Despite now being an adored piece that offers both incredible warmth and versatile style, the peacoat has a much more rugged history than many know. This wardrobe staple has come from humble roots to become a piece that is regularly in vogue, so we thought it might be interesting to touch on the interesting origin story of the peacoat. So, if you’re someone who is interested in learning what made a rugged coat of military origin turn into one of the most beloved cold weather items out there, make sure to read on to find out more!
The military beginnings of the peacoat
When you’re looking to buy men’s or women’s tops online, peacoats are by far one of the best options to manage the chill of winter. This is best demonstrated by the continued tweaks that both menswear and womenswear designers continue to impart on these coats, touches that usually both contribute something new while acknowledging the classic silhouette that we all know and love. As some may already know, the history of the peacoat lies in navies around the world from as early as the 19th century. In this form it was worn by sailors of the powerful Dutch navy, and this is also where the name of the coat was developed – the name pea coat came from the Dutch word “pije,” which phonetically sounds similar to pea. The word pije which was used in Dutch to describe a coat made from coarse wool fabric, of which these coats are comprised. Although the Dutch invented the coat, British sailors very much popularised it, where a very similarly designed coat was used as a uniform for petty officers in the British Navy.
The peacoat moves overseas
Not long after finding a home with the British Navy, the peacoat made its way to America’s waters. It was here that the US Navy embraced the coat, providing it to “reefers,” sailors with the very unenviable task of climbing up the rigging of sailing ships. In the US also adopting the coat, it should be very clear that through use, the peacoat was found to have unmatched durability and warmth for the conditions out at sea, such as the harsh rain, surf and very cold temperatures. This durability and insulation was directly a result of peacoats being very form-fitting, which was instrumental in keeping out aggressive winds. The coats also still tended to flair out at the hips, as this made movement much simpler when engaging with tougher work. In terms of construction, these navy peacoats were made out of Melton wool, a variant made of 70 percent wool and 30 percent acrylic. In the case of Melton wool, the fabric is woven tightly and treated with heat to bind the fibres together resulting in a very warm water and wind-resistant fabric, which is why these coats were so persistently warm.
Peacoats in the modern age
From these rugged, humble beginnings, the peacoat gradually transformed into a piece that any fashion-conscious person would recognise. Although the functionality of the coat remains consistent in modern times, making it the perfect choice for colder days in winter and autumn, it is still just as stylish as ever. It is often the case that these bulky coats are streamlined to provide more tailored fits even with all of the warmth of the original fashion design, and it is possible to find coats today in a whole range of wool gauges to match whatever your budget may be.