The difference between a topcoat and an overcoat is one of weight, length and style. It’s very simple to understand. Let’s break it down:
– An overcoat is a long coat with sleeves that is worn on top of other clothing for protection against the cold and/or weather.
– A topcoat is a lightweight overcoat.
As far as length is concerned, overcoats usually extend below the knee, while topcoats end at or above the knees.
BONUS SMARTS: You’ve got overcoats and topcoats, but there’s another category as well: the greatcoat. A greatcoat is a heavy overcoat that comes from a military heritage.
Can you use topcoat and overcoat interchangeably? Some will advise that you can. However, if you know the difference – which, by now, you should – it’s best to use the proper term to avoid being judged hardcore by the menswear cognoscenti.