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Coat (clothing)

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Title: Coat (clothing)  
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Subject: Clothing, Outerwear, Clothing terminology, Shirt, Windbreaker
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Coat (clothing)

Man wearing a coat, painting by Julian Fałat, 1900

A coat is a garment worn by both men and women,[1] for warmth or fashion. Coats typically have long sleeves and are open down the front, closing by means of buttons, zippers, hook-and-loop fasteners, toggles, a belt, or a combination of some of these. Other possible features include collars, shoulder straps and hoods.

Contents

  • Etymology 1
  • Coats, jackets and overcoats 2
  • Types 3
    • 18th and 19th centuries 3.1
      • Men's 3.1.1
      • Women's 3.1.2
    • Modern 3.2
  • See also 4
  • Bibliography 5
  • References 6

Etymology

The Persians, based in what is now Iran, introduced two garments to the history of clothing: trousers and seamed fitted coats.[2] Coat is one of the earliest clothing category words in English, attested as far back as the early Middle Ages. (See also Clothing terminology.) An early use of coat in English is coat of mail (chainmail), a tunic-like garment of metal rings, usually knee — or mid-calf length.

The medieval and renaissance coat (generally spelled cote by costume historians) is a midlength, sleeved men's outer garment, fitted to the waist and buttoned up the front, with a full skirt in its essentials, not unlike the modern coat.[3]

By the eighteenth century, overcoats had begun to supplant capes and cloaks as outer wear, and by the mid-twentieth century the terms jacket and coat became confused for recent styles; the difference in use is still maintained for older garments.

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.[1] The older usage of the word coat can still be found in the expression "to wear a coat and tie",[4] 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.[5] 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 coatum

An overcoat is designed to be worn as the outermost garment worn as outdoor wear;[6] 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 a 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".[7]

Speakers of American English sometimes informally use the words jacket and coat interchangeably.[8]

Types

18th and 19th centuries

Men's

Some of these styles are still worn. Note that for this period, only coats of the under-coat variety are listed, and overcoats are excluded.

Women's

  • Basque, a tightly fitted, kneelength women's coat of the 1870s
  • Spencer, a waistlength, frequently doublebreasted, men's jacket of the 1790s, adopted as a women's fashion from the early nineteenth century
  • Redingote a type of coat; the name is derived the English "riding coat",

Modern

The terms coat and jacket are both used around the world. The modern terms "jacket" and "coat" are often used interchangeably as terms, although the term "coat" tends to be used to refer to longer garments.

See also

Bibliography

  • Antongiavanni, Nicholas: The Suit, HarperCollins Publishers, New York, 2006. ISBN 0-06-089186-6
  • Byrd, Penelope: The Male Image: men's fashion in England 1300-1970. B. T. Batsford Ltd, London, 1979. ISBN 978-0-7134-0860-7
  • Croonborg, Frederick: The Blue Book of Men's Tailoring. Croonborg Sartorial Co., New York and Chicago, 1907
  • Cunnington, C. Willett; Cunnington, Phillis (1959): Handbook of English Costume in the 19th Century, Plays Inc, Boston, 1970 reprint
  • Devere, Louis: The Handbook of Practical Cutting on the Centre Point System (London, 1866); revised and edited by R. L. Shep. R. L. Shep, Mendocino, California, 1986. ISBN 0-914046-03-9
  • Doyle, Robert: The Art of the Tailor, Sartorial Press Publications, Stratford, Ontario, 2005. ISBN 0-9683039-2-7
  • Mansfield, Alan; Cunnington, Phillis: Handbook of English Costume in the 20th Century 1900-1950, Plays Inc, Boston, 1973 ISBN 0-8238-0143-8
  • Stephenson, Angus (editor): The Shorter Oxford Dictionary. Oxford University Press, New York, 2007
  • Unknown author: The Standard Work on Cutting Men’s Garments. 4th ed. Originally pub. 1886 by Jno J. Mitchell, New York. ISBN 0-916896-33-1
  • Vincent, W. D. F.: The Cutter’s Practical Guide. Vol II "All kinds of body coats". The John Williamson Company, London, circa 1893.
  • Waugh, Norah: The Cut of Men's Clothes 1600-1900, Routledge, London, 1964. ISBN 0-87830-025-2
  • Whife, A. A (ed): The Modern Tailor Outfitter and Clothier; 4th revised ed. 3 vols. The Caxton Publishing Company Ltd, London, 1951

References

  1. ^ a b Oxford English Dictionary. (1989) 2nd ed. coat, n. 1 "An outer garment worn by men..."
  2. ^ "Encarta". Archived from the original on 2009-10-31. 
  3. ^  
  4. ^ McGraw-Hill Dictionary of American Idioms and Phrasal Verbs (2002)
  5. ^ Oxford English Dictionary. (1989) 2nd ed. jacket, n. "...a short coat without tails..."
  6. ^ Oxford English Dictionary. (1989) 2nd ed. overcoat, n. "A large coat worn over the ordinary clothing..."
  7. ^ Christopher Booker (1980) The Seventies
  8. ^ Oxford English Dictionary, Oxford University Press, 1971

General: Picken, Mary Brooks: The Fashion Dictionary, Funk and Wagnalls, 1957. (1973 edition ISBN 978-0-308-10052-7)

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