So far, I’ve taught you what a peacoat is and how you can rock the look. Now, seeing that autumn/fall is once again upon us, I thought I’d take a look at how to wear a peacoat in bit more detail.

Follow these steps and you’ll find yourself wearing the perfect fitting pea-coat in no time:

The four steps to wearing a peacoat

Step One: Layering
A pea coat is an outer layer, so always treat it as such. The only elements that should ever feature over a pea coat are accessories, and even these can be obtrusive at times. Try tucking any extras, such as scarves, beneath the jacket to maintain the clean line.

Step Two: Length
Your peacoat should ‘hit’ at the bottom of the hips and, ideally, caress your rear. The only real exception to this is the naval jacket, which should end slightly lower. If your pea coat is too long, the figure-defining shape will be lost – too short and you’ll appear as if you’ve gained forty pound over night!

Step Three: Buttoning
There are two important factors when it comes to peacoats and buttons. Firstly, it’s important you keep the jacket sealed if you want that iconic look: remember, these jackets were traditionally worn on the high-seas not the high-street; they’re built to be buttoned.

Secondly, the buttons are the secret to a great shape. The rows should be spaced evenly down the length of the torso and trunk. This creates the classic cinching effect that looks so good on thinner men; larger, rotund men will have a problem creating this corseted look, so should avoid the peacoat all-together – there are plenty of three-quarter length jackets that’ll suit you much better!

Step Four: Sizing
A baggy peacoat is a whale-blanket – in other words, wearing an incorrectly sized peacoat will make you seem ten times larger than you actually are! You want the smallest size you can possibly get away with. Always try on the jacket in-store – you may find a ‘small’ fits much better on your ‘medium’ frame or vice versa.

How to wear a peacoat: The Wrong Way!

how not to wear a peacoat

Notice how our man here refuses to follow the rules and suffers for it! Firstly, the jacket is too big and puffy; look at all the fabric piling underneath the armpits – this is simply the wrong size jacket for the model.

Secondly, those buttons are everywhere – they aren’t pulling or aligning the jacket at all and seeing that it’s the wrong size, the bottom row of buttons are neither use nor ornament.

Lastly, whilst you can see the garment is a pea coat, it’s being used by the model as a makeshift naval jacket. A pea coat should end at the top of the groin, not the mid thighs. It’s far too long and inelegant to be worn in this way.

How to wear a peacoat: The Right Way!

how to wear a peacoat correctly

You should notice the differences instantly.

To begin with, the pea coat ends at the correct length. Secondly, the buttons are pulling and tightening around the midriff – look at that chic hourglass silhouette it’s created. Finally, see how there’s not an extra pound of fabric around the model: if you look closely, you can see how there’s light creasing around the biceps attesting to the good fit.

All images are respective of their copyright holders. Please feel free to contact me if you wish to have them removed from the website.

About The Author

Johnathan Bell is the founder, owner and main author of Guy Style Guide, a website dedicated to everyday male fashion, style and grooming. The primary mission? To guide clueless men through the tricky mindfield that is the growing world of male couture. Find him on , Twitter and Tumblr.

26 Responses

  1. LO

    What kind of peacoat is pictured in first pic? I love the collars on it!!

    • Wellz

      yea the first pic with the really cool peacoat….the collar looks amzing what brand is it???

  2. tim

    Excellent guide to wearing a pea coat was worried mine was to small
    but tailored thanks

  3. Cal

    was wondering if you know the brand of the very first pea coat at the top??? looks great!

  4. peter

    WOW….everyone is askin about the one that the author claimed was “the wrong way” … I say the armpits thing is awful; it should really get the curve there otherwise don’t buy it!

    • Johnathan

      Just to clarify peter – the commenters are (hopefully) referring to the image advertising my pea coat e-book; this was removed during maintenance in the November 2011 update!

      Thanks for the comment though!

