Peas, please!

One story says the pea coat (probably from the Dutch pijjaker, a jacket of coarse wool) originated with Dutch sailors over 200 years ago; there are other acccounts of its provenance, but regardless of fact or fiction, the garment endures for a reason: the insouciant-yet-functional coat is long enough to cover the hips, short enough not to create uncomfortable bulk while driving. Like its cousin the duffle, peas protect both sexes of all ages, while lending a snappy-salty air.

Some women avoid double-breasted styles, but seeing the pea coats on several voluptuous friends, I noticed the double row of buttons actually elongates, when the entire coat fits well. 

Options are numerous as Christmas trees on a city lot, and today's windows are overflowing with peas!

Wild peas

J. Crew's Majesty Pea (regularly about $325, but on sale if you hit the right day) comes in a turquoise that thumbs its naval nose at winter darks.

Holy flippin' Admiral! Michael Kors makes one in leopard; on sale via House of Fraser, £200:

Lauren (Ralph Lauren) have re-imagined the coat as a down puffer. At first I thought this might deliver the best of both worlds, but it doesn't cover the hips. I do like that it's washable. Price, about $250.

Classics, in degrees of warmth

Land's End "luxe" pea comes in colours like plum and red, but if camel is your palette, consider the vicuna. Price about $200; again, LE run frequent promotions and free shipping offers. 

They also carry the coat lined with Thinsulate, but only in neutrals, and a "luxe edition", in regent blue with dark-brown buttons, now on sale (limited sizes) for about $110. (Reading the reviews, I see some women changed the buttons, one of my favourite tricks.)

Bonjour, Brittany!

The French pea coat (caban), in classic navy, from a Breton vendor whom I recommend, Chal Loisir is like dropping anchor in a calm port after those wilder options.

The "Isabelle Hiver" comes in sizes up to a French 52 (see chest measurements on site), and has a soft matelassé lining as well as the requisite and reassuring details. Price, €242 which includes a free lambswool tartan scarf. 

A lighter-weight model, simply called "Isabelle" is also on the site, as well as the uber-preppy "St. Briac" from the temple of French BCBG, St. James.

Posh peas

The Brits have staked their own claim to peas.

I admire Brora's Linton tweed pea coat (£425), which looks like a double-breasted coat to me. Made in an evocative tweed (Linton also supply Chanel), with Liberty-print lining, this is one classy topper nonetheless.

Brora also offer a serene Delft blue textured tweed, another Linton fabric, which they also call a "pea coat". The price reflects that provenance (£425), but does not really give us a pea coat, now does it?

Boden edge closer to the classic with the Ledbury Pea Coat, tarted up in orange, as well as navy, with vice-versa flashes of those colours under the collar. (Like all the peas I've shown, it is wool with a small percentage of synthetic for wear.) Price, £159.

You can find an all-wool version at L.L. Bean, and it too is offered in some upbeat hues, with various sale pricing to sweeten the pea. At time of writing, their jacket, shown in Molten Red, was $199, with 10% off till today.

In fact, it's hard to find a coat vendor who does not offer a pea coat, because once out of the temperate zones, everyone needs cozy outerwear. I have a shopping list headed "midweight jacket, not black and I really mean it" and by March will be eager to shed the ultra-warm (yep, black) puffer. 

Maybe, just maybe, I could bring in one pea?  


Anonymous said…
Warning, warning...I have ordered and returned two of the jackets you mentioned. I thought my experience might help others (save yourself the frustration)
The jcrew is not cut properly...buttons would need to be moved and a few other alterations, I even sized up, they were returned (the fabric is not that good). The Michael Kors I fell in love with person the fabric is VERY thick, so when the coat buttons (double breasted) it makes you look like you have gained 20 lbs in your stomach area or are pregnant. Back it went, sadly. I hope this helps someone.
Susan B said…
I have the J.Crew and actually love it. It's one of the few options available in Petite. I've also found it to be surprisingly flattering (for outerwear, mind) and it's the perfect coat for LA winters. I'm thinking if that turquoise goes on deep discount at some point I may bite.

