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Coat Fashion History

Various Cloak, Coat and Jacket Terms

By Pauline Weston Thomas for


Cloak, Coat and Jacket - Terms and Fashion History


Various Cloak, Coat and Jacket Terms

This section began as a result of my verifying some cloaks and mantelets for a collector and seller of museum quality antique (100 year old) English clothing for ebay auctions.

When faced with so much variety of style, it's understandable that the wide range of costume history terms that exist are often confusing to those seeking to describe vintage garments or make articles for a theatrical production. 

Regular visitors know this site deals only with female costume history, and in this section I'm going to look at simplifying ways of helping site visitors understand the differences between the wide range of terms used for female cover ups as either cloaks, coats or jackets and found especially in the 19th century in the Brutish Isles until 1970.  

Many of you will be familiar with more modern terms like poncho or gilet, but may not be able to find a single other person who knows what a mantelet with lappets is or the difference between a Chesterfield and an Ulster coat.  Once terms like these go out of general use, it takes a designer using past costume as inspiration to revive them and put them back into general vocabulary.

Quite similar terminology is often applied to them all, even though they may look quite different. However you only have to think that we might call a pair of trousers a variety of names from jeans, denims, levis, flares, bootlegs, pants, Oxford bags, joggers, cords, pedal pushers to leggings and you realise why it is so confusing to come across such unfamiliar terms as pelerine or mantelet today.

Typical Coat Terms

Anyone researching costume cover ups, coats and jackets will eventually come across some of these words.  There are many more terms, but usually they relate to eras pre 1750 and include medieval terms for coats such as cote-hardie or ancient terms such as chlamys. 

Afghan, anorak,

Basque, Beatle jacket, blazer, bolero, bomber, Brandenburg, Burberry, British warm, battle jacket, blouson,

canezou, cape, cloak, car coat, cardigan, carmago, casaque, capote, capuchin, caftan, capelets, cardinal, Chesterfield, cocoon, cote-hardie

dinner jacket, dolman, duster, duffle, donkey, djellabah,

Eton, Eisenhower,

fleece, frock coat, a fur,

gilet, great coat, gabardine, greatcloak


jacket, jerkin, jigger, a leather,


Mackintosh, maxi, mantles, mantelets mantilla, mantua, Manteau,   

Nehru jacket, Norfolk,

overcoat, opera cloak, opera hood

pelerine, parka, pelisse, pardessus, paletot, poncho, pareo, paletot sac, pashmina, Palmerston, puffa,

raincoat, redingote, riding habit, reefer, raglan, Riding hood,

spencer, swagger, swaggerback, surcote, surtout, swing, stole, a suede

trenchcoat, topper, talma,

Visite, vest, waistcoat, windcheater, the Witzchoura, wrap,  wrapper


Zouave jacket, Zhivago coat

All the above are coats, jackets and cover ups, either short, long, heavy or light, sleeved or sleeveless.  Sometimes the terms are used with freedom to describe the same item at other times there are distinct differences and these are explained further on.

In the next few pages you will find an explanation of the various coat terms, plus as time permits more and more simplified silhouette line drawing I have made or other illustrations. 

For those dating vintage costume this will be especially useful.  I've always thought that nothing beats a simple line drawing for understanding the elements of a fashion style and the subtle change in line that gradually occurs.  There are also links throughout this section to glossary terms already sufficiently covered in other sections on the site.

Next page looks at the difference between cloaks and capes.


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About looks at women's costume and fashion history and analyses the mood of an era.  Changes in technology, leisure, work, cultural and moral values. Homelife and politics also contribute to lifestyle trends, which in turn influence the clothes we wear.  These are the changes that make any era of society special in relation to the study of the costume of a period.Fashion History can take no responsibility for any information on the site which may cause you error, loss or costs incurred from use of the information and links either directly or indirectly.  This site is owned, designed, written and developed by author: Pauline Thomas and Guy Thomas. This site is designed to be viewed in 1024 X 768 or higher.

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