Pea coats are cold-weather naval-issue garments. They were originally made using thick, coarse pilot cloth. This is the origin of the name of the coat. Pilot cloth became abbreviated to "P-cloth" and from there the coats themselves became known as "pea coats." Pea coats have become an enduring fashion item and many fashion clothing manufacturers have created coats based on the regulation pea coat design. If you want an authentic US Navy pea coat, there are certain things you should look for to assure yourself of a coat's authenticity.
Search for an authentic pea coat at a military surplus store. Fashion outlets are unlikely to carry authentic military supplied pea coats.
Check that the coat is double-breasted. Official navy pea coats are double-breasted to ensure warmth.
Look closely at the buttons. There should be six visible buttons and all should carry an anchor design on the front.
Check that the material used is 32 oz. Melton wool. Fashion replicas may use different fabrics to get a less coarse look than the authentic US Navy pea coat. Outside pocket openings should be a vertical slash, both left and right.
Ensure that the lining of the coat is quilted and that there is an inside pocket.
Look for a label proclaiming the coat to be an official US Navy coat. If you find such a label, you can rest assured that the coat is authentic military issue.
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Peter Lancett has been writing professionally for 10 years. He has five novels and a series of award-winning illustrated books currently distributed internationally. Lancett writes for film and television alongside his work for Demand Studios. He has traveled extensively and has lived in England and New Zealand.
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