From Anoraks To Windbreakers: An Outerwear Glossary

For many, it’s still hotter than it’s been all year. Last fall is a distant memory and summer seems like it’s here to stay. The fact is, however, that summer is soon to set sail.

Fall is underway and before long, it’ll be time once again for hoodies, jackets, and coats galore. There’s no time like the present, when mounds of sunscreen and sweat are still dripping off our faces, to brush up on some outerwear terminology. And just what is outerwear?

Well, it’s the items we wear over our everyday clothes. Just think of it as the opposite of underwear and the confusion should end right there. Now that that’s settled, let’s get out our fashion notepads and jot down seven of the most commonly misunderstood outerwear terms.

1. Anorak

Anorak jacket

If you live in a colder climate, you probably have one of these in your closet. You may not know it, however! This term is also British slang, usually pertaining to a “nerd,” but since we’re all fashion nerds here, let’s embrace it!

An anorak is a hooded hip-length coat, a parka, usually lined with fleece. If you prefer not to wear real fur, you may purchase an anorak lined with faux fur, but during the coldest days of the year, when every breath feels like icicles piercing your lungs, real fur is your best bet for keeping warm. Some anoraks are filled with down feathers to add extra protection from the elements.

2. Bomber Jacket

bomber jacket

You’ve likely heard this term before, but possibly didn’t quite understand the reference. This type of jacket is certainly chic, but the name sounds a tad unsavory and a bit dangerous. The reason for this stems from the fact this sort of jacket was worn by pilots during WWI and WWII to keep them warm in their open cockpits. Tom Cruise popularized the bomber flight jacket in the 1986 film Top Gun in which he wore a G-1 designed by the U.S. Navy. Since then, bomber jackets have taken flight as an outwear trend for both men and women.

3. Cashmere


Usually synonymous with high-end, luxury knits, cashmere is a type of wool usually woven from goat fur. Yes, goat fur. But, don’t let this information lessen your love of cashmere. It’s a beautiful fabric that can produce the finest of scarves, cardigans, and sweaters.

4. Longline

longline coat

This one is simple. We’ve all seen a long jacket, cardigan, or coat. One that extends past the waist, that is. Well, those items are longline and can be quite fashionable and cozy! They’re like a security blanket you can wear, only much more stylish.

For women, longline coats and cardigans look great over an outfit that is one solid color. Pair a cream-colored longline coat or vest with a black top and black pants to look instantly sleek and stunning. Men can try a longline, oversize, or full-length overcoat with jeans and a crew-neck t-shirt. Add a hat for classic, sexy style.

5. Unlined

unlined jacket

We briefly discussed lined jackets earlier. Some jackets, coats, and blazers are lined with a type of fur or fabric on the inside. More confusing, it seems, is just what on earth unlined actually means. Some jackets don’t have a lining at all? How could that be? Surely, someone should throw these poor unlined jackets a line, shouldn’t they?

Well, no. Let’s not get carried away! Put simply, an unlined garment has the same material inside as on the outside. Some jackets are half-lined, while others are fully lined. The type of jacket you buy simply depends on your personal preference and needs. So, now that we’ve cleared that up, let’s stock up!

6. Waterproof  Vs. Water-Resistant

Waterproof jacket

These terms tend to get mixed up a lot. Aren’t they the same thing? Not quite. Waterproof material is meant to keep all water from getting in. Water-resistant refers to fabric that can repel water, but it is not entirely waterproof. Keep this in mind when shopping for jackets, coats, etc. so that you don’t become drenched during torrential downpours and dreaded sleet.

7. Windbreaker

windbreaker jacket

Finally, a term that defines itself! The purpose of windbreakers is generally well-understood. They help keep the wind away from your body. They have a lightweight wear and are usually made from nylon often with a flannel lining. Not just a spring thing, they are great for providing warmth during the windy winter months. Be sure to layer them over shirts, jackets, and sweaters to keep wind chill at bay.

Fashion may seem more complicated than it needs to be, but it’s really quite simple once you gets past a few confusing terms. As the summer draws to a close, it’s time to get out the outerwear, but it’s hard to do so if you don’t know your lined jackets from your unlined jackets or your cashmere from your down! Keep these 7 outerwear terms in mind and you should be prepared for a change in the weather.

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