Petite Fashion Challenges

Rant: Why don’t petite winter coats exist?

Rant time: Why doesn’t anyone make a proper winter coat in petite sizes?

A good winter coat is a major investment. A really good one will run upwards of $500-$600, with the top brands running upwards of $1000. It’s something you can expect to wear every single day for months on end, season after season. It’s also a necessity in a city with blizzards, bitterly cold wind chills, and where temperatures of -30 are not unheard-of. I spend a good amount of time outdoors and rely on public transit to get around. A really warm winter coat — down filling, fur trim, the works — is not a luxury but a necessity.

And yet…

Every. Single. Winter. Coat. comes in basic XS-S-M-L-XL sizes. There are no special sizes anywhere. If you go into a shop and ask about petites, the confused salespeople point you towards the XS sizes. (It’s made worse here in Quebec by the fact that the word “petite” literally means “small” in French).

This is my second straight year when I’m hunting for a new coat, and there are NONE to be found. Everything I try on is too long in the waist, such that the waist falls at the hips and I have to size up to a medium or so in order to be able to close it. Meanwhile, the shoulders are huge, the sleeves far too long, and the hood and fur collar so long that if I put them up on my head, they fall down and cover my entire face so that I can’t even see. Plus, the coats all hit at awkward lengths. Basically, they’re designed for much taller women.

Coats that stand up to Canadian winters

Sure, there are some coats from US or European companies that say “petite” on them. They may even fit me well. But I think that it’s cute that they’re marketed as “winter” coats. Here they would be a spring or fall coats at best. We iz cold in Canada, eh?

Popular brands of parkas for the coldest temperature here in Montreal include the high end ones like Canada Goose, Mackage, Soia & Kyo, Kanuk, Ookpik, Nobis, Pajar, and the more affordable options like Noize, Sicily and Point Zero, Oxygen, Froccella, etc. Not a single brand making these ultra-warm winter coats offers petite sizing. It just plain doesn’t exist. And before you ask, yes, I’ve tried them all on to see if any of them might work for me in regular sizes. The answer is nope, not even close.

The only petite options are those from the US, like Nordstrom, Eddie Bauer, Lands End or LL Bean. All of their so-called “warm” winter coats wouldn’t stand up to the cold of a Montreal winter. I have an in-between jacket for the winter shoulder season or warmer winter days. What I need is one for when it’s -30 outside. And those are only made for tall women, it seems.

I’ve tried everything from the mid-range to the very high end brands. Same problem pretty much universally: nothing fits. Not even close.

There is literally no such thing as a petite sized winter coat. And, unlike other items of clothing, winter coats cannot be tailored.

I have an old coat that literally drowns me. It’s at least five sizes too big, and doesn’t keep me even remotely warm anymore. I also have my ski jacket, but that’s not practical as an everyday winter coat. Meanwhile, we’re well into the cold weather and I’m not keen on spending another winter freezing my butt off.

You’d think that some enterprising brand somewhere would tap into this vastly under-served market need, no? So why don’t they?

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