The pea coat, pea jacket or pilot coat is a thick wool coat traditionally issued by the navies of various countries and worn by naval personnel and by merchant marine and dock workers as well. The pea coat is a classically simple garment that, like a dinner suit, is flattering to anyone who wears it. It may be worn with slacks and a thick turtleneck sweater, or with jeans and a tee shirt, making everything – and everyone – look a touch more elegant.
1) Choose Your Style – Military surplus pea coats are available for very reasonable prices, and for gentlemen, they are great choices. Though called navy blue, the current issue pea coats are actually black. Military style pea coats are available through numerous designers. Men, as a rule, should stick with the voluminous, traditional military cut coats. A young lady, on the other hand, may choose to opt for a fitted pea coat style jacket that is more flattering to her figure.
2) Check Details of Manufacture – If you are purchasing a new navy surplus coat, the quality is probably very high. If you are bargain hunting, however, you may find inferior manufacturing practices, and you should check to make sure that the quality is at the level you would like. I purchased a pea coat a couple of years ago from a major club store chain, and when I got it home I found that the lining was twisted in such a way that my arm could not go through the sleeve.
3) Consider a Vintage Style Coat – There are many purveyors of World War I and World War II era uniforms online, and some of them make very accurate uniform replicas. Some of the vintage style pea coats have elegantly retro looks to them. Pea coats have been worn since the middle of the nineteenth century, and some of them worn by European navies were longer and had toggle and cord fasteners. They do not really look like the classic US style pea coats, but they are handsome and flattering cold weather coats nonetheless.
4) Shop Carefully – Pea coats are truly universal in their appeal. If shopping at high-dollar stores, shoppers will certainly find high quality products, for premium prices. On the other hand, they may be found at outlet and bargain stores, but examine products from these sources carefully for quality of manufacture. Finally, my favorite source for pea coats, check the online military surplus stores. At these outlets you may find the best quality of coats for fair prices.