The classic pea coat is timeless and elegant, durable and warm. It has always been in style and most likely, always will be. There is just something about this coat that has staying power. Perhaps it is the simple, unassuming design. Maybe it is because a pea coat can be dressed up or dressed down and it always looks great.
European sailors were the first to wear it in the early 19th century. The U.S. Navy manufacturers followed early the next century and continue to make them today. The Navy- issue coats used to be the familiar, dark Navy blue. However, they have been black since 1980.
Now days, fashion designers have embellished the classic to turn it into a more high fashion item. Pea coats are now available in wide variety of colors, fabrics and textures. The design itself, however, has changed very little over the coat’s history. The broad lapels slash pockets and double-breasted styling is what gives this staple wardrobe item its classic identity. The original worsted wool exterior makes it a rugged addition to any wardrobe, but it can now be had in lighter weight fabrics that are a complete departure from the original wool.
When choosing a new pea coat, it is normal for the coat to have a boxy fit. If this characteristic fit is found to be undesirable, the coat can easily be altered to be more fitted through the waist. If the correct length is chosen, however, the boxy shape has a way of taking care of itself. The rules are simple. A taller person should choose the longer coat. A short or medium height person should choose a shorter cut.
The more “fashion forward” dressers are choosing rougher textures such as tweed or herringbone for a dressier, more business appropriate look. Paired with a nice scarf wrapped loosely about the neck and the look turns high fashion with a bit of a modern twist.
Those who desire an even dressier version of the pea coat should consider one of the new, slightly longer versions. This one is especially well-suited for the broad shouldered wearer. The overall look is elegance without fuss, an understated solitude.
Choosing a pea coat with a little more detail and more of a trendy look is now much easier than it used to be. Manufacturers are producing coats with tasteful embroidery toward the bottom of the arms or more flashy buttons than the single-anchor originals. Shoppers can also find them with a straighter silhouette and slightly different necklines.
For the most part, it is best to stick to the classic colors of dark blue or black. However, a more casual look can be achieved with one of the lighter shades of brown or gray or a medium shade of blue.