The pea coat is one of the most stylish jackets that a man can wear. It has maintained popularity for centuries, since being introduced in the 1800s. The design and fit have slightly changed over time to match modern trends, making it a flattering favourite among men around the world. It’s a style you’ll continually see every fall and winter due to its versatile design and weight. You can start using it as a light layer over a shirt or thin sweater during the fall or the beginning of spring, and add heavier knits once the temperatures continue to drop throughout the winter. There are seemingly endless styling and colour options when it comes to the pea coat, so we’ve put together this guide to help give you some options.
If you already know what kind of pea coat you want:
CHOOSE A PEA COAT
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The History Of The Pea Coat
The pea coat was originally used as a military piece of clothing, more specifically for the navy. The Dutch navy created the pea coat in the 1800s as part of the navy uniform, and that is where the name originates from - “pije” means coarse wool in Dutch, the fabric used to make the pea coat. Apart from the durable wool, the pea coat featured a double-breasted silhouette for extra chest protection, a large ulster collar that could be buttoned all the way to the top, vertical slit pockets, and buttons with an anchor emblem. Later the British navy made their own version which became so popular that it made its way across the Atlantic to America. It became the most popular piece of naval outerwear because of its durability and resistance - the material could easily combat the heavy rain and winds that sailors regularly dealt with at sea. The pea coat made its way into the mainstream fashion world after World War II when surplus military clothes were widely available.
The Pea Coat Today
Over the decades, the shape of the pea coat has changed. Why when you think about a pea coat colour it is navy? The original navy pea coat was generally made of a navy color to match the rest of the navy uniform, was made with a heavy fabric to ensure warm, water-resistance, and protection, and flared out at the bottom to create ease of movement for sailors. As the pea coat turned into a fashion piece designers began experimenting with the fit and design. Nowadays pea coats come in a variety of colors and weights and also have a more tapered fit. Designers also experiment with different fabrics, like cashmere or even leather. Sometimes unique accents like leather trims are added.
A few things have stood the test of time though: the double-breasted silhouette, large collar, and the functionality. Pea coats are still well-loved as a functional yet stylish type of outerwear and have definitely reached iconic menswear status.
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How To Style The Pea Coat
Now that you understand why the pea coat is such a worthwhile investment piece, it’s time to learn how to style it properly. Pea coats were designed to be a protective outer layer, so you should never layer anything else over a pea coat. That being said, you can, of course, wear other accessories like scarves during the winter. Just make sure you are layering the scarf underneath the pea coat. Wear it loose to avoid making the neckline look bulky - let the collar of the pea coat be the star. You can show it off by unbuttoning your pea coat, and if you are freezing you can turn the collar up.
Though the design of the pea coat has changed, the styling rules have remained the same over the years. To follow the proper pea coat style rules, look at the jacket above. The length of the jacket should hit the bottom of the hips to define your torso. Avoid wearing a pea coat that’s too long or short, as the fit won’t look right. A pea coat that’s too long will make you lose your shape, and a pea coat that’s too short will make you look rounder than you actually are. Also, make sure the sleeves extend to the top of your hands when you’re standing up. You don’t want any long-sleeved under layers to be able to poke out from underneath. The pea coat should be well-fitted but not too tight - you should be able to comfortably move your arms. To get the original, iconic pea coat look to keep the buttons closed.
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Pea coats are a versatile piece that can be styled in many ways and for many occasions. It works for any season that requires a jacket: fall, winter, maybe even the first few months of spring if you live somewhere with a cooler climate. You can wear them on the weekend over casual pieces like jeans, chinos, sweaters, open-buttoned shirts, or even a t-shirt in the fall. With outfits like these, you can wear boots or even sneakers on your feet. If the weather is a bit cooler you can accessorize with a beanie, or perhaps layer a sweater over your shirt for warmth and interest.
If you have a formal dress code at work, pea coats also make an excellent outer layer. They look great styled over suits, or shirts and slacks if it’s a bit warmer. For a smart and stylish outfit layer a turtleneck sweater and slacks underneath a pea coat. You can choose to wear dress shoes or boots, most styles will look great with the pea coat. You can also apply the layered sweater and shirt combination, only with slacks and a tie instead.
For extra style points, you can pop the collar. It will keep your neck warm and give your look a true sartorial feel. However, save this trick for the winter as you might look out of place in the fall.
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As we know, pea coats are now available in many different colours and variations. If you prefer a more traditional feel, choose a navy version in the classic coarse wool. However, if this is not your style then choose what feels best for you. Pea coats now come in almost any colour, so if you prefer lighter or brighter styles, go for it!
Perhaps you enjoy lighter and more luxurious fabrics. If that’s the case, find lightweight merino wool or cashmere version. You can also add extra details like belts, buttons, patches, and taping. It’s easy to get the pea coat of your dreams when it’s made-to-measure. Not only will it fit you perfectly, but you can add on all your favourite details exactly as you like them.
This look is dapper and professional. Get your beige pea coat
Remember, the pea coat should be the outset layer of your outfit; the only pieces that should ever be over a pea coat are carefully selected accessories. However, the ultimate way to wear this coat is to keep all layers and garments (including scarves) underneath it.
If you wish to follow the proper pea coat style rules, look at the jacket above: To have the original, iconic look, the buttons should be closed, and the length of the jacket should “hit” at the bottom of the hips. Don’t wear a pea coat that’s too long as it will lose the sense of figure-shaping/defining. Also stay away from wearing pea coats that are too short as these will make you look “rounder” than what you are. Get this black pea coat.
As we’ve seen in this post, the pea coats come in many colors and looks. Don’t forget to choose the style and color of the pea coat the way you want it. Notice the details of the grey Hockerty pea coat: it has patched pockets and tape sleeves. Details like this are possible when you have the coat made-to-measure, and you yourself choose what details you want to add to your coat.
These two Pea Coats are excellent examples on how different styles you can have, with one coat!
Not only are the colors different but look at the details; The green pea coat one has diagonal zipper pockets and no belt. Whereas the red pea coat has double welt pockets and a belt between the button rows. Same type of coat; two different styles.
Now it’s up to you! How will you style your pea coat?