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Whatever style you choose, here are some tips to keep in mind when shopping for a new coat:

Make sure the coat's sleeves are long enough to cover the sleeves of your jacket or sweater by a half-inch.

Make sure the coat is long enough to cover your longest skirt (a good length is an inch longer than your longest skirt).

Try on different styles -- straight, fitted and swing -- to see which one works best with your body type.

Remember that a light-colored coat will show dirt more quickly than a dark one.

If you spend time walking outdoors or waiting at bus stops, choose a coat that buttons to the neckline and has close-fitting cuffs to keep out wind and blowing snow.

Wear scarves not only for warmth but also to keep collars clean. Oily stains from hair and skin can stain fabric -- especially leathers and suedes.

Follow the care label instructions when cleaning coats, and always remove spots and stains on coats as soon as they happen.

When storing a coat, use a padded or wooden hanger. Avoid hanging them on coat racks.

-- Susan Martin