Sep '23

Staying Sharp: A Guide to Finding the Perfect Double-Breasted Pea Coat

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The double-breasted pea coat is a timeless menswear staple that adds a dash of sophistication to any cold-weather outfit. With its naval-inspired roots dating back centuries, the pea coat continues to be a go-to topcoat option for its versatility, durability, and iconic style. If you’re looking to add this essential layering piece to your wardrobe, read on. We’ll explore the history and benefits of the double-breasted pea coat, recommend our top picks to consider, provide tips for choosing the right one, and answer frequently asked questions.

A Brief History of Double-Breasted Pea Coats

The pea coat’s nautical origins trace back to the 1700s, when European sailors required a protective, durable garment that could withstand harsh ocean conditions. The coat was typically made from heavy wool in a dark navy hue, featuring wide lapels, large buttons, and a double-breasted front closure. The name “pea coat” comes from the coat’s resemblance to the pea seed due to its shorter cut.

Over time, the double-breasted pea coat was adopted by military personnel. It became a standard uniform item for the U.S. Navy in the late 1800s. The iconic style has continued to influence fashion over the decades while retaining its maritime roots. Whether you want to channel naval officers of the past or modern-day sophistication, the pea coat is a time-tested choice.

Why Choose a Double-Breasted Pea Coat?

So what makes the double-breasted pea coat such an enduring classic? Here are some of the key benefits that set it apart:

  • Warmth – The wool fabrication coupled with the double-breasted closure provides excellent insulation against frigid temps. High lapels, large buttons, and a slightly oversized fit add to the cozy factor.
  • Versatility – A pea coat can be dressed up or down seamlessly. It works well over both suits and casualwear. The shorter length also allows it to be worn untucked.
  • Durability – Traditional pea coats are crafted from thick, dense wool blends built to last. With proper care, a good quality pea coat can serve you for years.
  • Timeless style – The pea coat’s iconic naval-inspired aesthetic remains perennially stylish. It’s a piece that will never go out of fashion.
  • Refined look – With its structured silhouette and striking lines, the double-breasted pea coat instantly elevates any outfit and conveys polish.

If you’re seeking a coat that combines warmth, versatility, and timeless appeal, the pea coat is an unbeatable choice. Next, let’s explore some of the top options on the market.

Top 5 Double-Breasted Pea Coats for Men

1. Magnoli Clothiers – Officer Pea Coat

For those seeking the ultimate vintage naval-inspired pea coat, Magnoli Clothiers is a top choice. Their officer pea coat is meticulously crafted to mimic styles worn by mid-20th century officers.

Made from a 32oz wool blend, it provides substantial heft and warmth. It comes in classic navy as well as a “midnight black” for a more modern look. The coat hits all the marks of traditional pea coat design: double-breasted front, wide lapels, six anchor buttons, two slant welt pockets, and a back belt and vent.

Attention is paid to fine details like the anchor embroidered buttons, leather under collar, and custom printed lining. For proper fit, Magnoli offers an expansive sizing chart. This coat is an investment at around $260, but delivers excellent construction and authentic military-grade warmth.

2. J.Crew – Dock Peacoat with Thinsulate

For a contemporary take on the pea coat, J.Crew’s version integrates Thinsulate insulation for added lightweight warmth. The Dock peacoat features a wool, nylon, cashmere blend in a slate navy or charcoal gray hue.

The slim, tailored fit flatters most builds. It has a double-breasted front, flap pockets, and partial back lining. The trim silhouette works well over suits and business-casual attire. While still maintaining a classic feel, small details like resin buttons and quilted lining give this coat modern appeal.

J.Crew offers full sizing down to XXXS up to XXXL. At $298, this is a versatile and stylish pea coat option for daily wear. The insulation provides warmth without weight, making it easy to layer.

3. Ralph Lauren – Wool-Blend Pea Coat

Known for iconic American style, Ralph Lauren delivers a traditional take on the pea coat. Made in the USA from a blend of wool, nylon, and cashmere, this coat provides rugged warmth.

It comes in naval navy as well as camel and grey options. The wool-blend pea coat hits all the notes of a standard double-breasted style with wide lapels, double-breasted closure, vertical welt pockets, and anchor-embossed buttons.

A quilted interior vest adds lightweight insulation. At a $575 price point, this coat sits at the luxury end but offers top-notch materials and construction. For a timeless and quality pea coat, Ralph Lauren is a reliable brand. It’s perfect for those seeking heritage American style.

4. Banana Republic – Italian Melton Double Breasted Peacoat

For the man looking for a refined pea coat that can go from workdays to weekends, Banana Republic offers a dapper Italian-made option. Their Italian melton double-breasted peacoat comes in versatile navy or charcoal grey melton wool blend fabric.

The luxe Italian wool features a substantial weight that retains structure while providing warmth. It has a tailored fit with shoulder epaulets, notched lapels, flap pockets, and partial lining. This lends it a dressier feel while maintaining the ease of a classic pea coat.

At a $348 price point, this coat provides upscale materials at an accessible luxury price point. For the modern gent looking for a polished pea coat, this Banana Republic style delivers.

