What is a Car Coat?

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Car coats are outwear which were originally designed for driving in open cars, which could get cold in the evening or at high rates of speed. They often also have a stylish flair, so that a dashing motorist could step out of a vehicle looking fashionable. Many companies make car coats to wear in various contexts, not just cars; such a garment can be a stylish and useful addition to a wardrobe.

A-line style, flat front, and mid length are distinguishing features for a car coat.
A-line style, flat front, and mid length are distinguishing features for a car coat.

The main distinguishing feature of a car coat is the A-line style, flat front, and mid-thigh length. These features make it practical for wearing in a car, because they allow a driver to move comfortably while staying warm. The A-line ensures that there is room around the hips to move, since it creates a slight flare in the coat. The flat front reduces the probability of bunching, which can cause discomfort, and the mid-thigh length prevents the driver from becoming tangled in the coat.

Car coats are often made from thicker fabrics like tweed.
Car coats are often made from thicker fabrics like tweed.

An assortment of materials are used to make car coats. As a general rule, thick fabrics like tweed and dense wool are frequently employed, because they are warming, and leather is not uncommon. These garments are also often lined with silk or another soft material. Both buttons and zippers are used to fasten the car coat, and they are sometimes hidden behind a flap of material for insulating warmth. This style is known as a flat front placket, as the term "placket" is used in fashion to refer to an opening in fabric, or a layer designed to make that opening more discreet. A flat front placket creates a smooth, even line without distracting buttons.

A car coat often also has large, deep pockets to hold an assortment of items, including keys. As a general rule, it would be checked at the door of an establishment, along with other outerwear. Outside the car, this garment strikes a happy medium between a full length trench and a regular coat. When the weather does not merit a full trench but still requires protection of the upper body, a car coat can be ideal. Styles for both men and women are available with an assortment of decorative accents. An accessorizing scarf or sash is a frequent accompaniment to women's car coats.

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a wiseGEEK researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

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Discussion Comments


After I read about car coats here I thought that they were more for women. It seems that I'm wrong and maybe I'll pick one up for the coming winter season.


From what I read at www.carcoats.net it seemed like car coats were only for women.

I changed my mind now. Next time I go shopping I'll pick one up so I can have it for the winter.


Most of my life I have lived in a warm climate, but a few years ago we moved to New York, and I knew I would need some different coats.

I bought a leather car coat that has been a good coat. I have to do a lot of walking, so this is warm without being too bulky. It is also dressy enough to wear to work and looks good for an evening out too.

I never had need for something as warm as a car coat before. Having the extra length really does make a difference - especially on those cold, windy days when you feel like the wind is blowing right through you.


I have a stylish wool car coat that is the warmest coat I own. This was an expensive coat to buy, but the design of the coat will never go out of style.

One of the things I like about it is that it looks good whether I am dressed up or down. I can wear this coat with jeans, a dress or pants and it looks great.

It also has a lot of pockets which is a nice plus. Some other dress coats I have had before don't have much for pockets. I like having places I can keep my phone, keys and credit card without carrying a purse.


I have leather seats in my car, and while I love how they look, they can get really cold in the winter.

On very cold days, I love wearing my hooded car coat to keep warm. This especially makes a difference when I sit down on the seat.

If I wear a shorter jacket that only goes to my waist and doesn't cover my bottom, it takes me a long time to warm up.

I also think a longer coat like this is very stylish looking. I know I feel like I am more dressed up when I wear a car coat than when I put on some of my other winter coats.


I live in an area with snowy winters, so I really appreciated getting a quilted car coat for Christmas last year. It is lined with thick wool and covered with that quilted padding that locks heat in and keeps me toasty.

The car coat is gray, so I can wear it with anything. It also has a detachable hood that I use to keep the snow out of my hair.

I love the fact that it has large pockets, too. I carry my cell phone with me everywhere, but my pants don't always have pockets. It's nice to be able to store it in my coat.


@Perdido – Yes, I have seen the type of car coat that you are talking about. While it would not serve the same function as the original car coats, I suppose it can be called this, just because it bears resemblance to them on the surface.

The focus is now more on being fashionable, so the car coats of yesterday have been modified to be more trendy and appeal to the younger crowd. I would never wear a modern car coat, because I would freeze.

To me, the best kind of car coat is made from a faux shearling material. I'm not a fan of killing animals for their skin, so I always go with the faux option. Since they are designed to feel and insulate like the real thing, these car coats can keep you warm in the coolest of conditions.

The lining is fuzzy and thick, like the wool of a sheep. This faux wool also extends up over the collar and the cuffs. The outside is smooth like suede.


I saw a ladies' car coat for sale at a department store the other day that really didn't seem to fit the description. It was long enough to be a car coat, but the material seemed to thin to keep anyone warm, especially out in the wind.

Also, it had buttons, but the spaces between them were loose enough to allow for gaps. It had a sash as well, but that still wouldn't close up the spaces that let air in between the buttons.

Can a coat like this really be classified as a car coat? It just seems wrong to me.


I have a brown women's car coat made from wool. I was puzzled when I saw the words “car coat” on the tag, and I had forgotten that this was what it was called until I read this article.

The coat is slightly gathered at the back, so it fits somewhat snugly. It has two rows of buttons down the front, and it even has a few inner buttons for extra protection against the cold.

I really believe that this coat would keep me warm if I were to ride in an open car. It does a pretty good job of this when I'm walking on a blustery day.


I'm in total agreement with kasen.


I prefer a car coat over a shorter jacket because it covers my bottom - the car seats can be cold!

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