How to Wear a Parka Jacket

How to Wear a Parka Jacket

Just bought yourself a parka and struggling to team with anything? Here at The Idle Man we simply love parkas. In celebration of this great jacket, we've put together a quick and easy style guide to give some ideas on how to style your favourite parka. 

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If you want to stay snug through the winter months, we suggest you...emigrate to a hot country. But if that fails, you could always nab yourself a parka. Today we'll quickly run through the best types of parkas available to you. Plus, the parka jacket is one of the most versatile items of clothing. But if you're not sure how to wear it, here are our top 3 suggestions and favourite ways in which you can wear one.

Best Parka Coats

Before we have a look at the different styling options for your parka, let's take a moment for a quick round-up of the best men's parkas coats out there. Let's get cracking, shall we?

The Black Parka

A black parka jacket is simply a must have for the winter. The simplicity of black mixed with the warmth of this fantastic jacket will allow you to even wear it with a suit on your way to work. Parkas are an extremely versatile piece of outerwear and it's in no way limited to casual looks. Whether you're looking for a lightweight jacket for spring or you're in need of something more consistent for autumn/winter, a black parka is a great choice.

For a more casual look you can team up your black parka with a pair of jeans or chinos. Top everything off with a virtually indestructible pair of Docs and you're good to go.

black parka
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The Green Parka

The green parka is the most popular out of all the Mod parka coats out there. Mods from the 1960s weren't exactly exposed to arctic weather conditions but they welcomed the parka jacket in their wardrobe nonetheless. Not only they adopted it but they fully made it their own with customising it with badges of their favourite bands.

That said, the green parka has a fundamentally military nature. Available in different shades of dark greens such as khaki, sage and forest green to finally get to green and brown combinations with a camouflaged pattern, the green parka will certainly give you that urban spin to your outfit with that historical echo of utilitarianism. From football casuals to Mods, we can safely say that the greatness of the green parka is something all style tribes can agree on.

SHOP THE LOOK: Alpha Industries - Jackets | The Idle Man - Shirts | Dickies - Trousers | Garment Project - Trainers

The Navy Parka Coat

Getting yourself a navy parka is yet another practical and stylish addition to your wardrobe. It's an especially useful alternative to a black parka. Same rules apply in case you already have a black overcoat or bomber jacket in your outerwear ranks. When paired with your favourite pair of navy raw jeans, you'll be able to nail that tone on tone combination with the additional textural element of denim. Adding a pair of bright trainers can definitely bring a bit of colour to the whole look.

SHOP THE LOOK: Farah - Jackets | Dickies - Trousers | Superga - Trainers

The North Face Men's Parka

If you're the active type of guy and enjoy an exciting excursion in the great outdoors, chances are that you need a heavy duty parka jacket. Unfortunately very often technical outerwear isn't too aesthetically pleasing. As a result, we usually end up compromising between practicality and style. But no more. The North Face range of jackets will give you a solid and reliable performance jacket with great fashion. In fact, you can wear one of the parka jackets from The North Face on any occasion even if you have no interest in climbing mountains.

SHOP THE LOOK: The North Face - Jackets | Selected - Trousers | Vans - Trainers

How To Wear A Parka

With the ideal parka in mind - and potentially in your bag - we can finally have a look at the different styling combinations you can play around with. It's time to wear the hell out of these parka jackets.


When it comes to men's coats, you may think that the parka generally falls towards the more casual end of the spectrum. However, this doesn't always have to be the case. Whereas they do look great with pretty much any casual outfit, there is no reason you can't don a parka for work or on a smarter occasion too. As long as you chose the right shape of course. Let's start off with this quick tutorial on how to wear a parka with a suit like a pro.

The traditional styles are generally oversized, as historically they would have to accommodate military uniforms underneath. However, some of the modern styles are much tighter fitting. Thanks to that, they can look pretty smart if paired with the right outfit. To avoid looking like you're off to school, opt for a streamline shape and a dark colour, for a sharper look. Make sure that the hemline is long enough to cover your jacket, if wearing it with a suit.

parka-suit (5)
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With A Touch Of (Faux) Fur

A hood is one of the classic features of a parka. It's a great ally against the autumn rains. A parka with a fur lining or trim looks great thrown over a casual outfit, for a cool and laid-back look. Pair it with a sweatshirt, jeans and trainers for the perfect weekend outfit that delivers in both the style and comfort department.

The combination of textures can also add a touch of creativity and depth to your outfit, not to mention it's super cosy. You can even wear it on top of a jacket if it's freezing cold. A fur hooded parka with sherpa lining is one of the best options for colder days and unpredictable autumn weather, which we're all too familiar with.