BTW, I did order the leopard cardigan, though I suspect the smaller size that was sold out may be the one I need. Will report back.
LauraH said…
Love the colour and range of styles/prices you've found. I too am looking for a spring coat, although leaning more toward something water repellent with a hood. I like the idea of a pea coat but find it difficult to get past the double breasted look - all that fabric and those buttons. Elongated...hmmmm...I'll try to observe some real life examples.
materfamilias said…
Hmmm, I'm really happy with my JCrew pea in navy, and I really like it. Like it enough, in fact, that after pining after the turquoise, wishing I hadn't been so sensible in buying the navy, I ended up ordering a second peacoat, a Turquoise One, at one of the 30% off sales! I did go up a size in both of them, because I want the option of wearing a layer underneath and the style is quite fitted through the waist, but I find it really flattering.
LPC said…
Peacoats are just about my favorite jackets ever. Black, navy, pale blue, camel, I'd wear one in just about any color that suited my skin tones. In a world of limitless budgets, I'd probably own 4-5:). I love the range you've shown here.
materfamilias said…
What? Just came back to read new comments and have another look at your "catalogue" and I see that I commented that "I'm really happy with my [coat] AND I really like it." Okay, I guess I made my point, didn't I? Please excuse my enthusiasm. . . ;-)
Anonymous said…
What an attractive assortment. I've been crazy about peacoats since college, when we all bought them at the army surplus store (along with those wonderful woolen button-front sailor pants.) I love having my neck protected by the big flipped-up collar. In a thrift shop recently I found a peacoat in metallic pewter leather--for $8! Looking forward to wearing it on a chilly, misty Spring day. The color is magic.
Duchesse said…
anon: J. Crew customer reviews mention the buttons often, but more that they pop off.

une femme: You and materfamilias could be turquoise twins!

LPC: Limitless budget- but also limitless storage space.

materfamilias: I could not give closet space to two, plus the requisite puffer- if you can, several coats give you lots of pea pleasure!
Duchesse said…
anon@12:46: Oh that would be ideal, a leather peacoat, given my recent run in with moths. (So far a month has passed with none in sight, fingers crossed.)
Anonymous said…
Love that turquoise pea coat – a zing in the Winter and a great transition to Spring.
How did you get rid of moths? I have a terrible infestation and all my clothes are beginning to look "boro" which I love but I'd prefer to have the option of boro or not boro.
Vancouver Barbara
Duchesse said…
Barbara: First, I deep cleaned, laundering washables (hot water), drycleaning other items, and putting clean nonwashables in the freezer for 3 days to kill any eggs. I removed clothing from closets and cleaned them-especially into corners and floorboards-with a crevice tool on my vacuum (and emptied bag outdoors!)

For the closets, I bought cedar planks and wiped them down with essential cedar oil, taking care to not place them in direct contact with clothes. I also used essential lavender oil on cotton balls, placed in all drawers. The oils do not kill moths or larvae but supposedly are a deterrent; I re-apply those monthly.

I did not buy the pherome traps because the product reviews were so inconclusive.

The cycle is 3 weeks and even after cleaning we saw them intermittently for the first few weeks. We hunted the live ones!

Beth said…
I love that turquoise color, but the only cut here I really like is the Isabelle Hiver. Not the price, though...but what a flattering coat it would be! The buttons are so important to how the coat looks. I haven't had one of these since high school: a fun post!
I love that molten red colour, but have always avoided anything double-breasted, with my boobs. (I had huge ones even when I was young and - otherwise - very slender). L.L.Bean also has a duffel coat in the same material and at least as many colours - I had been thinking of ordering the molten red or the deep plum. Too bad the exchange rate is so dreadful now.

Except for the nightmare of last winter, nowadays there are usually warmer winter days when we can wear something prettier than those horrid (but warm) down puffers. I was waiting for a bus in Ottawa and an elderly lady was going on about how we need two winter coats nowadays.

I'm glad you've had some victories in the war on moths. I'd never dare hang anything woollen in the bedroom closet where the hot water heater lurks (this is of course an old building).
Duchesse said…
lagatta: Bean had a sale which ended yesterday (which effectively erased the exchange rate); I ordered one of the pea coats to try. Returns are done via a Mtl address, and all customs refunds are done by the vendor. There may be another sale after the holidays but the red is s/o.

I actually really like puffers; I have one that is fitted. The problem with many is the ratty fake fur trim. Fake ends up matted and stringy.

Anonymous said…
Thanks for the anti-moth info.
Vancouver Barbara
Eleanorjane said…
Some lovely coats there. I'm a sucker for colour in winter. Can't be doing with 'black, black, black'. I just bought a waterproof thigh length padded coat with a fur trimmed hood in dark purple. I'm quite fond of it and it's really warm!

It's suddenly turned really cold over here, so I'm just thinking about how warm I can be while outside.

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