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slantedknitting in hp_britglish

Clothing Questions

Hello! I have 2 questions today around clothing...

1) Is there any difference in British English between jacket and coat? Can they be used interchangeably or is one more standard or do they mean different things?

What I'm really hoping for is the right word for what Harry might wear outside during fall/winter in London.

2) Sweaters?! Is "sweater" never used in the UK? Is it always a jumper or pullover instead? I've been trying to figure this out, but it seems like maybe "sweater" is something starting to be used?? Is this true or would it be very bizarre for someone to refer to that clothing item as a sweater? Is there a specific difference between a jumper and a pullover?

And is there any difference between what different genders wear? For example, Harry and Hermione... jumper/pullover/sweater... do these terms indicate anything anything about which one a man might be likely to wear vs a woman?

Lastly, what would this specific item of clothing be called: http://farm6.static.flickr.com/5057/5574565005_6ee0d05522_z.jpg

Thanks, all!

EDIT: Thanks, everyone :) I think I've figured out everything I need to keep my lil wizards cozy this season. Thanks!!


A jacket is short; hip length or above, whereas a coat is longer. A jacket can also be an indoor garment, like a blazer or the top part of a suit, as well as a warmer, outdoor garment. I coat (without any qualifier, such as "white coat") is specifically outerwear. If it's cold, Harry's probably going to want a coat rather than a jacket.

I sometimes say "sweater" because I lived in Canada for a while; it does get me slightly odd looks, although everyone understands it. I don't think there's much difference between a jumper and a pull-over; technically a jumper could have fastenings while in theory at least a pullover doesn't, and a jumper is generally knit, whereas a pull-over could be made of fabric, like a sweatshirt, but they're basically interchangeable. They're also both non-gender specific.

I'd call that a jumper.
The coat vs jacket thing makes sense - I think it's similar here in the US but I've honestly never paid enough attention to it.

I would say a jacket is more lightweight, and nearly always shorter, eg hiplength. A coat is thicker, and could be hiplength or kneelength. A jacket can also be the top part of a suit. Harry could be wearing either at that time of year.

We do know the word sweater, but it's not a Brit word. It wouldn't be bizarre for someone to use it, but if you prefer your characters to sound British rather than transatlantic, I would avoid it.

I don't think there's a difference in genders.

The item you've linked to, I believe is called a shawl neck jumper or shawl collar jumper. But I wouldn't mind betting most people wouldn't know WHAT it was called, LOL.

ETA I agree with the above poster that a jacker would usually be hiplength, rather than waistlength, as I first suggested.

Edited at 2016-11-13 06:38 pm (UTC)
Thanks so much!! That all makes sense.
For me to call something a jacket, it would need to end at about waist level (whereas a coat could be longer). It could also be used to describe something that someone would wear inside, whereas a coat would always be outdoor clothing to me. There are items of clothes I might interchangeably use coat and jacket for, but others (longer, thicker) I would only ever call a coat.

"Sweater" is probably used a bit, but I (about 10 years younger than Harry) don't use it. I'd call a long-sleeved, warm garment intended to be worn over ashirt/t-shirt a jumper or a sweatshirt. (Jumper if knitted fabric, sweatshirt if not.) Men and women can wear either.

I'd call the item in the picture a jumper (a v-neck jumper if trying to be specific).
Thanks a lot! Very helpful :)
For me to call something a jacket, it would need to end at about waist level

That would rule out a suit jacket, a dinner jacket, and a waxed Barbour jacket! Really only a waistcoat or a bomber jacket end at waist level.
I am using "about waist level" very vaguely (hence the "about"!). Somewhere between the bottom of the ribcage and the top of the thighs, I suppose.
Jacket - hip/upper thigh. Coat - usually longer.

Jumper wil suffice, older generation may call it a pullover (my parents did).

Jumper would be fine for either sex. A sushidog said, clothing not gender specific.

V-neck jumper.

(This will almost certainly contradict at least half of what other people have said!)

A jacket to me is usually either part of a suit or like an AmE sports coat in cut and weight, a coat is usually heavier and often longer: I wouldn't say jacket of something that came past the middle of my bum. (And remember it's autumn, not fall.)

I use the term sweater (or sweatshirt) to refer to something made of stretchy woven fabric, like exercise clothes, whereas a jumper is usually knitted. I'm not sure why but to me a pullover has a v-neck, but really it's just an older term for jumper.

I'm not sure what I'd call that item of clothing, beyond 'jumper'. I also can't picture Harry wearing it, at least when school-aged: if you're in the future, his wife might have bought it for him but I bet he'd only wear it when he thought 'special occasion' or if she laid his clothes out for him every morning.
Funny you should say that - that particular item is definitely being given as a gift, haha. Thanks for your input!
A coat will always be an outer garment to keep you warm, but a jacket might simply be something light and decorative.

Also: we don't have fall, we have autumn.

Also: A warm coat will keep us cosy, not cozy.
lol, I'm terrible! You'd think I'd have this more ingrained after so many years in the fandom. Oh well. Thanks for the tips!
Given the unpredictability of our weather, Harry could be wearing a jacket or a warm coat.

And they'll be cosy, not cozy!
In my vocabulary - and I admit, I may be odd - jumpers, pullovers and sweaters are all the same thing but are different amounts of warm.

A jumper is the lightest weight. We had school uniform jumpers when I was at school, fairly think V-necks. So a jumper *can* be quite a smart knitted item, although it doesn't have to be. (See: Christmas Jumper.)

A pullover is a bit warmer, but very casual, to the point of being scruffy. I don't think a pullover is smart. Its bagginess is almost inherent in the name.

A sweater is thick. Well, it sounds warm, doesn't it? A sweater may be one of those fabulous Scandinavian items with a decorative yoke, or something chic involving cashmere, or it may be rough and scratchy and decidedly not smart. But it is warm.