A cheap pea coat (or pea jacket, pilot jacket) is an outer coat, generally of a navy-colored heavy wool, originally worn by sailors of European navies. Pea coats are characterized by broad lapels, double-breasted fronts, often large wooden or metal buttons, and vertical or slash pockets. Although it first appeared in the early 19th century, modern renditions still maintain the original design and composition.
A “bridge coat” is a pea coat that extends to the thighs, and is a uniform exclusively for officers and Chief Petty Officers. The “reefer” is for officers only, and is identical to the basic design but usually has gold buttons and epaulettes.
Today the style is considered a classic, and pea coats are now worn by all manner of individuals, not just professional sailors. Often worn by a woman, it is often referred to as a Jackie O Jacket. This jacket is very similar, but not the same as a trench coat.
Note that few of the jackets seen on the street are genuine navy surplus; being a classic garment, it is frequently available from retailers, though often with small design changes that reflect the current fashion trends. The standard for historical pea coats was 30 oz. wool, but presently coats are made from 22-32 oz. wool. While cheap pea coats are offered in many colors by retailers, the U.S. Navy-issue pea coat is always dark blue.
The term “pea coat” originated from the Dutch or West Frisian word pijjekker, in which pij referred to the type of cloth used, which was called “Pilot cloth” , a coarse kind of twilled blue cloth with a nap on one side. The cloth was sometimes called P-cloth for the initial letter of the word and the garment made from it was called a p-jacket – later a cheap pea coat wiki youtube