I have been looking for a coat for so very long. I’m in college in Minnesota, and I know layers are key, but I want a pretty coat! I currently have a peacoat from Land’s End, but I think it makes me look bulky, and it’s boring. Also, I’m tiny (4′11″). Help?

Many moons ago, I was on a search for the perfect red peacoat, but it never came my way, so I settled for a boring black one from the Gap. Luckily, the retail gods heard my cries, and now there are pretty peacoats everywhere! Since I live in L.A., I must thank you for letting me live vicariously through you by helping you find your perfect winter coat.

First, don’t think you have to settle for a “safe” color, like black. Yes, it’s classic, but if you want something that makes a statement, go for bright. This J. Crew coat comes in a variety of fun colors. Or else choose a coat with a cute pattern, like this plaid number from ModCloth. Keep an eye out for interesting details, like faux fur, lace collars, bold buttons, or contrasted trim. As for your petite frame, you can always take it to a tailor for a custom fit. But let’s say you do find a great-fitting coat in black or navy: you can always jazz that baby up with scarves, vintage brooches, patterned tights, and funky shoes. Maybe you can even sew a secret pocket inside to keep your switchblade comb or emergency Fun Dip! —Marie

Clockwise from top left: Majesty, $208, J. Crew; Met Your March, $109, ModCloth; Dynamic Duotone, $105, ModCloth; Mulberry Scones, $200, ModCloth; I Heart Plaid, $278, ModCloth; fur-collar coat, $140, Asos

Hi! I like thrifting, and I live a pretty ethical lifestyle. I was wondering if thrifting is ethical, since there is a chance that the clothing could be sweatshop-made? Thank you. —Ember, Maryland

I think it is so, so cool that you’re making a conscious effort to live an ethical lifestyle. In a world economy where making money is the most important thing—trumping, say, human rights and fair labor practices—putting thought into where your dollars go is, IMHO, a great way to use one of the only voices we have as consumers to make a change.

Now, thrifting: you bet your life that there are clothes in thrift stores everywhere that have been made in factories and/or sweatshops. But I believe the good outweighs the bad. Since you are not buying the clothes new, from a retail store, your consumer dollars are quieter. They do not go to the stores that tolerate deplorable work environments in the interest of cheap labor, which means your money isn’t creating a demand for more badly manufactured clothing. Instead, it goes to the thrift stores themselves. Some thrift stores are local. Some are chains. Many are charities. Lots of them offer job opportunities to people who need job-training skills, people that sometimes have a hard time getting jobs in other places, and by supporting those thrift stores, you are helping to create those jobs. But there can be other factors. I myself try not to shop at the Salvation Army, because the Salvation Army has a problem with gay people, but you can decide which thrift stores are worthy of your money.

Another bonus: thrifting is recycling. You are buying clothes that might have otherwise been tossed into landfills. So many articles of clothing are in perfect condition; people get rid of appalling amounts of barely used stuff. You are giving a garment new life, instead of buying something new, and I think that’s lovely. There are people who argue that if you’re not broke or poor, thrifting is stealing from those who really need the clothes at those prices, but have you been inside a thrift store lately? There is no shortage of clothes.

So I think thrifting is a great way to be eco-conscious while not creating a demand for more crappy labor practices. But obviously, it’s up to you. —Krista

Thanks to Rookie, I’m getting better about loving my body, but my thighs are still a problem spot for me. I wear so many dresses to cover them, but it’s hard to wear dresses all the time, so I really want to find shorts and skirts that work. The problem is that if they are too short, my thighs will look extra big when I sit in the tiny desks at my high school, and I feel extremely self-conscious. And since I live in Florida, jeans are not an option. If you have any advice, I would greatly appreciate it.

