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      history Pea coat

      The pea coat is one of the oldest garments that is still worn in its traditional version. Made from coarse and heavy wool in navy blue, it has been used by sailors on the North Sea since the 1700s; in the following century it was adopted as official uniform by both the British and US navies. The style is close-fitting, double-breasted with wide lapels, hip-length and slightly flared with an indented waist. Turned up, the distinctive oversized collar functions almost like a hood.

      history Pea coat

      pea coat
      Photo: Getty Images

      The pea coat is one of the oldest garments that is still worn in its traditional version. Made from coarse and heavy wool in navy blue, it has been used by sailors on the North Sea since the 1700s; in the following century it was adopted as official uniform by both the British and US navies. The name comes from the Dutch word ‘pij’, which described the resistant cloth in the original jackets.

      The coat was designed to protect against cold and wind, and to allow for free movement during outdoor ship work. The style is close-fitting, double-breasted with wide lapels, hip-length and slightly flared with an indented waist. Turned up, the distinctive oversized collar functions almost like a hood, and the two vertical slit pockets are lined to keep the hands warm. The coat traditionally fastens with six or eight buttons etched with a fouled anchor symbol.

      Pea coats became popular in the late 1940s, inspired by the style of American sailors, and were brought into French fashion two decades later when masculine shapes were re-interpreted to form a new and androgynous female look.