What is a Parker Coat?

Janis Adams
Janis Adams
A parker coat is commonly referred to as a parka.
A parker coat is commonly referred to as a parka.

A parker coat, also commonly referred to as a parka, is an outer wear jacket with a thick lining designed specifically for cold weather wear. The traditional form of the jacket comes to knee length and does not have a drawstring waist, as the anorak jacket to which is it often likened. Originally, parker coats where lined with a heavy wool material, close to a blanket weight.

Often with a fur lined detachable collar, the parker coat proved to keep not only the majority of the body insulated from frigid temperatures, but it also can keep the face safe from the elements. The hood can be pulled tightly around the face leaving a small tunnel through which those wearing it have a limited range of site.

Government and tactical forces have long employed the parker coat as part of standard winter wear. These coats prove to be good for withstanding the elements as well as durable. The only major flaws of this design are the limited visibility and decreased hearing range. As time progressed, thinner lining, which still provided extreme protection from the cold, was developed making maneuverability much more manageable instead of limited as it had once been. These extreme-weather jackets remain common military apparel.

In the 1970s, this style became very popular when it was marketed to the public. Similar to their military counterparts, they were lined with a plaid wool and had a number of handy pockets throughout the inside and outside of the jacket. The most common colors were dark blue or olive drab. Most did not have real fur collars but instead had a faux fur that was often detachable.

Though originally made for men, the parker coat or parka became a popular jacket for women toward the end of the 1970s. The style of the parker coat became somewhat modified to be more consistent with modern fashion. Shoulder pads were added in the 1980s and sateen became a popular fabric. In the 1990s the style again evolved, with these jackets becoming more fitted and figure flattering. Though the length was also commonly shortened, the jacket still maintained much of its original identity. Through the years the parker coat has been adapted and changed to fit the style and the times.

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Discussion Comments


In Britain the parker coat is called the cagoule. I have also seen the word spelled with a "K" in place of the "C". Either way, it's a lightweight parka and it is more easily carried than the bulkier parkas that people use to protect themselves from very cold temperatures. As you would expect, the waterproof characteristic of the coat makes it very popular in England.


When I was a kid, the parker coat was more about comfort, and there was little consideration for how appealing the coats were in terms of making a fashion statement. The coats are still great for staying warm, but people now wear them in areas that don't get particularly cold. In these places, fashion is the primary reason for the coat's popularity. It's amazing how styles change from generation to generation.


When I hear the word parka, I think of the coats the Inuit people wear. Whenever you see a documentary or fictional depiction of these people one of the most notable aspects of their clothing is the parka. The Inuits have several names for the individual types of parkas depending on whether it is a men's coat or women's coat or child's coat. I'm pretty sure "parker coat" is not one of the terms they use.


@mobilian - I agree that the term parka is more common in everyday usage by lay people, but the term parker coat is often used by people in the clothing industry and in other certain circles. I'm not sure where the term parker coat originated, but I do know that the word parka comes from a language spoken by groups of people in northern Russia.


I only recently heard the term parker coat. I was unaware exactly what it was until I read this article. "Parker coat" sounds more like it was derived from the English language. I wonder why it is less used, and where does the term parka come from originally? Does anyone know?

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    • A parker coat is commonly referred to as a parka.
      By: toomler
      A parker coat is commonly referred to as a parka.