A Classic, Iconic Layer Of Warmth: The “Pea Coat”

Classic & Timeless Layer Of Warmth:  The Pea Coat
Classic & Timeless Layer Of Warmth: The Pea Coat

The “Pea Coat”. A true original. The classic and timeless “Pea Coat”. A “Pea Coat” or “Pea Jacket” is an outer coat typically of a navy blue hue colored wool that is characterized by broad lapels, double-breasted fronts, vertical or slash pockets and emblazoned with often large buttons. A distinctive coat of timeless construction in a woolen cloth of warmth. Whether a longer version or the traditional short topcoat of Woolen delight, the iconic layer of the “Pea Coat” endures in style…

The Woman's "Pea Coat":  Enduring Style
The Woman’s “Pea Coat”: Enduring Style

The term “Pea Coat” is said to have originated from the Dutch or West Frisian word “Pijjekker” or “Pijjakker”, in which “Pij” refers to “coarse wool”. The type of cloth originally used was a heavy and coarse twilled blue woolen cloth with the ‘nap’ on one side. Of interest, in French, the “Pea Coat” was given the name “Caban”, which comes from the Sicilian word “Cabbanu” (a word inspired from the Arabic “Gag(a cloak/tunic). Who knew?

Certainly, the “Pea Coat” finds its origin with a military beginning. A jacket for the sea. Layering sailors on the docks and on the Sea, the “Pea Coat” is perhaps nostalgically and enduringly associated with sailors and the sea. History states that during the early 18th century the “Pea Coat” referred to as a “Reefer Jacket” was created for Britain’s Royal Navy midshipmen. The heavy topcoat, worn in cold weather, would become an essential garment for seafaring men that other European fleets would soon bring “on board” with the coats functional warmth and appeal. In fact, in the Belgian Navy, the “Pea Jacket” is known as a “Pilot Jacket” or “Pilot Coat”. References to this great coat of use and style certainly abound!

History At Sea:  The Practical Warmth Of The "Pea Coat"
History At Sea: The Practical Warmth Of The “Pea Coat”

The coat’s life at sea and travel by boat from port to port can perhaps also allude to its influence to the world and eventually its impact in fashion. For certain, the famous short coat would cross the Atlantic when it was adopted by the US Navy in 1881. Military history of style, indeed. Of interest, references to the “Pea Jacket” are said to have appeared in American Newspapers as early as the 1720’s. Great function and style awaited the American Shores and waters. And of it’s additional distinction in terminology of this coat within the US Navy? The term “Bridge Coat” (a longer version of the coat) was an exclusive uniform for officers and Chief Petty officers. This double-breasted coat of traditional navy blue wool features gold naval insignia buttons, epaulets, a half belt in the back and a deep center vent. Another style of this coat of history is the “Reefer” which is for officers only and is identical to the basic design but has gold buttons and epaulettes. Distinction.

While modern “Pea Coats” are available in many colors, perhaps it is the “US Navy Issue” of dark blue that can be deemed the standard. Along with the standard wool construction of 30 ounces of woolen cloth, there are lesser amounts of wool that can layer in style today. But of the cloth that tailored the great style of these timeless iconic coats? Taken from “Pilot Cloth” or “P-Cloth” (The initial “P” for “Pilot”), the garment was originally termed “P-Jacket” which would later evolve into “Pea Coat”. Again, who knew? Of note, the term “P” cloth has been used since 1723 to denote coats constructed of this woolen cloth. History of style endures

Enduring Style:  The "Pea Coat"
Enduring Style: The “Pea Coat”
Fashionable Warmth  In Woolen Appeal:  The "Pea Coat"
Fashionable Warmth In Woolen Appeal: The “Pea Coat”
Versatile Distinction: The "Pea Coat" In Variation
Versatile Distinction: The “Pea Coat” In Variation
Woolen Short Topcoat Of Distinction: The Man's "Pea Coat"
Woolen Short Topcoat Of Distinction: The Man’s “Pea Coat”
A Menswear Essential:  The Iconic "Pea Coat"
A Menswear Essential: The Iconic “Pea Coat”

With the style variations available, options taken from the classic “Pea Coat” include broad lapels and a wide collar to cover the neck with a 2-button fasten capability, 2 slightly angled flat pockets to warm the hands and a longer sleeve length that covers the wrists for better protection. And of the buttons? Sets of anchor inscribed buttons certainly link this jacket to the sea. Originally embossed with flat buttons to avoid ‘catching’ on boat ropes, eight buttons typically adorn the front that are either wooden, metal or strong plastic. Of course, one column of buttons serves no other purpose other than being decorative. Pure design with distinction at sea! Of note, the woman’s version of the “Pea Coat” (as well as the modern man’s) are usually embellished with six buttons rather than the customary 8 button adornment. Embellishments that have endured, either way…

Woolen Warmth Of Double Breasted Style:  The "Pea Coat"
Woolen Warmth Of Double Breasted Style: The “Pea Coat”

As a timeless classic, it is no wonder that during the 1960’s Yves Saint Laurent and other fashion designers that followed would revisit the “Pea Coat” and introduce the garment of masculine distinction to the world of women’s fashion. For certain, this classic is revisited each year with modern renditions that still maintain elements of the original design and composition. After all, how do you perfect a classic? Considered a menswear essential, the coat is also a classic garment for the woman that will be pulled from our wardrobe of outer-wear season after season. Style paired with warmth. Of course, with the variations in design, length, color, shape, number of buttons and pocket layout, perhaps the choice is individual. Either way, an appreciation of great design that evolves from the classic and iconic layer. Whether a heavy wool version or a lighter mix of wool, whether fitted and flared slightly on the woman or bold weightiness on the man, this double-breasted addition provides an added layer of wind resistance and warmth paired with great style.

Consider layering yourself in this timeless and iconic coat of distinctive style. However it is referenced with the terms throughout its history, the “Pea Coat” is a classic and versatile jacket of timeless style. Guaranteed warmth in stylish wool. A classic, iconic layer of warmth, indeed…



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