Darling, I have me some thick thighs, and I’m still strutting around in whatever and whenever! I tend to break “the rules” when it comes to dressing for my body. I have short, thick legs and wear things I’m apparently not supposed to, like combat boots and short skirts, because I like them, and I feel comfortable in them! I’m not saying you have to do this, too, but please don’t be afraid of wearing something just because your thighs touch. I personally like wearing my shorts with tights. Depending on what you pair with them, you can go for a cute chorus-girl look, with high-waisted shorts, patterned tights, and a chunky-heeled spectator shoe. You can also try something a little more badass, with ripped black tights, frayed jean shorts, and a leather jacket. Either way, wearing tights helps prevent ye olde chub-rub, if that’s a problem for you like it is for moi!

In terms of skirts, I’d go with a length that is a couple of inches above the knee. Also, try to find a “fit and flare” skirt, which means one that is fitted at the waist and flares out at the bottom. This looks good on everyone, and you can see a couple of examples from Pinup Girl Clothing here and here. But if you want to be more casual, try wearing a T-shirt with an A-line skirt. Hope that helps! —Marie

So my boobs are small, but I like them that way. Now that I’m getting older, I feel ready to show them off a bit more. Do you have any advice for artistic, pretty ways to present my chest?

I am so happy to hear my small-chested sisters embrace their shape—it took me years to stop being self-conscious about my own chest size. First things first: have you considered ditching your bra? If you don’t need one, life is way more comfortable without it. I gave up wearing mine after reading an interview with the artist Astria Suparak, who said, “I hate the popular conception of an ideal breast as a nipple-less half-sphere.” Amen. The first few times I went braless, I was super self-conscious, especially in, you know, cold rooms. But it’s way easier to wear certain styles of tops, including anything backless or with a plunging neckline. If anybody tries to shame you for it, roll your eyes and tell them to grow up. If you are shy about not wearing a bra, try replacing it with a tank top or undershirt, and then see how you feel after a couple of weeks. Soon enough you probably won’t care.

If you prefer to go the bra route, there are so many cute options when support isn’t your main concern. Consider investing in a few frilly undergarments to wear with sheer blouses. Asos has a good selection, and American Eagle has frequent sales. Or, when the weather’s warm, think about wearing a bandeau, sports bra, or bralet as a top with a high-waisted skirt, like Meg from the blog Good Morning Midnight. Topshop has a wide selection, depending on how much skin you’re comfortable showing.

Finally, my fellow Rookie Naomi directed me to this fun blouse by LoveTits. —Anna

Even though I’m only 13, I already have pretty bad stretch marks on my shoulders, arms, and upper back. Because of this, I refuse to wear tank tops or any shirt that shows them. Any advice on how to make the stretch marks fade or go away? Or at least how to cover them up? —Meg

There are a few ways to approach this. In terms of making them go away, regular use of products like Bio-Oil, vitamin E oil, and cocoa butter (I like plain old Palmer’s) has been proven to help reduce the appearance of stretch marks and scars. But you have to be diligent about applying the product of your choice at least two times a day.

There are some pricier options that might have more-immediate results. If you have the option of consulting a dermatologist, you should do so. They’ll probably mention laser therapy, like pulsed-dye laser (PDL) treatments. As this is a cosmetic procedure, it probably won’t be covered by your insurance, and can cost thousands of dollars, but people who have used it have met with varying success. Combining procedures like this along with the products above is almost guaranteed to make a difference.

If you want to cover you marks in the meantime, consider shopping for tops with a quarter-length sleeve. For example, this striped one from Forever 21 is a stylish take on the classic sailor top, and it will keep your arms covered without stifling you in the warmer months.

Finally, I want you to know that my legs are covered in scars from years of scratching and picking at my skin. Sounds gross, right? Well, I did feel embarrassed about it at first, but the truth is we all have scars and marks and spots and dots that make us who we are. Generally, no one is even looking that closely at them. I know it’s easier said than done, but you will realize that your stretch marks don’t define you. So if all else fails, keep your head up and embrace them as little quirks. You’re only human, and so is everyone else. —Hannah ♦

If you have a style/beauty question for Marie & her Rookie team, please send it to [email protected].