What Is a Peacoat; an Ultimate Guide to the Classic Overcoat

While calling the peacoat a “classic” is accurate, it does not do justice to this marvelous piece of fashion ingenuity, as it holds a special place in men’s clothing. Its tie-ins and extensive history with the military have cemented the peacoat as an integral part of any well-put-together man’s wardrobe. Despite its naval history, the modern rendition of the outerwear enjoys a shiny pedestal in the men’s fashion industry as well as a functional daily driver.

What Are the Different Iterations of a Peacoat?

A peacoat is often defined as a double-breasted overcoat which is usually made out of wool or Melton cloth. The modern iterations of it also come in other materials such as leather. Other than the double-breasted front, the second prominent defining feature of a peacoat is its oversized lapels and collar, which can be erected to gain protection against the wind and other natural elements.

The real identity of the peacoat, however, lies in its captivating history, its use in the past, and its role in the present modern age of fashion.

History of the Peacoat

The history of the coat is not a story of an invention that took the world by storm. The peacoat as we know it today is an evolution of many historical versions from several different regions. So, let’s take a look at them one by one and establish our way to the modern version.

The Dutch Origin

As mentioned earlier, it has very strong military connections, and these connections become more apparent the deeper we look into its history. There are many different origins, but the one that seems the most plausible is the one suggesting that the outerwear was invented by the Dutch army in 1800 as a uniform for their naval sector. The basis of the iconic double-breasted silhouette and the large collar was established in this first generation of the peacoat; then, this design got revitalized by the British.

The British Renaissance

The Dutch peacoat remained a part of their military, but its reach outside the border was minimal. This all changed when the British clothing brand “Camplin,” founded by Mr. Edgard Camplin, popped up in the 1850s. The primary customer for that store was the British navy, as it provided them with uniforms. Mr. Camplin suggested the creation of a coat for the naval officers, as their uniform up until then was the same as the sailors.

The British navy rendition became extremely popular, and it even crossed the ocean to America shortly after that. The double-breasted woolen coat became an essential piece of clothing in navy history. After world war II ended, a lot of extra military clothing ended up in the hands of the public, and that is when it started its journey towards global fame.

Why Do They Call It a Peacoat?

As quintessential of an item the peacoat is, the origin of its name is sort of lost to time. There is a lot of conflicting information out there; the one that seems the most plausible is its Dutch origin. The original Dutch version of this coat was called the “pijjekker,” which roughly translates to a jacket/coat made from coarse wool.

What Is the Difference Between a Peacoat and a Trench Coat?

Peacoats and trench coats look very similar to an unfamiliar eye, and that is not without reason. There are several similarities between the two; both have a military origin, and the traditional trench coats had double-breasted front, just like the peacoat. This is, however, where the similarities end and the differences start to show up.

For starters, the traditional trench coats were designed for protecting soldiers against the damp weather and rain, while the peacoat was intended more like a winter overcoat. Trench coats were made lightweight so as to not hinder the soldier’s movement; peacoats, on the other hand, are a bit on the heavier side; focusing on the comfort factor.

Additionally, the differences between the two extend in the realm of length and construction material as well. Peacoats are usually thigh-high and above the knee, while the trench coat is usually much lower, often covering all the way down to ankles. In terms of construction materials, the trench coat is generally made from durable and shiny leather, while the most iconic version of the former is made from wool. Although, there are some modern styles of this outerwear that are made from leather.

Is Peacoat in Style in 2021?

Yes, it is a significant part of men’s outerwear fashion and is almost a must-have for anyone looking to build a complete wardrobe. From the trends we’ve seen so far, the future of the outerwear looks bright as an icon for men’s overcoats.

Its navy influence, while still present and critical to its identity, is fading out of the minds of the general public. Today the men’s peacoat is not famous because of its naval tie-ins; it is famous because it is a functional coat that protects from the weather, all the while giving its wearer a certain charm and a dandy look. If styled appropriately, this classic coat can go toe to toe with the fancy leather jackets of the modern era.

How to Clean a Peacoat?

Peacoats being a functional and comfortable form of outerwear; you would want to wear them all the time. But all this usage comes with a price. Woolen/Cotton peacoats, in particular, are prone to getting dirty over time. You have to clean them on a regular basis. Otherwise, they start to become filthy. Leather ones are a bit more tolerant, and often a gentle wipe with a moist cloth is just enough for the exterior. This doesn’t always work, and there will be times when your coats would need serious cleaning. So, what do you do in this situation?

If you search online for a solution, you’ll find many “experts” recommending a whole host of different and bold ideas. But trying them out on your precious peacoat would be like gambling; you’d never know how it might turn out. That’s why we recommended taking your coat to a professional dry-cleaning service and letting them figure out the best cleaning process for your specific coat. This is much safer than DIY-ing what you saw on the internet and makes sure that your coat remains in tip-top condition for a longer period of time.

Where to Buy a Peacoat?

Military-style clothing is experiencing a recent resurgence in men’s fashion popularity. Peacoats, in particular, are at the forefront of this rising graph. However, the decision to purchase can be a bit confusing for some folks. There are two main types of sellers on the market.