  5. Michael

    When you say “Naval Jacket,” does this mean a peacoat made for military use, such as a surplus one, or is it a different style of jacket?

    • Johnathan

      Hi Michael,

      This extract from my pea coat e-book should help to clarify things for you:

      “A ‘bridge coat’ [a.k.a Naval Jacket] extends all the way down past the thighs and was worn primarily in the Navy by Chief Petty Officers. By contrast the shorter ‘reefer’ [a.k.a Pea Coat] features golden buttons and epaulettes, and is worn exclusively by officers.”

  6. Colin

    Jonathan,
    While I agree with much of the article I have to point out that the length guideline is a bit off. I am active duty USN and our official issue peacoats are a bit longer than “top of the groin” and/or “caress the buttocks” guidelines you list. Even if I go 1 size small and “short” length, the jacket would still extend a few inches lower than you describe.
    While I am sure several manufacturers cut them shorter, I would have to say the USN cut is more “official” as the source of the style.

    • Johnathan

      Thanks for the info, Colin.

      There are so many differing cuts of peacoat out there, which for some men is part of the problem. As you mention, formal and regimental pea coats are worn to an ‘official issue length’ which tends to extend a little lower down the body. My guidelines are more for ‘fashion’ pea coats; however, much like anything else in the style world, the ‘rules’ are always changing…

  7. Odysseus

    I agree with Colin. In fact, looking at the example you give as “The Right Way!” to wear a peacoat, I’d go as far as to suggest that your site would be more appropriately named “Gaystyleguide.com”. A bow-tie with a peacoat?! Get real guys…

    • Johnathan

      Hi Odysseus,

      The homophobia somewhat detracts from your point, and I dare say you haven’t taken time to read the article nor my response to Colin.

      As I have reiterated on numerous occasions, all imagery is purely illustrative; it’s also worth noting the article is concerned with the correct way to wear a peacoat, not a bow-tie with a peacoat.

  8. max

    I was wondering what the best way to button the peacoat is. It’s hard to tell in the 2nd picture, but it looks like only the middle button is fastened. Are there any “rules” to buttoning as there tend to be with suits (where bottom button is pretty much a no-no).

    Should the jigger (inside button) always be fastened?

    I’ve got a 6-button double breasted peacoat.

    Thanks!

  9. sam

    Ive often read that pea coats (or double-breasted items in general) shouldnt be worn by more chunky guys, could someone help me by being more specific? I mean, is there a certain chest measurement over which pea coats shouldnt be worn? Ive tried pea coats on and i quite like them.

    Im 175cm with quite broad shoulders (not huge) and an average belly. I have always had trouble buying t-shirts, shirts and jackets off the shelf because they dont fit around the shoulders, but if i go a size up the sleeve length is too long.

    Thanks for any help.

  10. Nick

    I bought a pea coat from Forever 21 two days ago and it looks very similar to the one in the frost pic.

  11. Joe

    Hi Jonathan, I just recently bought a Burberry pea coat which I like alot. My question too u is, how tight is too tight, I brought it home and it feels fitted, but I’m wondering if it’s suppose to be tight on top. For example, when I act like if I was to give a hug to someone, it constricts, like if I were to hug someone, it starts to constrict under the arm pits. Is it too tight?? I need some advice?

  12. Todd

    Hello, and thanks for these guidelines. Was wondering if you had any input/guidelines regarding the size vs. comfort aspect of the coat. I have broad shoulders/big chest, so I tried an XL which is comfortable, but the sleeves are too long (which I can have a tailor fix that problem). But wife said it just looks too baggy. But when I tried the L, which looks snug and nicer according to the wife–but I have this habit of “testing” comfort by crossing arms/lifting arms above my head and…it sometimes feel I’m going to rip the back of the jacket. What’s your take on this? Thanks for your time.

  13. Dan

    Great stuff. Here’s a new question. Is it OK to wear a Peacoat over a sport or suit jacket?