Is it a coat or is it a Jacket?

We’re so quick to use words willy nilly these days without really realising where they come from or what they actually stand for. I thought it would be interesting to look at all the words associated with Coats, Jackets, Blazers and so on and really get to the bottom of their origins and the distinction between all of the styles.

Coats were originally split into two garments, an under coat and a more expressionable over coat. These days the under coat has disappeared but the over coat still remains. Coats tended to be long and an over coat would be something you would wear with a top hat. Jackets on the other hand were shorter. There were so many variations on the coat that served different purposes, were classed as formal wear, or distinguished you from your peers.
A Frock coat was a knee length men’s coat found during the 19th century. Morning coats, tailcoats and a dinner jacket were classed as formal wear. Smoking Jackets and Lounge Jackets would be informal garments you would wear in the home to relax.

For women, a Basque was a corset type jacket, fitted tightly around the waist which would flare out over the hips and lower skirt and a Spencer was a woollen tail coat with the tails cut off, a shorter jacket made with the same patterns as you would a dress.

Overcoats tended to be incredibly long and would fall beneath the knees, where as a topcoat was shorter and finished at the knees.

Jackets included Blazers, Anoraks, Duffel Coats, and spread into industries that needed standardised uniforms such as the military, food industry- chef’s jackets and biker jackets.

All are based on one simple part of the design whether that be they are longer- a coat or shorter- a jacket.