor activities like hiking.
Regardless, just remember to stay away from overly thick and bulky outerwear.
Don't Wear Full Length Coats
I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but most short men just don't look good in coats that go past their knees.
Sucks, I know, but it's the truth. Any coat that goes past your knees will be very hard to pull off. It will need to fit perfectly, like this:
This jacket fits wonderfully, which is probably the result of painstaking (i.e. expensive) alterations. Not to mention, James Dean can pull off anything, and this was a different time period (as evidenced by the cuffed, full cut trousers).
I'm not James Dean, this isn't the 50s, and I'm still pretty young. So I prefer shorter coats. Mid-thigh is a great length for men under 5'8″. For example, your go-to “dressy” winter coat can be a grey, navy or camel topcoat.
Source: Closet Freaks
These coats are typically made from thick wool, and they're usually fully lined, which makes them warm and toasty. They should end about halfway down your thighs, a perfect length for shorter men.
Lots of people will tell you that short men shouldn't wear long coats, but believe me: a mid-thigh coat can actually elongate your figure in a way that shorter coats cannot.
Notice how Anthony (in the above photo) has the sleeves cropped extra short, which creates the illusion of longer arms. You should do this too. Just don't go too short. Make sure your sleeves end just past the bump above your wrist on the outside of your arm, opposite your thumb.
A good topcoat isn't cheap, but it's one of those wardrobe staples that's worth investing in:
Another classic men's coat is the pea coat. It's less formal than the topcoat, but it still works for a “dressed up” look. Uniqlo makes a good entry level pea coat.
It's a good one for smaller gents because the lapels aren't ridiculously wide, which is normal for pea coats.
The sleeves are about 25″ long (XS) but can be shortened pretty easily for $20-40, depending on where you go.
Here are some other affordable pea coats:
Another option is to go to your local military surplus store and buy an authentic pea coat that fits in the shoulders, then take it to a tailor to get it fixed up (it will probably only need the sleeves shortened).
Before you buy anything, I highly recommend checking out Grailed.com, an awesome place to buy high quality secondhand clothing for men.
The sellers often list an item's specific measurements along with their body type. If they don't, you can always send them a message asking for more info.
Plus, it's not all designer clothing. They have a section called “Grailed Basic” that has great outerwear from brands like J. Crew, Club Monaco and more.
I recently bought a sweet military for just $40. Definitely worth checking out!
Of course, you won't always be wearing topcoats and pea coats. They're great for weekdays, but what about the weekends? You're not going to wear a topcoat to the snowball fight!
For casual outerwear, I recommend the parka-style coat. There are TONS of different kinds. Some have fur-lined hoods, some have fishtail backs, and some are more insulated than others (although they should all be waterproof).
These are all worth checking out (in order from least expensive to most expensive):
- H&M (1 or 2)
- ASOS (plenty of options in XS and even XXS)
- Spiewak (from Zappos)
- Alpha Industries
- J. Crew (from Mr. Porter)
- Penfield (realllly nice)
Here's the thing – you can find casual outerwear that fits pretty well, but the sleeves might be too long. Tailoring a waterproof jacket is much more complicated than tailoring, for example, a wool pea coat.
But it can be done. The key is to find a tailor who knows what they're doing. If you buy a new jacket, ask whoever you bought it from (either the store or the manufacturer) if they can handle alterations in-house.
See Also: How to Find a Tailor
If they say no, ask them to recommend a tailor. You may have to send the jacket to a speciality shop. I've heard good things about both of these places:
These speciality tailors will take longer and be more expensive than your local tailor, but it's worth it to get that perfect fit.
Instead of wearing one super-warm coat, you can just layer up with multiple lightweight layers.
Here are some examples of casual cold weather layering from some of my favorite stylish short gents:
Source: Dressed to Ill
Source: Dressed to Ill
By wearing layers, you can be stylish and warm (the ultimate cold weather combo). Plus, you can always add or remove a layer when the temperature changes.
Perfect for those days where it's cold in the morning, warmer during the day, then freezing again at night.
Shorter gents should avoid baggy, bulky outerwear. Instead, opt for thinner, fitted coats, and use multiple lightweight layers to stay warm.
What's your go-to cold weather coat? Leave a comment below!