Nehru Jacket

AKA: sometimes called a Mao Jacket, but that is actually a totally different style

How to say it: Nay-roo

Traditional Features: 

body template

  • single-breasted
  • slightly fitted
  • standing band collar
  • hip length (ish)
  • western suit cuffs


…of the style: The Nehru Jacket is a simple jacket with a stand collar, no lapels and a smooth, single breasted front. It came into existence in the 1940s and is modelled on the sherwani, which combines the stylings of a Victorian Frock Coat and a the Indian achkan.

The sherwani was adopted by the Indian Aristocracy, particularly Jawaharlal Nehru, who was instrumental in the Indian Independence movement and became the first Indian Prime Minister. When the Nehru was introduced (originally called the Band Gale Ka), it too was popular with the aristocracy as it was less formal than the sherwani. The jacket made its way to the west and was marketed as the ‘Nehru’ jacket; it became popular in the 60s and 70s thanks to the Beatles and the Mod trend.

While the Nehru jacket is still popular in India, thanks to its combination of western and traditional features, it has had a downturn in popularity in the west in the last couple of decades. Having said that, it has been interpreted by various designers over the years and pops up on the catwalk every couple of seasons.

…of the name: It is assumed that the Nehru Jacket was named after Jawaharlal Nehru, despite the fact that he never actually wore the jacket – he wore sherwanis.

For a more in depth history of the Nehru Jacket, try The Gentlemans GazetteWikipediaUtsavpedia or get your hands on the Fairchild’s Dictionary of Fashion.

21st Century Nehru Jackets

The Nehru Jacket doesn’t come along all the time, but when it does the versions are classically beautiful and ooze old school elegance.

valentino hermes2 modcloth nehru - matthrew williamson2

Top Row – Valentino, Hermes

Bottom Row – ModCloth, Matthew Williamson


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