The Outerwear Guide

What's the difference between a parka and a field jacket? Find out with our glossary to men's outerwear.

1. Bomber Jacket - Designed in England, in 1926, by an American former stunt pilot named Leslie Irvin, the bomber jacket was originally made in sheepskin for warmth. Allied crews during World War II wore Irvin's shearling versions, but the iconic leather bomber was developed for the American Air Corps by Schott Bros. Reaching down only to the waist, it offered warmth and protection in the cockpit without any cumbersome bulk.

2. Epaulettes - A decorative shoulder ornament, the epaulette was originally used by military organizations to indicate the wearer's regimental rank. Today, the term covers any sort of shoulder strap or detail. Epaulettes are commonly found on trench coats and other items of clothing with military origins.

3. Field Jacket - Another staple of the modern man’s wardrobe that has evolved from military use, the field jacket is quintessentially rugged and masculine, perfect for days off, weekends in the country and sports events. The M65 style, originally issued to American soldiers to wear in Vietnam, remains popular. And the loose fit, durable fabric and abundance of pockets make any field jacket a worthwhile investment.

4. Overcoat - Any type of long coat intended to be worn as the outermost garment, an overcoat usually extends below the knee. These coats are most commonly used in winter months when warmth is more important.

5. Parka - A parka (or anorak) is a type of coat with a hood, often lined with fur. The length of a parka falls below the hip, for warmth and protection.

6. Peacoat - The peacoat takes its name from pijjekker, the Dutch word for the rugged, warm, blue woollen fabric traditionally used for these short-cut, double-breasted jackets. First worn by European sailors in the 18th century, the peacoat offered maximum warmth to the body without encumbering the legs, a most practical design and a smart look that have ensured its continued popularity.

7. Trench Coat - In 1879, British manufacturer Thomas Burberry took out a patent for a gabardine cotton fabric that was waterproof and wind-resistant. During the Boer War and World War I, British troops wore these coats in the trenches. The details we know so well today were practical then – epaulettes to secure equipment; a gun flap for protection on the right shoulder; heavily stitched belts with D rings for hanging other pieces of equipment. Today, menswear designers continue to find inspiration in its unmistakable lines.

8. Vest - A sleeveless jacket that is waist-length, the vest is often worn as a layering piece in the transitional seasons.

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