Жакеты сезона весна-лето 2019. Иллюстрация: evelinakhromtchenko.com

Is the jacket for men or for women? The fashion-historian Alexander Vasiliev asserts, that the term has French origins. The term has appeared in XIX century, thanks to the French tailor Jacques, who has offered a shortened version of a tail-coat to men, which immediately became fashionable. The tail-coat on French is «pie», and «pie de Jacques» means literally «a tail-coat from Jacques». At the same time, Jacques has created a women’s version of a the popular men’s jacket, but fitted by feminine shapes. He called it after himself by adding a French diminutive suffix: this way the women’s version of «pie de Jacques» has been named the girly «jacquette».

Let’s go through the most rhetorical questions I see on social networks, which should trap me, as the authors of these questions think.

If the cut of the women’s jacket is identical to the men’s coat, how should I call this piece of clothes?

– The cut absolutely doesn’t matter, so as if the jacket reminds you of captain’s tunic, president’s coat, private college student’s blazer, french jacket, tail-coat of a Noble prize laureate, or James Bond’s tuxedo. The jacket is a general name of the women’s smoking top. At the beginning it has been cut for women who wanted to wear a men’s coat. So, the jacket is practically the coat, but for women: because the difference of breast and hips between men and women has never been cancelled.

In case I wear my husband’s coat, how should I call it?
– Call it simply: «the coat». Your husband’s coat doesn’t become a jacket, if you wear it. The term «coat», in this case, would mean, that you wear a piece of clothes from masculine wardrobe. There was a famous line in the song of Evgeny Ptychkin, with the lyrics by Igor Shaferan «The chamomiles hid. I took off vigorously my slightly thrown-on coat…» This was about a young guy, who threw his coat over the shoulders of the girl at the evening (otherwise why would chamomiles hide?) Let’s not forget the continuation of this Soviet pop masterpiece: “… I had enough power to feel my pride. And I told him goodbye, but he didn’t ask for forgiveness.» The offended girl gave the guy his coat back and left. If the coat was an object of the girl, instead of «taking it off vigorously», she would close it vigorously and leave. In 1970 the verses of Shaferan were clear and obvious to everyone, since the education in the country had still been on a very high level back then, and the words «coat» and «jacket» weren’t messed up by anyone: the difference was clear to the million listeners.

Why should exactly the top of feminine and masculine suit be called by two different words? The «trousers» are easily worn by both.
– One more time: the jacket has initially been created for women, the coat – for men. That’s why women had never borrowed this piece from masculine wardrobe, there have always been an analogue for female gender. The trousers, though, have been brought to the feminine wardrobe from the men’s in XX century. The word «trousers» was borrowed along with the piece.

I red it online, that there is the feminine version of a typical men’s coat.
– But did you check the one who wrote it? Can you trust this source? Maybe you should also read what someone’s art creations on a street fence and consider it an academic standart.

I have seen the term «coat» – in feminine interpretation – in women’s section of a famous online clothes store. I don’t think they could mess up the writing, could they?
– Yes, they could. They are salesman, not philologists. Moreover, the international websites aren’t Russified in Russia. And often-times not by Russian native speakers. They could make a mistake – just as you did. And it will be corrected. I myself wrote to several representatives of international fashion websites in Russia to ask them to help out the colleagues in New York and Milan to organize with the Russian fashion terms.

One stylist who I follow on Instagram always calls this feminine piece of clothes a coat!
– Well, this «stylist», who doesn’t really care about fashion terminology, demonstrates right away the lack of education in this field. The difference between the men’s coat and the women’s smoking jacket is obvious to all professionals. This stylist is fake, then – so don’t spend your precious time on his profile.

And what about the information in reference books? Often times, the feminine jacket is called a masculine coat on Wikipedia.
– Be careful with all reference books, like Wikipedia – you never know who writes for them, because it’s the people’s encyclopedia. All professional handbooks, clothing design textbooks of any level and also in all dictionaries, approved by Russian Academy of Sciences, the term «coat» (from French pie-de-jacques, rus. pidj:ak) is referred to menswear, and the term «jacket» (from French jacquette, rus. j:aqete) to womenswear.


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Photo: Timur Artamonov for Elle-Russia

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