I read somewhere once that the pea coat’s brilliance comes from being engineered rather than designed. That, to me, seems an apt description. Long enough to cover the torso and rear, yet short enough for movement while casting about a ship’s deck in the North Atlantic, the pea coat is a perfect intersection of fit, warmth and durability.
The Gentleman’s Gazette has a particularly excellent account of the pea coat’s history, outlining the various and competing origin stories. Suffice it to say, the pea coat has been around for upwards of two centuries, its form and function largely unchanged.
For more than four decades, Sterlingwear of Boston has been supplying pea coats for the U.S. Navy. Their civilian offerings are made to the same exacting specifications. According to the company’s website, it employs more than 250 union workers in New England.
My son’s winter outerwear of choice is Sterlingwear’s Navigator Pea Coat. Made of a sturdy 24 ounce melton wool, the coat is available in three colors; his is the classic black. While he doesn’t have to endure brutal New England winters, his coat is an effective bulwark against the blue northers that come barreling down the plains into North Texas.