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Lesson

Cambiar de chaqueta o ser un "chaquetero"



Mouse-over Spanish text fragments in red to see English translation
The expression cambiar de chaqueta or ser un "chaquetero" means to hide one's true beliefs or thoughts for convinience or just to fit in an environment in which a person normally does not belong to.

A similar expression in English will be "to be fickle."

Many people change their opinion for their own convinience. Someone might change his mind according to what others say, being always in agreement with them just to fit in the group, even though he has told you privately otherwise. Or maybe you met someone who changes his mind every year about their favorite sports team, on account of the victories and the titles earned by this team. All these people should be qualified as "chaqueteros".

Marcos siempre ha sido fan del F.C. Barcelona, pero como le gusta mucho Cristiano Ronaldo, ahora apoya al Real Madrid. ¡Será chaquetero!
Marcos has always been a supporter of F.C. Barcelona, but since he likes Cristiano Ronaldo a lot, now he is a supporter of Real Madrid. What a fickle!

¡Como le gusta a María cambiar de chaqueta! A mí me dijo el otro día que no sabía nada de la discusión en el despacho y ahora que está el jefe delante, dice que lo escuchó todo.
How does Mary like to be a fickle! She told me the other day that she knew nothing about the dispute in the office and now that the boss is here, she says she's heard everything.

In order to find the origin of this expression, we must go back five centuries ago, back to the Lutheran Reformation in the sixteenth century, where supporters of each faction were distinguished from others for the external color of their jackets. Only looking at the color of the jackets they were wearing, everybody could associate their political beliefs and convictions. What happened is that the inner lining of these jackets was usually a different color to the outside so that more than one occasion, in which someone wanted to go unnoticed, or at a time where someone was in a hostile environment, they turned their coat around, leaving the outside shell, thus hiding their true conviction.

From five centuries ago, whoever changes his mind as circumstances change is told a "chaquetero" or "que cambia de chaqueta".

Ejemplo 1:

A Carlos nunca le ha gustado nada ir a esquiar. Siempre ha dicho que odia la montaña, la nieve y el frío. Pero como a sus nuevos amigos les encanta esquiar y quiere caerles bien, ahora dice que le encanta. ¡Cómo ha cambiado de chaqueta!
Carlos never liked to ski at all. He's always said that he hates the mountain, the snow and the cold. But since his new friends love to ski and he wants to fit in the group, now he says he loves it. He's a total fickle!

Ejemplo 2:

Hace unos años te gustaba Roger Federer. El año pasado decías que Rafael Nadal era el mejor del mundo. Y ahora, Djokovic es tu jugador de tenis favorito. ¡Deja ya de cambiar de chaqueta!
Many years ago you liked Roger Federer. Last year you said that Rafael Nadal was the best player in the World. And now, Djokovic is your favorite tennis player. Stop being so fickle!

Ejemplo 3:

No me explico lo chaquetero que es Ramón. Para no meterse en problemas, siempre dice lo que la gente quiere escuchar sin tener una opinión propia.
I can't understand how fickle Ramon is. In order to not get in any trouble, he always says what people want to hear without having a strong opinion about anything.