It seems winter is sticking around bold and strong for longer than expected this season, with the UK getting more and more warnings of snow. So keep out your knee high boots, turtle necks and parkas, no one wants to become an ice cube (or maybe you do and I totally understand that somedays)
So why keep out the parka?
Firstly, its a staple, everyone knows what you mean when you say you're wearing it with an outfit
It's versatile- pair it with a dress and tights or some jeans, either way it rocks
It's transportable, yeah it may be a little to heavy or fury while trapsing around the shops but its super easy compared to that old teddy coat.
And lastly, they've been knocking around for a bloody long time... here's some history:
A parka is a knee-length cold-weather coat; typically stuffed with a warm material and with a fur-lined hood.
In the early 1950s it was made from nylon, but changed to poplin by 1959, when it was featured in Vogue magazine as a fashion item.
The word parka is taken from the Nenets (native people in northern arctic Russia) language. In the Aleutian Islands (located in the Northern Pacific Ocean) the word simply means "animal skin".
US Air Force, snorkel parka
The original snorkel parka can be split in to two designs:
N-3B parka, which is 3/4 length and has a full, attached hood
N-2B parka is waist-length and has an attached split hood
They were developed in the USA during the early 1950s for military use, mainly for flight crews in extremely cold areas where temperatures were down to -50 °C.
They were originally made with a sage green DuPont flight silk nylon outer and lined with a wool blanket type material.
But in the mid-1970s the padding was changed to polyester padding: this made the jacket lighter and warmer. The outer shell material was also combined with a sage green cotton-nylon blend.
This type of jacket earned the name of "Snorkel Parka" because the hood can be zipped right up to your face, leaving only a small tunnel (resembling a snorkel) to look out of.
Fishtail parka: a favourite amongst the ‘mods’
Following the end of the Second World War the US army realised they would need a new cold weather system for fighting in and this is how the fishtail parka came to life. It was first used by the United States Army in 1950 to help protect soldiers from the elements in the Korean War.
There are four main styles of fishtail parkas; The M stands for military, and the number is the year it was standardized.
EX-48: This was the first prototype of the jacket- is distinctive as it has a left sleeve pocket and is made of thin poplin. It has thin fibre glass based lining that is incredibly light and warm.
M-48: Was the first actual production model fishtail parka in 1948. It was made of the heavier sateen canvas type cotton with a thicker wool pile liner and a hood liner made of wool. It was costly to produce and was therefore only in production for around one year. The cuffs had two buttons so they could be secured tightly around a wearer's wrist. The liner had a built in chest pocket which again was unique.
~ Both the EX-48 and M-48 are distinguishable from any other type of parka by having the sleeve pocket~
M-51: Was made because the M48 was such a high quality it was too expensive to mass-produce. So this version had just the one cuff button. Also the M51 was detachable in 3 ways – making it much easier to clean. This also allowed you to change the state of the parka depending on the temperature.
M-65: The last version of this Parka. It has a detachable hood it features a removable quilted liner made of light nylon/polyester. The M-65 fishtail parka first came in to production in 1968. These parkas featured fake synthetic fur.
Parkas were made especially big so that other layers of clothing could be comfortably worn underneath.
In the 1960s UK, the fishtail parka became a known symbol of the ‘mod’ group. This was down to their practicality, cheapness and availability- it was seen as the ideal jacket for protecting smarter clothes underneath from grease and dirt when on the mod's scooter. Furthermore, they were easily found in army surplus shops.
Its place in popular culture was assured by newspaper pictures of parka-clad mods during the Bank Holiday riots of the 1960s.
The Jacket of Geeks?
In the late 1980s parkas were considered very unfashionable. They were associated with geeks and nerds. This helped to create the UK term ‘anorak’ for people who wore them (this is where the two garments began to get mixed up). Nerdy train spotters would supposedly wear anoraks whilst collecting numbers on cold railway platforms. Even to date parkas are used in creating a boffin stereo type, like Scott Pilgrim for example.
The Rise of the Parka
In Europe Parkas started to regain popularity in the late 1990s/early 2000s. Celebrities such as being Liam Gallagher and David Beckham were snapped wearing them. Around 2004, the nerdy stereotype had faded and Parkas became a main-stream fashion jacket. They were particularly popular in the indie scene.
Although Parkas have developed over the years, there is still resemblance to the original 1950s design. Some Parkas even still have the orange quilted lining of the 70's and 80's school parkas.
Do you own a Parka?