The Story of the Peacoat

September 09 2016, 0 Comments

It’s September. And as summer draws its final breath, splutters the last of its warming rays, and beds down for six long months, it’s hard not to be gripped by a sense of impending doom and gloom. No more beer gardens. No more sun-kissed picnics. And for sure, no more t-shirt weather.

"Autumn and winter mean open fires when you’re inside, and a good coat when you have to head out...."

But, if you can stifle the cry of your inner Ned Stark for just a minute, you’ll remember that autumn and winter aren’t seasons of suffering the cold, they’re the seasons of being cosy despite it. Seasons where you take on the elements and win, where you defy the icy will of nature. Autumn and winter mean open fires when you’re inside, and a good coat when you have to head out.

The six survivors of the U.S. Army's Greely Arctic expedition with their U.S. Navy rescuers, sporting an early incarnation of the Peacoat.

And there’s few coats that can boast as illustrious a history of element-battling prowess as the peacoat. There’s none that are also considered an absolute style classic. Bridging that almighty gap between function and form spectacularly, the peacoat is a stalwart of menswear that still looks fresh tying together an outfit from today’s wardrobe.

" Bridging that almighty gap between function and form spectacularly, the peacoat is a stalwart of menswear..."

The exact origins of the peacoat are a little hazy, with several contradicting accounts making the rounds. The most common of which comes from the Oxford Dictionary, which dates the peacoat to the turn of the 18th century, suggesting that the name was probably derived from Pijjekker, a Dutch word describing a jacket, or ‘jekker’, made from a heavy, twilled blue cloth, or ‘pij’ (pronounced with a silent ‘j’, like pea).

The US Navy, however, claim the coat got its name from a jacket made of thick pilot cloth, originally called the pilot coat but shortened to p-coat, or peacoat when written. Similarly, an article reporting a loose double breasted jacket with three pairs of buttons being worn by The Prince of Wales in the mid 19th century, referred to a ‘Prince of Wales P-Jacket’, widely thought to be a reference to the same pilot fabric.

Despite a some-what fuzzy etymological background, the peacoat’s roots as naval and military uniform are widely known. The thick material made it perfect for heavy duty work in rough weather, a form fitting silhouette worked to keep out the worst of the wind, and a slight flair at the bottom of the jacket gave the sailors and officers freer movement if and when they needed to shimmy up the boat’s rigging.

"Adorned by everymen and style icons alike..."

Having the field-tested practicality of military wear combined with interesting and iconic sartorial touches meant the peacoat was quick to become a firm favourite of civilians too. Adorned by everymen and style icons alike, its unmistakably macho silhouette has had no problem getting into wardrobes for centuries and surely has a place in them for centuries to come.

Illustrator Ben Newman wears the Harry Stedman Peacoat with our Grey Marl 50s Sweater and 16.5 oz Kulsan Jean 

For our take on this classic, we’ve aimed to produce a truly outstanding salute to the peacoat’s history. Handmade in East London by legendary outerwear producers, Grenfell, the coat is made from %100 Melton Wool, weighing in at a reassuringly cosy 835 gsm2 (grams per square metre). This is lined with a vintage Japanese striped cotton, with contrasting yellow bound inside seams, providing a splash of colour and class to the garment.


Grey Fox Blog wears the Harry Stedman Peacoat with our White Oxford 50s Button Down and our Beige Japanese Twill Chinos

In keeping with the garment’s style, we opted for three jet pockets, one on the inside and two outer. Finally, we chose eight chunky buffalo horn buttons to make up the iconic double breasting.

If you’re interested in finding out more about our peacoat, including sizing and shipping information, take a look here.

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