This section is from the "A Complete Dictionary of Dry Goods" book, by George S. Cole. Also available from Amazon: A complete dictionary of dry goods and history of silk, cotton, linen, wool and other fibrous substances,: Including a full explanation of the modern processes ... together with various useful tables.
Coat. A principal outer garment; any covering for the body. Specifically an outer garment worn by men, covering the upper part of the body. In the early middle ages it was identical with what is now called a tunic, or sometimes with the cassock and corset (which see). Coats of modern form, fitted to the body and having loose skirts, first appeared in the regin of Charles II (1630-1685). Since the beginning of the 18th century the coat has been of three general fashions; a broad skirted coat, now called the Prince Albert, so named in honor of Queen Victoria's illustrious consort; the cutaway coat; and the sack coat which has no skirt. About 1860 the long-used swallow tail coat was discarded, and the Prince Albert took its place. This was too staid and uncomfortable a dress coat for young men, and very soon tailors improved upon it. They made it shorter, whittled the sides away to a tapering skirt and cut it to fit, and made it of fancy colored cloths as well as of the old broadcloth. This was the the modern cutaway coat, and it has taken such a hold with the public that it is now the most popular article of dress in men's clothing.