5. London Fog – Admiral Double-Breasted Trench Coat

London Fog is renowned for outerwear, especially trenches. Their take on the classic pea coat is the admiral double-breasted trench. It takes the traditional pea coat formula and adds signature trench coat elements.

Made from a wool and polyester blend, it’s available in navy, black, or grey. Design details include epaulets, button throat closure, gun flap, welt pockets, belted back, and adjustable cuffs. This provides protection from the elements while retaining a clean, tailored silhouette.

With its timeless trench-pea coat mashup design, this coat works well for both causal and professional wear. At around $130, it provides good value. For the man seeking a hybrid coat, London Fog’s admiral trench puts a fresh spin on two classics.

How to Choose the Right Double-Breasted Pea Coat

When shopping for a pea coat, here are some key considerations to finding your perfect match:

  • Intended use – How and where do you plan to wear it most? For occasional formalwear, opt for luxe wool cashmere. For everyday wear, choose a Thinsulate-lined style. If you need rugged outerwear, pick a heavy melton or naval wool blend.
  • Fit – The pea coat traditionally has an easy, slightly oversized fit to allow layering. But many contemporary versions have a trimmer tailored cut. Make sure to try your regular size as well as size up or down. Focus on shoulder width and sleeve length.
  • Fabric – Wool blends like melton or naval wool are best for optimal warmth and durability. But coats with blends of nylon or cashmere can be lighter while still retaining structure.
  • Construction – High quality coats will have reinforced buttons, sturdy seams, quilted lining, and accurate stitching. Don’t forget to check the back belt and vent.
  • Color – Navy remains the gold standard, but charcoal, black, camel, and grey work too. Go bold with a modern red or green hue. Just avoid patterns or distressed finishes.
  • Price – You’ll find quality coats from $150 to over $500. Consider your budget but focus more on finding the right cut, fabric, and construction first.

Taking the time to try on different styles and brands will help you find the ideal double-breasted pea coat for your needs. Look for one with great fit through the shoulders and materials that align with how you’ll wear it. With some smart searching, you can discover a coat that combines affordability, quality materials, timeless naval style, and durable construction.

Frequently Asked Questions About Double-Breasted Pea Coats

What is the difference between single vs. double breasted coats?

  • Single breasted coats have one column of buttons while double breasted has two. Double breasted provides more coverage and warmth due to the extra layer when buttoned. It also evokes more of the historical naval aesthetic.

How do I properly button a double-breasted coat?

  • Always leave the bottom button unfastened for a double-breasted coat. Buttoning the top two or three buttons is preferable. Fastening just the middle button while leaving the top and bottom unbuttoned is also stylish.

What is the warmest fabric for a pea coat?

  • For optimal warmth, look for a wool blend fabric in the 32-35oz weight range, such as melton or naval wool. Wool provides the best insulation and weather resistance. Sturdy blends with nylon, cashmere, or mohair will also keep you toasty.

What colors and fabrics make the most versatile pea coat?

  • A wool blend pea coat in dark navy is always foolproof. But charcoal, black, or camel coats can also pair well with various looks. For fabrics, a mid-weight wool cashmere blend bridges dressy and casual. Avoid overly bulky or shiny fabrics.

How can I ensure the sleeves are the right length?

  • Pea coat sleeves should extend to your wrist bone. Make sure you move your arms fully when trying it on. Size up if sleeves are too short. Sleeve cuffs that hit at your palm base when arms are at your sides is ideal.

Should the coat fit loose or tailored for the double-breasted style?

  • Aim for a fit that falls between fitted and oversized. It should skim your frame to allow for layers but not appear droopy. Make sure shoulders fit right and there’s enough room for a suit jacket. Take both your chest and hip measurements.

What is the best length for a double-breasted pea coat?

  • The standard hits between hip and upper thigh, covering the seat fully. Contemporary versions may be a bit shorter. The ideal functional length will allow you to sit comfortably without the hem riding up. Avoid coats that fall below the knee.

How can I find the right shoulder fit?

  • The coat’s shoulder seams should align with your natural shoulder line and allow free arm movement. Straighter shoulders work best for the traditional pea coat silhouette. Size up if sleeves pull at the shoulders. Aim for a relaxed but not baggy fit.

Are double-breasted coats still stylish?

  • Most definitely! The double-breasted pea coat is a timeless menswear staple. It continues to offer a polished yet casual look that pairs well with both formal and everyday outfits. From heritage Americana style to modern Italian flair, the pea coat remains perennially in vogue.

What is the best way to care for a wool pea coat?

  • Avoid washing as much as possible and have it professionally dry cleaned once a year. Spot treat stains. Store properly on a hanger during warmer months. Allow wool to air out between wears. Steam or spot press with an iron if needed. Using a fabric defuzzer can refresh the nap.

Finding Your Perfect Pea Coat

The double-breasted pea coat has earned its place as an enduring cold weather classic. By taking the time find the right fabric, fit, and features for your lifestyle and style, you’re sure to discover a coat that will serve you handsomely for seasons to come. Whether you channel its military heritage or modern minimalism, the pea coat’s timeless versatility will keep you looking sharp and staying warm.


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