Coats & Jackets

How a pea coat should fit

How a pea coat should fit

Photographed:  MVP wool blend pea coat (£100); MVP Clapton straight fit jeans (£40); Ben Sherman jumper (£70); Clarks suede desert boots (£95)

Every coat is the right coat, in the right environment. Waterproofs are a godsend when there aren’t coffee shops to hand, should the heavens open. A ski jacket is great up a mountain. But even despite how unpredictable British weather can be, it’s never so hard to read that, in autumn, you need a coat that could survive a blizzard.

In fact, right now you probably need something that works across a few different environments: smart enough for work but casual enough for the weekend; hardy enough for rain, but breathable enough for sunshine. Meet the pea coat. Granted, it doesn't have a hood that rolls up into a zippered pouch. But it's been keeping sailors protected for over a century. Which is good enough for us.

The pea coat is also more flattering than anything neon and duvet-shaped. "It's just important to get the fit and length right," says Thread stylist Freddie Kemp. “If it's too long, it can drown you. If it’s too short, it throws off your proportions. With a couple of simple, thin layers underneath, the chunky finish of the coat will flatter all shapes.”

Here’s how to know when it fits just right.

Shoulders

"A pea coat should be relatively fitted across the shoulders,” says Freddie. “As with most military-inspired garments, the shoulder line should look clean and neat – no pulling at your upper arm. You want enough room for a couple of layers, but the seams shouldn't hang off the shoulders and it shouldn't feel baggy.”

Neckline

“The collar should sit close to your neck, or else you’ll get that horrible back-of-the-neck draught. But this is probably the area of least concern, so if it fits like a glove elsewhere you’ll be good to go.”

Sleeves

“I tend to find the sweet spot is about an inch over the wrist. This can come down to preference, but ideally, you want to cover the layers underneath. As for the width of the sleeves, try the coat on top of a couple of layers. You want to ensure it's not too snug and you are still able to fold your arms comfortably.”

Body

“As with fastening any jacket, you don't want too much tension on the buttons. A good test is you should be able to get two fingers placed sideways on your sternum, between your body and the coat. This will leave enough room for comfort, but still have the fitted style as intended. Be sure to keep the bottom button undone. Not only is it tradition, but it also helps the coat hang better.”

Length

“Pea coats are slightly different from other styles when it comes to length. You don't want it to sit as short as, say, a Harrington, but also you don't want it long like an overcoat. A couple of inches below the hip is a good place to start. Anywhere from there down to the bottom of your pockets works. You want to make sure your knit or shirt remains well covered.”

 
Words: Theresa Harold
Photography: Jon Cardwell
Styling: Brooke Philips