The peacoat's kind of weird, right? It's like someone sawed the bottom half off a topcoat and called it a day. But when you consider the peacoat's original function, it kind of makes sense: They were first made for Dutch navy men, and they were called "pijjekkers," or "pijes" for short. (If you know how the Dutch pronounce "J," you know where the "p" comes from.)
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History of the Peacoat
The coarse wool coats worked well on the windy, wet decks and docks, which is why they quickly maneuvered through the Dutch, British, and American militaries. And, as most garments do, they reached the general public post-war. The features that were added specifically for sailors — the double-breasted front for buttoning up all the way, the side slits for easy access to internal pockets or belts, the tightly wound wool exterior, the wider hips for easy mobility and the form-fitting torso to keep you planted when the wind picks up — were instant hits with the general public, who were happy with its gentlemanly qualities and its obvious abilities to keep you warm, dry, and dapper.
What to Look for
And although I'd argue the style is less popular now than it was, say, 10 years ago, it's still plenty stylish: an option someone should splurge on if the right one crosses their plate. But what does the right one look like? Well, if it's true to form, it hits right at the waist (or slightly below it), has a double-breasted front and a high collar.
Avoid non-traditional colors — stick to navy, black or gray — and historically inaccurate materials. Sure, leather accents might look nice to you, but storied brands rarely stray from the style's origins, which means most will assume yours came from a fast fashion outpost like Zara, which historically has no problem altering icons.
How to Wear a Peacoat
When celebrity stylist Ilaria Urbinati puts her A-list clients in a peacoat, she's always sure the rest of the outfit is equally as tidy. These waist-length coats work well with tailored trousers and slimmer shoes, like all-white sneakers, as she's previously suggested. Avoid wide-leg pants if you can, and stick with simpler layers underneath. The peacoat works well with nice, knit sweaters, even chunky ones, too, which nod to the style's aquatic origins. But most won't fit much more. Peacoats were trim to make sailors' silhouettes a little more aerodynamic, which meant they've long been tailored, not oversized. Most modern renditions skew slim, too.