Style Advice / January 29th, 2015
The Peacoat: The Man’s Ultimate Guide
It’s a funny thing.
What is a big hit today could easily be forgotten tomorrow.
The peacoat has learned first hand how it feels at both ends of this spectrum.
However, the tides are turning once again in favor of the peacoat. Gaining more and more popularity as days go by.
This has not always been the case.
Like many other men’s garments, the peacoat started out strong, lost its luster throughout the years only to make a triumphant comeback.
As far as I’m concerned, the peacoat is here to stay.
So what makes this coat such an essential item in your closet? How did the peacoat come to be and most importantly, how do you incorporate one into your own unique style?
All are valuable questions that I am aiming to answer in this post. Continue to read on to find out more!
The History of the Pea Coat
It is only fitting that a jacket such as the peacoat has such an illustrious history. There are many renditions of how the peacoat came to be and I will list out the top two for your reading pleasure.
The most common version of the origin of the peacoat has this garment created by British sailors. With its growing popularity and practicality, the American navy also adopted the peacoat for daily use. Originally navy in color, the first versions of the peacoat used by the British Navy were waist length and double-breasted which allowed sailors to easily climb up and down ropes without the disturbance of lengthy and heavy fabrics weighing them down.
The second version sets the origins of the peacoat in the Netherlands all the way back in the 16th century in which pea derives from “pije”, a coat made of course wool. During this time period, the Netherlands had a fairly strong navy force. Given the strong tie between sailing and peacoats via the strings of history, it’s not an outlandish claim to make if you say the Dutch were the creators of this fine coat.
Given the use in the Navy, it didn’t take long for men in the general public to begin wearing this coat for the warmth it provides and the somewhat formal appearance it presents itself with.
However, like many other garments in the history of men’s style, the peacoat fell out of favor mostly due to the lack of attention tailors paid to this coat over the years along with strong competition to its more popular cousin, the trench coat.
The great news is: peacoats are back with a vengeance.
There are now countless styles available for men to choose from and various looks you can incorporate into your own style.
With that said, there are certain rules you should strongly consider when in the market for a quality peacoat. Most of these rules are applicable to other areas in menswear, but still feel they are worth stating to avoid any unnecessary mistakes.
Length is probably the one quality that you will see the most difference when comparing peacoats from different brands. Peacoats truly look the best when the length lands just below the waist, slight hugging your rear. Avoid getting anything too short as this will give off the appearance that you are heavier than you really are. On the opposite end of the spectrum, avoid a peacoat that is too long, as this will reduce the inverted triangle look on your upper torso, which is a flattering quality on a man’s frame.
As the peacoat is the outer layer in any given outfit, it should closely hug the body to show off your figure but loose enough to be put over a blazer or suit jacket. One quick trick you can use to see if the sizing is right for you; hug yourself while wearing a buttoned up peacoat. The jacket should feel snug but not too constricting. Always aim for something that is more fitted but never sacrifice on comfort.
Ideally, the peacoat should always be buttoned up to maintain its traditional look. These jackets have been worn for its warmth for centuries and look best buttoned up. The double-breasted version is the original but there is nothing wrong with the single-breasted version, which is a personal preference for me.
Very similar to a blazer, the shoulders should be the first area you confirm fits well as this would be near impossible for a tailor to alter in the future. Speaking of tailors, it is not a bad idea to bring your newly purchased peacoat to one to bring the waist area a little in if needed. This is especially true if you have broad shoulders and a thin waist.
How to Wear a Peacoat?
Now that you got the rules covered, the next, equally important questions come into play. What am I going to wear my peacoat with and in which environments are acceptable?
Well, the great thing about a peacoat, if you choose a traditional color such as navy or grey, is that they are extremely versatile.
You can pretty much wear one in any environment.
Corporate / Business
As the peacoat is used as the most outer layer in any given look, it should also be the thickest layer you wear. With that said, the peacoat is excellent to wear over a suit. I would even go as far as to say that this is what the peacoat looks best in.
Wearing your peacoat over business attire such as a suit is very acceptable when meeting clients or going to and from the office. You wll not at all look out of place in the corporate environment while maintaining the perfect combination of warmth and style during the fall and winter months.
When not in the office, the peacoat also serves as an excellent addition in casual environments. A charcoal peacoat looks great with a pair of blue jeans. Throw in a pair of brown shoes; a colored cardigan or cashmere sweater over a white dress shirt and you will be set. I am a big advocate in layering and there is no exception in casual environments.
Incorporate a similar look as described above when going out with friends at a bar or having some brunch with the family.
This guide wouldn’t be complete without a little mention of how to wear a peacoat on a date with your lady. I love wearing a well-fitted navy peacoat when on a date with either classic chinos or blue jeans. Throw in a tailored light blue dress shirt and you will increase the chances of catching her attention.
A perfect look for a casual dinner or even some late nice ice-skating.
There you have it gentleman, a guide that has hopefully helped you understand the peacoat a little more and has enticed you to learn more about this timeless classic.
What are your thoughts on the peacoat? Is this the go-to jacket for you in the winter?