Never underestimate the power of a classic. When you put on a pea coat, you're wearing a bit of world history on your back. And whether it's the clean lines, the simple military styling or the rugged undertones, no man looks bad in a pea coat. It can be worn with nearly everything—and it's been around so long, it basically has been.
Today's pea coat (like the one to the right) was adapted from the British Royal Navy's reefer jacket. Made for midshipmen, the hearty wool coat was short enough to allow movement and double-breasted to boost wind resistance and reduce the chance of snagging a sail's rope. The jacket's functionality was so well received, it was adopted by nearly all of Europe's naval fleets. The term "pea coat" is believed to have stemmed from the Dutch word "pij," meaning coarse wool. It was later referred to as a pilot's jacket and then shortened to p-jacket before eventually morphing into the term "pea coat."
New York-based Schott has been making all-weather outerwear since 1913. They began producing pea coats for the US Navy just before World War II and continued on as the official outfitter until the late 1990s. It was then that the company began offering the jacket to civilians—still crafting each one to exact military specifications. And according to Jason Schott, chief operating officer (and great-grandson of the company's founder), it's been their best-selling jacket ever since because it never goes out of style. Which is why every fashion label from Prada to Old Navy makes a version. But if you're going to wear something as iconic as a pea coat, why not get the real thing?
$188 by Schott NYC
- U.S. Navy Uniform Regulations (Article 3501)
American sailors in some of Schott's first pea coats produced for the Navy.
The company's founder, Irving Schott, driving by the cutting tables with rolls of melton wool for pea coats at the company's first factory.