Donkey jacket

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A donkey jacket with PVC panels
Sack coat: the precursor to the donkey jacket worn from the mid Victorian era onwards by workers and soldiers. These did not have the leather shoulder patches of the modern work jacket.

A donkey jacket is a short buttoned coat, typically made of unlined black or dark blue woollen material; originally worn as a work jacket in the United Kingdom.


The donkey jacket is derived from the wool sack coat worn by workers in the 19th century, and the Oxford English Dictionary references the term as first used in 1929: "one with leather shoulders and back".[1] There is often a plastic panel covering the shoulder-blade areas. This panel can be plain black or grey, or fluorescent orange or yellow for conspicuousness and for night use. When used as a work jacket, it sometimes bears the name of the company which supplies the jacket, or the name of the company for which the wearer works. The jacket usually has two capacious side pockets, and sometimes an inside "poacher's pocket".

Social significance[edit]

The donkey jacket is regarded as typical of the British manual labourer and trade unionist as well as members of the political left. It is also favoured by traditionalist skinheads.[2][3] Former British Labour Party leader Michael Foot was criticised for wearing what was described incorrectly[4] as a "donkey jacket" at a Remembrance Day wreath laying ceremony and he was shown wearing one on several covers of the satirical magazine Private Eye.[5][6]


  1. ^ "donkey". The Oxford English Dictionary. Second Edition, 1989. OED Online. Oxford University Press. Retrieved November 9, 2009.
  2. ^ TradSkin.Org, (1999), alt.skinheads FAQ, . Retrieved 28 June 2007.
  3. ^ Marshall, George (1991). Spirit of '69 - A Skinhead Bible. Dunoon, Scotland: S.T. Publishing. ISBN 1-898927-10-3
  4. ^
  5. ^ "Hague's baseball cap, Mandelson's mushy peas: True tales or just great political myths?". Daily Mail. 1 July 2007. Retrieved 10 March 2012. 
  6. ^ "Collection highlights: Michael Foot's donkey jacket". People's History Museum.