Could the peacoat be the most versatile piece of outerwear a man can own? We think so. At once rugged and refined, these double-breasted duds perfectly border the line between formal and casual — working as well with your working day suit as they do with your weekend jeans.
And the versatility of the design is no coincidence. Rather, like many of today’s most iconic garments, the endlessly practical peacoat has military origins — and was adopted by European and American armed forced during the early 20th century. Naval officers, especially, favoured the peacoat — rating its tough, weather-beating qualities as well as its smart silhouette.
But we’re not the only fans of the peacoat. Far from it. Style icons around the world — from Robert Redford to Serge Gainsbourg — have slipped on and buttoned up this inimitable style in the past. So, below, we’ve taken inspiration from five famous peacoat wearers, and rounded up the best to buy today.
Serge Gainsbourg opted for a softer peacoat
Few people mastered the art of ‘insouciance’ like French songwriter and filmmaker Serge Gainsbourg. The peacoat, then — with its effortless elegance and heavy-duty hallmarks, was the perfect garment for him. And Gainsbourg looked good in his peacoat, seen above wearing it on the wet and windy set of television show To the four winds of the wide.
Yet, for all its ruggedness, Gainsbourg’s peacoat had a softer handle than many of the rough twill offerings. To that end, if you’re looking to take inspiration from the Frenchman, we’d recommend a soft wool-blend take on the style — such as the below from Ralph Lauren, complete with buttoned epaulettes and clean, folded cuffs.
Fullerton Wool-Cashmere Peacoat
Robert Redford went for a large-collared peacoat
Redford needs no introduction. He’s Jay Gatsby, Bob Woodward, the Sundance Kid. But he’s also a keen proponent of the peacoat. In the 1975 political thriller Three Days of the Condor, Redford’s protagonist wears a peacoat for the ages — vast of collar and with more buttons than a remote control. It’s become an enduring image; especially the scenes in which he also slips on a pair of large mirrored aviator sunglasses.
And the flicked collar speaks to the original benefits of the peacoat design, when naval officers would use their coats as a shield from wild ocean spray. So, while you probably won’t be hunkering down for any turbulent sea crossings anytime soon, Redford’s style is ideal for copying — and modern peacoat collars rarely come bigger than Burberry’s classically-cut, signature check-lined design.
Wool Blend Pea Coat
Bob Dylan rocked a lightweight peacoat
Bob Dylan is another icon who needs no introduction. The folk-rock singer-songwriter has maintained the same, signature look for over half a decade — and the peacoat above is a key part of his ‘everyman’ ensemble. Like Springsteen adopted blue-collar denim, Dylan looked to the military influence of the peacoat to epitomise his casual, carefree sense of fashion.
But, as you can see in the picture above, Dylan’s chosen peacoat didn’t have the hefty handle of Gainsbourg’s, or the colossal collar of Redford’s. Instead, it was thinner and more lightweight — a transitional type of peacoat that would see the musician from winter to spring in style. If that sounds good to you, we can think of few better options than Paige’s ‘Ossie’ peacoat — crafted for freedom of movement.
Paige Ossie stretch-woven pea coat
Daniel Craig slipped into a slimmer-fit peacoat
For reasons unknown, the peacoat has always found itself entwined in the world of espionage. Spooks never shied away from a peacoat. Multiple iterations of Jack Ryan have buttoned one up. Chris Pine donned one in spy thriller All the Old Knives. But perhaps the most famous spy to wear a peacoat is Daniel Craig’s 007, who slipped into one for 2012’s Skyfall.
Of course, Bond was a Royal Naval Reserve Commander himself — so the peacoat fits. In this case, it really fits; with a tighter cut than most designs. And, if you want to invest in a similarly slim peacoat, you can buy the exact one Craig’s 007 wears. From Billy Reid, the ‘Bond’ peacoat — named for the street, not the spy — is made in Italy from a durable and warm melton wool, and trimmed with luxurious calfskin.
Gregory Peck wore a rugged, practical peacoat
And, finally, to Gregory Peck. The Hollywood great was famously fastidious when it came to fashion — travelling to Savile Row to have several bespoke suits tailor-made for him at Huntsman. He was even involved with the costume creation for many of his characters — asking Huntsman to make his suits for Cape Fear, The Omen and many other films. Above, he wears a peacoat in the 1961 epic war adventure The Guns of Navarone.
And it is here than the peacoat really shines — not only draped on the broad shoulders of an acting legend, but in the thick of the action. Peck’s Captain Keith Mallory wears a peacoat not unlike the below from Rubinacci; crafted with many practical pockets, a tighter double-breasted design and buttoned cuffs. This manoeuvrability ensured he could take down Germans; and look good doing it.
Green Herringbone Wool Peacoat
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