Pea Coats

The classic wool U.S. Navy Pea Coat is a silhouette that has been worn for years. This timeless piece is perfect for a preppy, nautical style. Throughout the years Alpha has produced pea coats for men, women, and kids. Brush up on your pea coat basics with these 10 facts.

1) While its origin story is up for debate, the most popular explanation is that it dates back to the 1800s when the Dutch, who were viewed as the Naval powerhouse, worn the coat. It comes from the word “pije” or pij-jekker which means pea coat.

2) While it was the Dutch who are credited with the founding of the pea coat, it is the British Navy who made the coat a popular silhouette.The British version of the coat was designed to be a uniform for petty officers.

3) The U.S. Navy was the third country to adopt the pea coat. The coat was used for “reefers”, who were the sailors responsible for the unenviable task of climbing up the rigging of sailing ships.

4) The original WWI Pea Coat was a midnight blue color and featured buttons with an anchor with 13 stars around them.

5) The number of buttons typically used on the coat varies. During the WWII days they tended to have 10-button jackets which evolved to eight and today it is more common to see six buttons.

6) Today’s pea coats have buttons with the fouled anchor” design, which refers to the traditional image of an anchor wrapped in a rope.

7) Early pea coats were 100%, Kersey blue wool. They then switched to Melton wool, a variant made of 70 percent wool and 30 percent acrylic. The wool is woven tightly and treated with heat to bind the fibers together resulting in a very warm water and wind-resistant fabric that was perfect for life at sea. At some point after that, poly blended wool was offered as well.

8) Pea coats today are manufactured by Sterlingwear of Boston, who also offer a civilian version in black.

9) WWI Pea Coats featured handwarmer pockets, as well as flapped pockets Today the hand warmer pockets, are placed a bit lower, and the flap pockets disappeared.

10) Original pea coats had pockets that were lined with tan or light brown corduroy. In 1968, the corduroy pocket lining was substituted with a soft blue, white, off-white cotton lining.

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