Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Winter Essential: The Pea Coat

"Pea coat" refers to any number of coats, but they are all generally double-breasted (as shown), have a skirt that falls about as low as the sleeves, and sport the lapel style you see here.  Navy and gray are popular colors. I obtained this specimen, a Kenneth Cole Reaction, on sale at Filene's for $100.  The wool isn't exactly luxurious, but it's certainly warm.  Perfect for the snowy days we're seeing in D.C.

The pea coat's design originated with the U.S. Navy.  This might explain why the design is so functional. 

The right-hand column of buttons all operate to secure the jacket snugly across the chest.  There is a button on the coat's inside which fastens to the right-hand lapel's buttonhole when the fold is laid flat across the chest.  There is another button beneath the right-hand collar which fastens to the left lapel's buttonhole.  These features allow for four rows of buttons protecting the chest and collarbone.  Flipping up the collar in this configuration lets it serve as a pseudo-scarf for keeping the neck warm.

The pea coat is versatile enough to wear with jeans and a polo shirt (as I am today) all the way up to anything short of a suit.  It's a popular choice for the necktie-but-no-suit-required office worker. 

Leave the top two buttons undone and flip the collar for a contemporary look.  The lapels will fall halfway and end up looking jaunty.

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