MUNDANE MYSTERIES: Coat Or Jacket…What’s The Difference?

With the cool snap we experienced this past weekend, you may have had to put on a jacket. Or, was it a coat? What’s the real difference between a coat & a jacket, anyway? Well, according to the professionals, there’s actually only one real distinct difference between a coat & a jacket.

A lot of people feel the two terms are interchangeable. Some believe a coat is a heavier garment, while a jacket is thinner and/or lighter. But, according to the outerwear company Lands’ End, it really actually comes down to…length. Jackets usually cut off around your waist or hips, while coats, on the other hand, don’t stop until they’re part way down your legs (some even going all the way down to your ankles). When we laymen say “jackets”, we mostly mean jean jackets, bomber jackets, leather jackets, starter jackets, and suit jackets. And think about it…all of those are short. Trench coats & overcoats, on the other hand, are usually long. Now, of course there are exceptions, like sport coats, which are shorter. The same goes for pea coats.

The level of warmth each one offers actually does matter, though it’s not so much about their thickness and/or heaviness. Think about it, though: coats (which are longer) cover more of you, so they’re generally considered the warmer option based sheerly on the amount of surface area they cover. However, there are so many exceptions to that particular trend that it doesn’t really work as a way to tell the two apart. Plus, there are plenty of jackets that are made from down feathers or other heavy-duty materials, which are much better at keeping you from being cold than, say, a trench coat would be.

Still, in the end, it really shouldn’t matter if you mix up the two terms in casual conversation, calling a jacket a coat or vice versa. Folks generally will know what you’re talking about. But, knowing the real difference might be able to help you narrow down your search the next time you’re shopping online for your next coat or jacket.

Got a Mundane Mystery you’d like solved? Send me a message via social media (@AndyWebbRadioVoice), or shoot me an email at [email protected].

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