Originally Posted by Syagria
Hm. Honestly, I've never actually looked specifically at a men's pattern before, only women's and unisex (like pajama pants and robes). My thought is: all the information on a pattern is based on direct measurements in inches or centimeters, thus finding an appropriately-sized pattern for men should not be any different, so long as the measurements for the person wearing it have been accurately taken.
The place you'll run into trouble in regards to your first question is that the tailoring on a women's jacket and on a men's jacket will be quite different. Women's jackets are typically tailored to accomodate the rounded bustline and the narrower waist. Men's jackets are generally broader in the shoulders. If, as a woman, you try to follow a men's jacket pattern straight up, you'll likely find that it's baggy across the back and in the shoulders. Men are much more straight-up-and-down and women are usually more curvy, so if you make a jacket off a men's pattern, it may end up looking very boxy. This was popular in the 80's (women's power suits in the 80s all had shoulder pads and very square cuts to make them more masculine as part of a feminist push to indicate that women could compete in the business field on equal footing), so your resulting garment may also look rather dated.
If you're new to sewing, it's probably best to get a pattern more specific to a woman's proportions. After a little bit of experience, you'll start to get a natural feel for how things are cut for women, and you can use that experience to adjust a men's pattern to fit women.
Thanks so much for the info! I looked through a bunch of patterns my mom has and there's a women's jacket I can alter a bit (less altering than what would be needed for a men's jacket to fit properly). I'm not really new to sewing, but I am new to using and altering patterns, so I think a women's jacket pattern would suit my skills best.