SHOP THE LOOK: Selected | Calvin Klein Jeans - Jackets | Nudie - Jeans | Hudson - Formal Shoes

Geek Chic With An Urban Twist

A parka can give a bit of an urban edge to any outfit, even your favourite geek chic get-up. Chuck yours on over some patterned knitwear, chinos and pair of Converse trainers. Why not steer away from the traditional khaki and black styles and go for something slightly brighter? I'm not suggesting you go for a neon number, but a dark blue or maroon parka could be the perfect finish to a quirky look.

SHOP THE LOOK: Selected - Jackets | The Idle Man - Jumpers | Dickies - Trousers | Vans - Trainers

The History Of The Parka Coat

The parka was originally designed by the Inuits in the Canadian Arctic. As a bid to stay warm and dry while hunting and kayaking, they would fashion the garment out of animal skin or fur. In fact, the word "parka" came from the Nenets language meaning ‘animal skin’ and the name has stuck ever since.

Originally, parkas were mainly worn by Inuit women and the coat traditionally featured a baby pouch. Now only the fur-lined hoods and the long length design have lived on through history. It's safe to say that if a parka managed to keep the Inuits warm in the Arctic, it must be the perfect option to beat the chill this winter.

inuits wearing a traditional fur parka

Following World War II, the U.S. Air Force tweaked the original parka design. They developed the N-3B “Snorkle” parka with the flight crews who were based in particularly cold regions in mind. The "Snorkle" parka was made from nylon and featured a woollen lining. It successfully protected the American soldiers from temperatures as low as -60°F. Maybe the British winter isn't so bad after all. They also modified the original parka shape by adding a hood and a neckline that could be zipped right up to the nose - think Kenny from South Park.

Parka Jackets in Pop Culture

Since then, the parka jacket has moved beyond its Arctic and military backgrounds and has fully transitioned as a fundamental part of the everyday men's wardrobe. But the power of the parka doesn't stop there. This jacket has definitely left its mark in the history of pop culture. How can we forget The Beatles wearing massive furry parkas on the cover of their Hottest Hits album?


In more recent years the parka has been refashioned for more commercial purposes. Thanks to the likes of superstars such as Mick Jagger and Liam Gallagher famously sporting the garment over the years, this jacket has become quite the iconic look. The "Fishtail" parka, named after it's split back detail, is one of the most notable styles. It was developed during the Korean War to once again adapt to different weather conditions. We can thank the U.S. military one more time for yet another update of the parka.

It was particularly popular among British Mods in the 1960's. The Who's album Quadrophenia and the following eponymous film contributed to the parka invasion of pop culture. Mods and scooter boys filled the front pages of national newspapers with their Fishtail parkas during the Bank Holiday riots. Today parkas jackets come in array of colours and styles to suit different seasons and occasions, varying from heavy duty winter coats, to a smarter lightweight version.

PHOTO CREDIT: Pretty Green

Your Quick Guide on How to Wear a Parka

  • A black parka is an essential addition to your wardrobe whatever the weather. Not only you can enjoy the versatility of the parka itself but it becomes all the more practical thanks to the colour black.
  • Their traditionally slightly oversized fit will leave plenty of room for some autumn/winter layering.
  • A fundamental part of pop culture since the 1960s, the green parka finds its origin in the military wardrobe. It's perfect to put an urban spin to your outfits.
  • The navy parka is a great a great alternative to black outerwear. You'll still be able to hit all the right dark tones regardless of a more casual or formal styling.
  • Let's face it, sometimes technical outerwear isn't very flattering. However, with The North Face you'll be able to be fashionable and enjoy a durable parka whilst you explore the outdoors.
  • Don't underestimate the power of the parka. Take it to more formal heights by wearing it over your suit on the way to work. We recommend a black parka for this specific combination.
  • True, all parkas usually come with a hood but what is a hooded parka without a full fur trimming? Style your sherpa lined parka with a a denim jacket, jeans and a reliable pair of boots.
  • To give an extra twist to your quirky jumper and chinos combination, switch things up a bit with a maroon or dark brown jacket.
  • Thank the Canadian Inuits for this great piece of outerwear. And remember, the word 'parka' literally means 'animal skin in the Nenets language. You know, just in case it comes up in a pub quiz or you want to simply bring a bit of culture to your group of friends.
  • Speaking of culture, the parka jacket is hands down one of the most important pieces of clothing in the history of pop culture. Parkas haven't left our wardrobes since the 1960s and have no intention to leave.

On That Note

The parka jacket is an undiscussed classic in menswear. With a fascinating history going all the way back to the Inuits, the parka has been constantly evolving to successfully adapt to different needs and weather conditions. It's hands down one of the most versatile pieces of outerwear out there. If you're already a big fan of the parka and you're looking to add some different styles or colours to your repertoire, don't forget to pay a visit to our shop. In case you've never had a parka in your wardrobe before, well, you better fix that right now. Thanks to our guide you're more than ready to find the perfect parka for you.

Author: Sophie Deering


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