A greatcoat (also watchcoat) is a large, woollen overcoat designed for warmth and protection against wind and weather, and features a collar that can be turned up and cuffs that can be turned down to protect the face and the hands, whilst the short rain-cape at the shoulders protects from the wind and repels rain. In the 19th century, the 'watchcoat' was part of a soldier's military uniform, to be worn whilst on watch (guard duty), hence the term watchcoat.
The drape of the greatcoat reached to below the knee of the wearer, the short cape drapes to the elbow, and the capacious external pockets allow the wearer to carry dry food and other items; an example is the Petersham coat, named after Viscount Petersham. In the fashion of the Regency era (1795–1837) a greatcoat might feature several short capes, usually designed, cut, and tailored to the specifications of fit and aesthetic taste of a dandy.
The greatcoat for a French dragoon soldier. (1812)
Models of Bundeswehr greatcoats from the 1960s.
The Border Guard Service of Russia in greatcoat uniform.
Royal Air Force officers in uniform greatcoat, inspecting a French aeroplane.
Winston Churchill in a British Warm coat; Stalin in a greatcoat, Yalta, 1945.
A sentry of the Coldstream Guards dressed in his watchcoat. (2011)
A British Tommy in his Army-issue greatcoat; First World War (1914–1918).