"Most things are judged by their jackets," Baltasar Gracián said. The 1600s-era Spanish writer probably wasn’t talking about belted trench coats, leather bombers, or classic pea coats, but he was onto something. When the temperature drops, your jacket is the first thing people see.

"It’s the biggest investment you’ll make for your fall/winter wardrobe," explains Toronto stylist Amy Lu. "You have to make sure that not only is it easy to incorporate into your wardrobe but it’s something that you’re happy to show everybody each day."

To help you choose your preferred topper, Lu sheds light on how to make five styles—from classic to trendy—work best for you.


Fall 2012 fashion: The trench coat

Runway inspiration: Burberry Prorsum
, BCBG, and Valentino all featured a take on the traditional trench coat this season, proving this fall look is eternally chic.

How to wear it: "There’s a trench coat for each person and every figure," Lu says. "It’s about finding the one that works the best for you this season."

Fall 2012 runways saw
leather in heavy rotation, including leather trench coats or trenches with leather detailing. But the trendiest option isn’t necessarily the best pick.

"[Leather trench coats] can be a lot of fabric," says Lu. "It can overwhelm a lot of figures. For something like that, you’d probably want a long, lean silhouette or you might get swallowed up."

A more traditional style trench can work for every body type, with minor tweaks. Short-waisted women concerned about looking “cut off” by a belt can follow Lu’s lead and tie the belt at the back.

The length of the jacket also matters. While a tall figure can pull off a longer jacket, shorter figures might want to consider having a trench coat hemmed to avoid disappearing. “Just because it fits off the rack, doesn’t mean that it’s the right length," Lu says.

Lu gives us the skinny on peplums and peacoats on the next page…
Fall 2012 fashion: The peplum jacket

Runway inspiration: For spring and summer, it was sleeveless tops and flirty skirts with flounces at the waist. For fall,
peplum has moved to the waistlines of jackets, as seen on the Gucci, Christian Dior, and Stella McCartney runways.

How to wear it: With its extra volume at the waistline, peplum may seem intimidating but Lu assures that it’s an easy look to wear.

“Peplums are very flattering,” she says. “They hide any tummy issues or [slight] love handle issues.”

The key to wearing a coat with flounce is to make sure that your waist is hidden by the peplum. “You’d never want to wear a low-rise denim or low-waisted trousers and then have it show below the peplum,” Lu advises. “That would look really awkward.” Instead, try a high-waisted pant or pencil skirt.

To make peplum more versatile, buy it in a neutral colour and try pairing it with similar colours for a tone-on-tone look that is classic and figure-flattering.


Fall 2012 fashion: The military-inspired pea coat

Runway inspiration: Fall 2012 runways were awash in army inspiration, including takes on the timeless pea coat by Jason Wu and Tommy Hilfiger, among others.

How to wear it: With its A-line shape, distracting buttons, and mid-thigh length, the pea coat is universally flattering.

“The pea coat is flattering on most people. It’s such a classic look and a classic cut,” Lu says. “That ties in really nicely with the military trend that’s happening. It’s a very forgiving cut and style for most body types.”

To make the most of the military inspiration, Lu recommends playing into the look by pairing a pea coat with aviator sunglasses and
lace-up boots. To avoid overkill, “pick two or three pieces of the look that pull everything together and then add your own flair.”

This coat is best paired with denim or trousers, to keep it streamlined; a skirt or dress can look awkward and distract from the overall look.

For one of fall’s most exciting trends – the cocoon coat! – read on…

Fall 2012 fashion: The oversized/cocoon coat

Runway inspiration: Voluminous, oversized, cocoon-like coats – both short and long – are right on-trend this season. Models at Jil Sander, Chloé, and Max Mara all walked the runway in extra roomy jackets.

How to wear it: It’s a fun look and when the temperature dips, swathing oneself in a big, cozy jacket is tempting. But it’s not for everyone.

“In theory, they look incredible on the runway,” Lu says, because the very long and lean models can carry so much fabric. But, she warns, “if you’re petite in stature, and you wear a cocoon coat that’s straight off the rack, you’re going to get swallowed up.”

To avoid disappearing in an ocean of fabric, Lu says to make sure one part of your figure is highlighted. “Whether you belt it and show that you have a waist, or whether that [the coat] is just below the knee and you wear a high heel so it shows that you have legs – something about you has to show to compensate for having that much fabric.” And like with any piece of clothing, having it tailored can make a world of difference.

If you’re planning on working an oversized coat into your wardrobe, make sure to keep the rest of the look very streamlined. Skinny trousers or tight leggings, and neutral colours help keep the look sophisticated. Hues such as the baby pink seen at Jil Sander may be great on the runway, but it’s hard to pull off day-to-day.

Fall 2012 fashion: The bomber jacket

Runway inspiration: The pilot-inspired bomber jacket with its high collar, zipper details, and cinched waistline is classic and sexy. This fall, the bomber is being done multiple ways; from motorcycle tough in embossed python at Giorgio Armani, to sophisticated countryside in plaid at Ralph Lauren.

How to wear it: “The only thing to watch for is that your waistline comes above the bottom of the jacket,” Lu says. Like with a peplum cut, try a high-waisted trouser or denim. “It can look sloppy when you have layers, like your blouse poking out from the bottom,” she warns. “It throws the whole look off.

The bomber jacket can be versatile, depending on the style. A black leather bomber is very city chic, while a bomber in tweed, paisley, or with a shearling collar can be very “English countryside,” says Lu.

For this fall, Lu would pair a leather bomber with skinny jeans or leather pants, a fitted chunky knit sweater, and black high-heeled booties—all in tone-on-tone black.

Read more:

Shop our picks for the best fall boots

Colour blocking is on-trend this season!

Fall 2012 is the season of vampy lips