Pea coats have been around for hundreds of years. They have stood the test of time, outlasting countless fads and fashions. Today, they are a staple of men’s and women’s wardrobe. Without any doubt, the pea coat is a stylish jacket that can be worn throughout several seasons and can be matched with anything from casual night out to office attire.
Because of their popularity, these coats can be found in a variety of colors, styles and even with hoods! No more are they only available in their standard navy color.
But what if you are a traditionalist and want an authentic regulation pea coat? Where would you find one and how do you know if it is the real thing?
First, to find a real pea coat, you aren’t going to find one in a regular department store. Chances are those jackets are designer and some liberties have been made to its style. Your best bet is to visit your local Army/Navy surplus store or the local thrift stop. Since these coats are durable, they last generations.
Secondly, and probably the most important clue, make sure the coat is navy blue! US Navy color “Blue 3346” is a dark navy blue and is sometimes confused for black. Check that the coat is double breasted with wide lapels. Next look at the buttons, this is key. There should be six buttons and all should have an anchor design on the front. No anchors on the buttons are a clear sign this isn’t regulation. The pockets on the outside should be vertical slashes.
Check to assure the material used in the coat is 32 oz. Melton wool. Designers use different fabrics in modern jackets to change the texture or the weight of their coats. Lining inside the coat should be quilted. Lastly, look for a label stating the jacket is an office United States Navy coat. If you find the label and the design of the coat is exact, you have found an authentic Navy Pea Coat. If you find a black label with yellow writing, the coat was made pre-1965. Coats from the World War II era have a label stating “Manufactured by Navy Clothing Factory” and feature anchor images in the corners. For additional authenticity, you may find on the bottom edge of the coat, the last name and last four digits of their Social Security Number. These markings are required by the Navy.
With some searching and careful inspection, your odds of finding a real pea coat are good! Happy searching!