No matter the season, it goes without saying that my dresses are some of the simplest and most convenient pieces in my wardrobe. In summer, I throw one on and run out the door with barely a thought because they’re the most practical item one can wear while summer temps blaze. In winter, the added thought is only to slip into a pair of tights and maybe layer a turtleneck underneath. No matter the season, however, dresses are always complicated by one thing: coats. In the summer, temperatures can swing from 90 degrees midday to 65 degrees at night in the blink of an eye, which means it’s essential to have a coat to combat the evening chill. In fall and winter, a coat practically becomes part of your outfit as you need one to even step out the door.
The challenge lies in the fact that, as a coat immediately becomes the most visible part of your ensemble, it can easily make or break an outfit. Styling coats with dresses can be particularly tricky as the final layer can make the entire dress seem shapeless, or even cover it in its entirety. A necessary evil, there are, in fact, ways that a coat can upgrade, even highlight (!) the dress underneath. If you don’t believe me, read on to learn how to pair jackets with dresses in seven different ways.
If you’re seeking a constructed, tailored look (less free-flowing and informal), try belting both your jacket and dress with a single belt. Not only will this simple accessory create uniformity among the two pieces (even if they’re contrasting like the above), but it will also give them more shape and an interesting form for the eye to follow.
Whether I’m wearing a minidress with a blazer or a midi dress with a trench coat, I love matching the lengths of both pieces. It provides a uniform, suited look and feel that is both put together and classic. Your outfit immediately looks very intentional, and the jacket and dress will look perfectly paired no matter the material or color.
Despite the dinosaur hands that inevitably emerge when wearing a jacket draped over your shoulders, it is undoubtedly one of the chicest ways to style the pairing. Freeing your arms, this look allows you to show off your entire dress while accessorizing the coat in an effortless and flirtatious way. It will look like you literally threw it on as an after-thought while walking out the door—no one will know you meticulously planned it.
If you’re not going to match the lengths exactly, I suggest swinging to the opposite end of the spectrum and styling two contrastingly different lengths. Specifically, fashion girls love pairing a short jacket (think cropped) with long midi or maxi dresses. The look is lengthening, as it draws your eye from the hem of the jacket to the hem of the dress.
Once again, there is little middle ground when looking to stylishly pair a jacket-dress combo. If you don’t like color-coordinated looks, try choosing a jacket that starkly contrasts with your dress. The disparity will highlight each piece, making for a daring and avant-garde outfit—the likes of which you see on the runway.
Last but not least, why not just skip the whole pairing process and make your jacket the dress? I love a good two-for-one combo, and this one is especially delightful. Mid-thigh jackets make for the perfect dress length, so just button (or zip) it up, throw a belt around it and voilà—a jacket dress.
This post was published at an earlier date and has been updated.