Types of Jackets & Coats

Mention the terms blazer, cropped jacket, trench and car coat to a clothing designer and their response will indicate they understand the basic structure and length of what is being described. Although each type of jacket or coat may have a particular use, the details and fabrics the designer chooses can vary greatly. Detailing may vary from fashion season to fashion season, while the lingo used to identify each length remains the same.

The Blazer

The traditional blazer is a navy blue, double-breasted jacket that falls right below the hip and is detailed with metal buttons and a notched lapel. Unlike the suit jacket, the blazer fabric does not necessarily match the trousers or skirt it is worn with. Contemporary blazers are made in a variety of colors and are often used as uniforms for groups that require a visual identity including private organizations (country clubs, private schools) and businesses (airlines, auto rental facilities, retail stores). The fashion industry has expanded the traditional blazer to include the use of leather and woven fabrics and further detailing like braid at the shoulders, trim along pockets and buttons of shell and plastic.

The Cropped Jacket

The cropped jacket typically ends right above the waistline but can be hemmed anywhere between waistline and the top of the rib cage. The shape of a cropped jacket varies from fitted to loose and boxy and may or may not allow the wearer to button or zip it closed. Detailing varies widely, making the cropped jacket a fashion accessory in many cases rather than an item for warmth, like a coat. Bomber jackets and cropped versions of military jackets are popular cropped jacket styles.

The Trench Coat

Based on the styling of a World War I waterproof, military coat, the modern trench is cut at varying lengths between the hip and mid-calf and made from gabardine, cotton, vinyl or leather. Epaulets, a fabric belt (usually of the same fabric the coat is made of), hip level pockets, stand-up collars and double breasted detailing are hallmarks of the classic trench coat. Although early designs focused on the trench as a raincoat, today's trench is worn year-round, made in a variety of fabric weights and colors, and is not necessarily waterproof. A classic example of the trench coat is worn by Inspector Clouseau, played by Petter Seller, in the "Pink Panther" movie series.

The Car Coat

Referred to as a three-quarter length coat, typical car coat length ends somewhere between mid-hip and the knee. The length of the coat makes it a comfortable option for driving as opposed to a long, heavy winter coat, hence the name car coat. Contemporary designers create casual car coats in fabrics like wool, cotton duck and corduroy with simple details of self-fabric or color matched buttons, exterior side pockets, and upturned collars. Sherling and faux fur are used in winter car coat designs.