We use the words interchangeably, and for the sake of modern fashion, parkas and anoraks are basically the same thing—heavy-duty coats with hoods, designed to be worn in adverse weather conditions. But although they serve the same function, there are some differences between the two. A parka is traditionally a knee-length, insulated winter coat with a hood, and the word ‘parka’ comes from Russia by way of the Aleutian Islands. An anorak, on the other hand, is a waterproof pullover with a hood, and is not usually quite as long as a parka. The word ‘anorak’ comes from Greenland.
Your parka or anorak comes from Shop It To Me, via your favorite brand or boutique. But, parkas and anoraks were first worn by native people in the polar and arctic regions. They were originally made from animal skins, usually caribou, and were designed for use in the most extreme conditions. Modern cultures were impressed by the functionality of the parka and anorak and adapted the jackets for military and civilian use, using nylon and other synthetic fabrics in place of skins.
A parka is a must have for cold, wintry climates. The length of the coat, as well as the hood make it perfectly suited for snowy and windy conditions. The warmest parkas have fur or faux fur lined hoods, thick insulation, and cuffs that keep warmth inside the jacket. Anoraks, though also appropriate for extreme weather, are often lightweight compared to parkas, and may feature drawstring waists and roll sleeves. Anoraks are perfect for rainy and windy days, as they keep your clothes clean and dry.
Because parkas and anoraks are rugged in style and function, your clothing and footwear should reflect the need for heavy-duty outerwear. Not to mention that if it’s cold or wet enough to wear a parka or anorak, you’ll probably be wanting some warm layers and waterproof shoes anyway. For cold and snowy weather, try a sweater and leggings under your parka, and winter boots to keep your feet warm and dry. For wet and windy weather, make a maritime outfit out of your anorak with cute crops and boat shoes.