Difference Between Coats & Jackets
Fashion Questions & Answers

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Here is a rather popular question for you fashionistas.  What is the difference between a coat and jacket?  Are the two terms interchangeable.  According to some people the words can be used interchangeable, but some experts say that they should not be.

When thinking of the word coat, it may be best to think of an overcoat.  This is something that men wear over a suit, blazer, or tuxedo in cold weather.  Women can wear them over tailored clothing or dresses.

When thinking for the word jacket, it may be best to think of a leather jacket, ski jacket, denim jackets or down jackets.

Coats and jackets are both garments worn by men, women, and children for warmth or fashion.  They are both clothing used for the upper body.

Coats have tended to be longer than jackets. The most common understanding is that a jacket goes to approximately the waist. A coat typically goes approximately down to your thighs or longer.

As with most things in the world of fashion, their is not one "exact" answer to this question.  Unfortunately, the industry does not have standard sizes for items.  Therefore, we can't say that a jacket is "x" number of inches long and a coat is "y" number of inches long.

Regarding the weight, consumers often think of jackets as being thinner and more appropriate for fall weather and a coat, would be thicker and more appropriate for the colder winter months.  However, a jacket & coats can come in various weights.  As far as we know, their is not a specific weight to the garment that separates a coat from a jacket.

Coats or jackets typically have long sleeves and are open down the front (sometimes toward the side), closing by means of buttons, snaps, toggles, zippers, hook-and-loop fasteners (velcro), a belt, or a combination of some of these closure methods.

Other possible features of a coat or jacket include collars, shoulder straps and possibly a hood.

Some jackets or coats can serve as protective clothing.

Bot jackets & coats can be outerwear.  Outerwear is clothing worn outdoors.

What is your opinion on this subject?  Let us know your thoughts.  Please help us answer the question, "what is the difference between a coat & jacket?" (this link will take you to the Fashion Industry community question on Google+).

Without trying to make this issue more confusing, it is important to at least point out that a "sports coat" or "sports jacket" is another type of garment to consider.  Those are more similar to a blazer or suit jacket.

If you would like to read more on this subject, the following may also be helpful to you.

Coats, jackets and overcoats

In the early nineteenth century, coats were divided into under-coats and overcoats. The term under-coat is now archaic but denoted the fact that the word coat could be both the outermost layer for outdoor wear (overcoat) or the coat worn under that (under-coat). However, the term coat has begun to denote just the overcoat rather than the under-coat. The older usage of the word coat can still be found in the expression "to wear a coat and tie", which does not mean that wearer has on an overcoat. Nor do the terms tailcoat, morning coat or house coat denote types of overcoat. Indeed, an overcoat may be worn over the top of a tailcoat. In tailoring circles, the tailor who makes all types of coats is called a coat maker. Similarly, in American English, the term sports coat is used to denote a type of jacket not worn as outerwear (overcoat) (sports jacket in British English).

The term jacket is a traditional term usually used to refer to a specific type of short under-coat. Typical modern jackets extend only to the upper thigh in length, whereas older coats such as tailcoats are usually of knee length. The modern jacket worn with a suit is traditionally called a lounge coat (or a lounge jacket) in British English and a sack coat in American English. The American English term is rarely used. Traditionally, the majority of men dressed in a coat and tie, although this has become gradually less widespread since the 1960s. Because the basic pattern for the stroller (black jacket worn with striped trousers in British English) and dinner jacket (tuxedo in American English) are the same as lounge coats, tailors traditionally call both of these special types of jackets a coat.

An overcoat is designed to be worn as the outermost garment worn as outdoor wear; while this use is still maintained in some places, particularly in Britain, elsewhere the term coat is commonly used mainly to denote only the overcoat, and not the under-coat. A topcoat is generally slightly shorter overcoat, if any distinction is to be made. Overcoats worn over the top of knee length coats (under-coats) such as frock coats, dress coats, and morning coats are cut to be a little longer than the under-coat so as to completely cover it, as well as being large enough to accommodate the coat underneath. The length of an overcoat varies: mid-calf being the most frequently found and the default when current fashion isn't concerned with hemlines. Designs vary from knee-length to the ankle length briefly fashionable in the early 1970s and known (to contrast with the usurped mini) as the "maxi".  Speakers of American English sometimes informally use the words jacket and coat interchangeably.