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Parkas, Jackets and Coats

Parkas and jackets and coats – oh my!

Maybe you've noticed as you're Googling your way across the online that men's outerwear pieces go by different names: parkas, jackets, coats and even stadium coat – which, it turns out, is not actually a coat for a stadium, but a coat you would wear to a stadium, like Lambeau Field, home of the world's greatest football team, the Green Bay Packers, and the place where my wife was present for the very first Lambeau leap. But I digress.

Why the different names? What do they mean? And why the different names?

Boy, you ask a lot of questions, don't you? And not a one about "Where can I find winter jackets for men?"

To help us get started, I turned to a book I keep on my shelf but don't look at very often, entitled, "Dictionary." If you haven't read it, I recommend getting a copy. It has all kinds of information about a wide variety of topics, including the meanings of many common words. Words like "jacket," which, according to the so-called expert word people who wrote the "dictionary," means, "a short coat."

"A short coat?" It seems that in order to understand what a jacket is, we need to know what a "coat" is.

What is a "coat"?

Good question, even though it's not a question specifically about "men's winter coats."

So I turned the pages (one nice thing about this book is that all of the entries are arranged alphabetically, making them a lot easier to find) to the word, "coat." The author says that a coat is "an outer garment with sleeves, covering at least the upper of the body." Now comes the confusing part. The author also states that "coat" can mean "a natural integument or covering, as the hair, fur, or wool of an animal, the bark of a tree, or the skin of a fruit."

I have no idea what "integument" means, but it sounds like a jacket can be the covering of a short fruit, like a strawberry as opposed to the skin of a banana, which, by the way, is my favorite because it has a peel ("appeal" – get it?). Not that you would go around wearing banana peels as your winter coats.

I was going to use this "dictionary" to try to learn what "integument" means, but I got hungry and walked down to the cafe to get a scone. They were out of blueberry scones, which I prefer, so I got a raspberry scone. It lacked "integument" in my opinion, but that's a story for another time.

So, what is a parka?

With the mystery of jackets and coats solved and my belly full of scone, we can finally answer the parka question. Or the question you didn't ask about a "men's winter parka." A parka, we are told, is "a fur coat, shirt-like and hooded, for wear in the arctic." Feeling this couldn't be the complete answer, I persevered and kept reading. After trudging through a second sentence, I found in a third sentence verifying that a parka could also be, "any coat or jacket with a hood." So a men's winter parka could be a coat that has a hood, or a jacket that has a hood, but if the hood is removable and you take it off, you're back to wearing a coat or a jacket. And if you're wearing a banana peel, I don't know where this leaves us, but it leaves you out in the cold.

In conclusion

In order of length, men's winter coats can be classified as jacket (shortest, usually hip length), coat (longer than a jacket), parka (longest of the three). In order of value, you can't do better than a Squall® jacket or parka by Lands' End. They just can't be beat.