Long favoured for its ability to stave off wind and water, the trusty pea coat has journeyed from naval boats to high-fashion womanswear runways
Deconstructing the pea coat
This hip-length jacket, in heavy felted wool, dates from the Netherlands in the late 1700s – the name is believed to derive from the Dutch word “pij”, meaning course fabric. Dense enough to stave off wind and water, this immensely practical double-breasted garment was soon adopted by the British navy, followed by its counterparts in the United States, who issued it to sailors, specifically the reefers who scaled the rigging on the ships.
The name stuck, and today reefer jackets and peacoats are distinguishable only by the buttons, with the former having brass buttons marked with naval motifs such as anchors. Now, peacoats are considered a classic menswear staple, found in either traditional dark blue, black or leather. When Daniel Craig wore one in the 2012 James Bond filmSkyfall, he cemented its contemporary pedigree.
Already a firm fan of the jacket’s style, the British actor insisted it should be worn on-screen. Produced by top names such as Saint Laurent and Burberry, the peacoat is also the domain of smaller, more niche labels such as Barbour and Billy Reid – the latter label was behind the Bond jacket.
Lately, womenswear has also been getting in on the act, but in much bolder colours, such as Maison Margiela’s vivid red jacket, Twinset’s offering in hot pink and Tomas Maier’s peachy toned, looser cut Boyfriend peacoat.