First are the cheap, low-end, and high-volume sellers. These kinds of inexpensive versions of the coats are mass-produced and sold through the internet. While they might look like a great value and a way to save money while purchasing a significant item for your closet, the reality is that these cheaply made products are a complete waste of your money. The quality is always atrocious, and they won’t even last a full season.

On the other side of the spectrum are the high-street luxury brands. Although their products are of high quality, the issue lies in their pricing and value proposition. The prices on these luxury peacoats are very high at best and absurd at their worst. Most people can build a significant portion of a complete wardrobe for the price of one of these high-end peacoats.

So, what is the solution? Where should you buy a peacoat from? The answer is, from  The Jacket Maker, as we offer the quality of high-end brands at a price that makes sense. With our direct-to-consumer model, we are able to provide an insane cost to value ratio without sacrificing a single thread in terms of quality and overall fit and finish.

5 of Our Best Peacoats

Let’s take a look at five of the best peacoats from our men’s collection and figure out how you can style them in your day-to-day life.

Ashville Wool Peacoat

Ashville Wool Peacoat

First on our list is a long cotton peacoat that fits the classic depiction of this outerwear perfectly. The thigh-high length of the coat, combined with the cotton exterior and smooth viscose lining, creates a piece of outerwear that is the epitome of comfort. At the same time, the two outer and two inner pockets provide extra utility and a very practical element to the overcoat.

The star of the show for this coat, however, has to be its grey color with accent epaulets. This specific color is excellent for a multitude of looks. You can wear it with a sweatshirt and wool pants for the ultimate comfort on your way to the coffee shop on a Saturday morning. You also can rock this on a casual business setting by pairing it with an outfit consisting of a dress shirt, a vest, pants, and a matching tie.

Froth Khaki Wool Peacoat

Froth Khaki Wool Peacoat

This peacoat is quite similar to the previous one. The design, length, and overall shape are fairly alike. The most significant distinction between the two is its color, and this one thing makes all the difference in the world. Other than the color, a small difference is that this one does not have the epaulet, but they are not really required, as the bright khaki color is striking enough to carry this coat to victory on its own.

When it comes to styling, the options are wide open. You can go business casual with blue jeans, a light-colored dress shirt, a dark sweater, and a pair of brown leather boots. Another combo that you can try is the urban look, which you can recreate with everything from V-necks to turtle necks.

Mod Black Leather Peacoat

Mod Black Leather Peacoat

The previous two versions we talked about were made from cotton and had the length and appearance of the antique versions. This one, on the other hand, is made from cowhide leather and constructed with a shiny semi-aniline finish. The design, on the whole, is relatively minimalistic, while the hip-high length gives it a slick modern touch.

When looking at the way of styling this coat, the most exciting way is to think of it as a shirt or as the topmost layer of your outfit. Completely closing the double-breasted front of this coat entirely hides whatever is under it and allows you to pull off a very sophisticated and sharp look. Staying on the same line of thought, if the upper section of your outfit is only the coat, you can try various pants and shoe combos. Blue jeans and black sneakers are a tried and tested blend.

Mr. Bailey Black Leather Naval Peacoat

Mr. Bailey Black Leather Naval Peacoat

If you like the previous one in terms of the overall design but want something with a bit more personality, then this is the coat you’re looking for. While the type of leather and color is the same, the silhouette has some changes that give this one a completely different vibe. The length of this one is slightly longer than the Mod black one, and the lapels do not turn into a shirt-like collar when the front is closed fully.

If we look at it as a whole, there is one thing very apparent; this is a dapper man’s overcoat. While you can wear it for business-related occasions, the true strength of this coat lies in its compatibility with the streetwear look. You should try to come up with an outfit that represents you as a person, as that would be the best way to rock this wear.

Mr. Bailey Brown Leather Naval Peacoat

Mr. Bailey Brown Leather Naval Peacoat

A black leather peacoat is an excellent addition to every man’s wardrobe and will serve them on almost all occasions. However, the popularity of black can, in many instances, work against it and make it a color that you see everywhere. So, if you want something a bit more unique and want to stand out from the crowd, then the pull-up finish and brown color of this coat are the perfect fit for you.

In terms of styling this piece with other garments, the safest bet is to utilize the ultimate synergy between brown and blue and pair this coat with a pair of blue jeans. A surprisingly great combo is this coat with navy blue jeans and leather shoes.

Closing Thoughts:

The peacoat started its journey as a winter overcoat about two hundred years ago. It found itself on the shoulders of high-ranking naval officers in late 1800. The travel overseas was the push that the peacoat needed for mainstream success. It became a household name and has remained so ever since. 

The peacoat is still a part of the US navy uniform. Yet, the reason behind its popularity in the general public has changed dramatically. Everyone who buys a peacoat in today’s climate surely appreciates its fascinating history, but that is not the reason why they bought it.

The modern peacoat is much more than a vintage overcoat. It is a statement that resides near the top of the hierarchy of men’s outerwear fashion.

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