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The Nehru jacket is a hip-length tailored coat for men or women, with a mandarin collar, and with its front modelled on the Indian achkan or sherwani, a garment worn by Jawaharlal Nehru, the Prime Minister of India from 1947 to 1964.


The Nehru jacket's history can be traced back to the Mughal years when the courtier's choga became the garment of the rich and the powerful. In its later avatars, it became the north Indian male's idea of formal wear — sherwani, achkan, the bandhgala and finally the bandi. The apparel was created in India in the 1940s as Band Gale Ka Coat (English: "Closed Neck Coat") and has been popular on the Indian subcontinent ever since, especially as the top half of a suit worn on formal occasions.[2]


Unlike the achkan, which falls somewhere below the knees of the wearer, the Nehru jacket is shorter. Jawaharlal Nehru, notably, never wore a Nehru jacket.[1][3]


The jacket began to be marketed as the Nehru jacket in Europe and America in the mid 1960s. It was briefly popular there in the late 1960s and early 1970s, its popularity spurred by growing awareness of foreign cultures, by the minimalism of the Mod lifestyle and, in particular, by the Beatles and subsequently the Monkees.[4][5][6]

Several villains in the James Bond film series, including Dr. No, Ernst Stavro Blofeld, Karl Stromberg and Kamal Khan, appear wearing a Nehru jacket. The Master, the arch-enemy of The Doctor in Doctor Who is also seen wearing one in his first and sixth incarnations.

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