Style Profiles: The Peacoat And All It’s Mighty
Heading into early winter, there’s one quintessential piece of outerwear you’re bound to start seeing more of out and about on the town, no matter which part of the world you might find yourself in.
It’s warm, durable, water-resistant, and has a rich history in naval warfare along with many, many eye-catching roles as a costume in popular film and television programs. Of course, this week we’re profiling the Peacoat, a truly emblematic and iconic example of what timeless menswear is all about.
To learn a little bit more about the Pea, its historic origins, and how to style one ahead of this winter season (or any winter, honestly), please enjoy our style profile on the Peacoat.
What’s A Peacoat?
No rewards for guessing what category of clothing the Peacoat falls into. Big consequences if you get it wrong, however.
The Peacoat is, of course, a coat — but only just, according to our definition. As most do, we draw the line between what’s considered a jacket and a coat at the hip line. Jackets fall at or above the hips, whereas coats hang their hemlines below the hips (and most commonly below the seat).
However, the Peacoat’s hemline falls somewhere in between. Despite being double-breasted and quite hefty in terms of its weight of fabric, the Peacoat is intentionally cut shorter than most other coats. In fact, some barely cover their wearers’ seats (read: arses, for the sartorially uninitiated), which is a rarity for outerwear designed for cold weather.
Speaking of cold weather, we’re begging you to not commit any of our six unforgivable cold-weather accessory sins this year. Find out what they are in our article all about the 6 Cold-Weather Accessory Mistakes To Avoid This Fall here.
Where They Come From
Just like many of the most iconic pieces of men’s clothing, the Peacoat was originally born as a piece of military attire — a design for naval militaries, to be more specific. However, unlike many other military-issue pieces, the Peacoat’s country of origin is up for debate.
Many countries have tried to lay claim as being the inventors of the classic Peacoat design, including the Dutch, the German, the French (of course), and even us Brits. What we know for sure is that Peacoats were first worn by European navies and then several decades later stolen — err… adopted — by the Americans.
The military designs of the Peacoat are so old in fact that there are references to early versions of it that date as far back as the early 18th century! No matter which navy has issued Peacoats throughout their history, however, they all share some similar design features, including:
- Heavyweight Navy-Coloured Wool
- Double-Breasted Button Closure (Most Commonly A 3×2 or 4×2)
- Large Buttons (Most Commonly w/ Naval Insignia)
- Wide Lapels w/ Neck Button Closures
- Slash Pockets
- Short Hemline
The Peacoat’s naval military origins are also the reason for its relatively high hemline, as Peacoats were designed with function in mind first. A shorter hemline allowed for more practicality when a Peacoat’s wearer was aboard navy ships and vessels as there are many ladders that require climbing and many tight spaces that require a brown paper bag to hyperventilate into before squeezing through. One that goes nice with a Peacoat, preferably.
How To Style A Peacoat Today
If you live in a cool climate, chances are you’ll already be quite used to seeing many guys dust off their Peacoats around mid-Autumn and early winter. And chances are, you’ll probably also be quite used to seeing guys make a few flagrant styling mistakes when doing so too.
The good news is that there truly are only a few styling mistakes one can make when wearing a Peacoat, which is perhaps why they’ve stuck around the world of mainstream fashion for so long. Peacoats will pair well with essentially any of your cold-weather wardrobe seeing as their versatile dark navy colour, forgiving brushed wool outer layer, and classically-inclined structure and silhouette adapt adeptly into most smart-casual outfits.
However, there are a few things that don’t pair well with the Pea. To start, you should try your best not to wear anything up top with a longer hemline than the coat’s. While layering is something we get excited about in cooler weather, you definitely don’t want any of your inner layers poking out down below the bottom of your Peacoat.
Layering is an art that deserves to be appreciated — but in order for you to do your best work, you’ll need to pick up a new piece of equipment: the Gilet. To learn all about Why The Gilet Is The Best Layering Piece For Cool Weather, click here.
In fact, this is a pretty reliable menswear rule for essentially all outerwear — if it’s thicker than a blazer, try to make your outermost layer the longest up-top.
This rule also means no tailoring underneath a Peacoat either. Generally speaking, a classically tailored jacket will have an equal if-not longer hemline than a Peacoat (which goes against our reasoning for jackets vs coats, we know), so that means the two don’t play very well together.
Additionally, a Peacoat is a bit of a mismatch in formality for tailoring too. In this instance, both the tailoring and the Peacoat’s wool qualities and thread counts don’t mingle too well, creating too much of a visual juxtaposition between them to ever achieve an attractive visual harmony.
Lastly, you should try not to wear your Peacoat unbuttoned. This rule also goes for most double-breasted coats and jackets too — DB’s tend to look much better buttoned up whereas single-breasted jackets and coats are more capable of being worn open.
Speaking of double-breasted jackets, weren’t you on the hunt for one? Let us save you some time — here’s a few you’d look extra tidy in.
Where To Find Your Perfect Peacoat
These days, finding a Peacoat in any high-street shop or clothing outlet isn’t difficult. You really can go scraping the bottom of the menswear barrel and come up with something that at least resembles a classic Peacoat. However, if you’ve got the means to buy better than bottom of the barrel, there are some truly covetable pieces currently available.
But what should you be looking for in a Peacoat, regardless of who makes it? Well, a nice thick, preferably canvassed wool is a start — you’ll want to find something that might actually hold up on a blustery naval ship deck.
From there, look for something with sturdy buttons, perhaps in a wood, horn, or even a light metal (as was traditional) with a classic anchor emblem embossed into them. Try to avoid patch, flap, or any other pocket style other than slashed — straight or, better yet, slanted is best.
And remember, the hemline should fall somewhere below your hips but not too far from the bottom of your seat. Once you’ve got those boxes ticked, you’ll be off to the races, lad.