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What are the Different Types of Pea Coats?

By Sheri Cyprus
Updated May 21, 2024
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Pea coats are classic outerwear worn by both men and women. The pea coat dates back to the 1700s, when it was created for male military sailors. By the mid 1900s, the pea coat, or sailor jacket as it was also called, started becoming popular in women's fashion. While the double breasted, hip length look of the coat remains pretty much the same, the different types of pea coats available today include men's, women's, spring, winter, swing, and tailored versions.

Tailored pea coat styles feature shaping details, such as vertical seam work. This tailoring makes these coats a little more slimming; the original pea coat style isn't the most flattering for fuller and shorter body types. Tailored pea coats may feature a vent in the back, a vertical opening in the middle bottom edge of the coat. It helps to make a garment easier to sit down in while also adding style.

Swing pea coats flare outward from the waist. They still usually end at the hip like the original pea coat style, but are tent-like from the waist down. These are women's coat styles that are available in winter- and spring-weight fabrics. Swing pea coat versions often have wide kimono sleeves that, like the jacket, taper outward from the top to the bottom.

Wool is the most popular pea coat fabric. It's suitable for winter or cooler spring weather. Other fabrics used for men's and women's pea-types of jackets include corduroy, khaki, cotton, and denim. These lighter and more casual fabrics are used for spring styles of pea coat. One of the most luxurious, elegant pea coat materials is the ultra-soft goat's wool known as cashmere.

Men's pea coats are available in classic colors, such as blue and tan, while women's versions tend to have more color options. A women's spring pea coat could be bright red or pale cream, or it could be a fashion color such as banana yellow or celery green. Heavy wool pea coats tend to be sold in deep shades, such as classic navy blue or dark rich red.

All types of pea coat are double breasted, meaning they have two rows of buttons rather than most outerwear styles that have only one button row. While many pea coats, both men's and women's, have six buttons, some feature only four larger ones. A women's pea coat is designed to fit at the hips, while the typical men's version is usually a little longer than hip length.

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Discussion Comments
By anon134623 — On Dec 15, 2010

Based on the coats given to what family I have in the Navy, it seems they no longer expect as robust a set of coping skills on the part of their sailors and have improved the quality of what they issue. As for myself, I own a pea coat purchased from target and it's worked quite nicely in all the weather I've encountered, worst being about 10 degrees while windy.

By anon112548 — On Sep 20, 2010

Well, there is nothing here on the 'Winter' Pea Coat.

Don't know what they gave me back in the 70s while in the USCG, but I froze walking down Euclid Ave in Cleveland during winter!

I considered it the worst coat I ever owned!

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