Difference Between Similar Terms and Objects

Difference Between Jacket and Coat

jacketJacket vs Coat

Is it a jacket or a coat? Many would say they are just the same and they can be used interchangeably. They are two related but different items of garments and even some fashion experts get confused with these two types of clothing.

By definition, a coat is a long item of clothing worn by male or female. The functionality of the garment would be for additional warmth but it had been a part of fashion especially in the early nineteenth century.

However, it rooted as an item worn as protection from weapon attacks. Originally, it may spell as “cote” and during the Middle Ages, there was an item of clothing called as “coat of mail”. It was actually a chain mail. A strong item of clothing that can protect an individual against minor weapon attacks.

Eventually, the coat had become more as a fashion item and in the 19th century, it was worn by almost all people. That time, coats may be considered as undercoat or an overcoat. But eventually, coats will only denote overcoats.

The term jacket had derived from coats, undercoats to be exact. Traditionally, jackets used to refer to specific types of undercoat. It is definitely shorter than the usual coats. Jackets’ lengths will typically extend to the upper thigh.

The modern times had blurred this distinction and people had started to call jackets as coats and vice versa.

But there are still some ways to distinguish them from each other’¦. well, sort of. Coats now often refer to sport coats while jackets are now considered as suit jackets.

In fashion, coats are something worn for more casual settings. The “sport” term is added because in its purest form, these coats are worn during hunting or in any outdoor “sportsman” activity.

Coats (sport coats) are traditionally made with heavier and more durable fabrics such as tweeds and twills. Some are patterned like the early version of camouflage. It is made more with a more relaxed look and a functional fit. The padding on the shoulder may be very light or no padding at all. Coats are often considered informal for everyday wear and will not necessary require you to have matching pants or trousers.

Jackets, or sometimes called “suits” as in “suit jackets”, are now considered to be very formal and it is something to be worn with matching pants or trousers. Mostly, it should be a part of the overall silhouette of the look. A clean flow of the jacket to its matching trousers will produce a smooth silhouette. When the jacket is worn with non-matching pants, it will produce a weird look.

Suit jackets are well-constructed and it is designed to appear tailored and dressy. Unlike many coats, it will have evident padding on the shoulders. It will also have canvas interlining. Jackets are on the formal side, with constructed lapels, piped pockets (with flaps or no flaps), lining and bone or buttons.


1. In a traditional sense, coats are considered to be longer overcoats and jackets are specific type of short undercoats.
2. Modern distinctions would make jackets more on the formal side while coats are for worn for casual settings.
3. Coats will have little to no shoulder padding while jackets will have evident shoulder padding.
4. Coats may be worn with non-matching pants while a suit jacket is always made with matching trousers.

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  1. A lot of waffle. Length is the only bearing factor on day-to-day modern usage.

    Jacket; everything from a skinhead’s “bomber jacket” to diplomat’s “dinner jacket” (and everything in between) is a jacket because it’s short.

    Coat; “great,” “over,” “morning” or “tail,” they all come to upper thigh or below.

    Exceptions prove a rule e.g. pea coats.

    Getting into older/anachronistic usage, apparently old-school tailors refer to a suit jacket as a coat, hence “overcoat.” Just to confuse the issue!

  2. Pop culture has its own interpretation as well…
    “Short Skirt/Long Jacket” is the first single by American alternative rock band Cake from their 2001 album Comfort Eagle. It is often misconceived to be named ‘I Want a Girl’.

  3. @callmeAl I think you’ve got it dot on… the rest of this article is clear as mud and extremely inaccurate. You can definitely wear a leather jacket with a pair of jeans.

    Jacket = short
    Coat = Long

  4. Thaxs so much I was calling a suit jacket acoat here in uganda most of us call it coats not jackets i have learnt alot

  5. This program is very good it gives full information and I like

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