A type of outer coat, generally made heavy wool. Pea coats are characterized by short length, broad lapels, double-breasted fronts, often large wooden, metal or plastic buttons, three or four in two rows, and vertical or slash pockets. References to the pea jacket appear in American newspapers at least as early as the 1720s, and modern renditions still maintain the original design and composition.
It was originally worn (navy blue colour) by sailors of European and later American navies. A pea coat that extends to the thighs is called "bridge coat", and is a uniform exclusively for officers and military chief petty officers. Only officers wear ones with epaulettes.
The term "pea coat" originated from the Dutch or West Frisian word pijjekker or pijjakker, in which pij referred to the type of cloth used, a coarse kind of twilled blue cloth with a nap on one side. Jakker designates a man’s short, heavy coat.
Another theory, favoured by the US Navy, is that the heavy topcoat worn in cold, miserable weather by seafaring men was once tailored from "pilot cloth". A heavy, coarse, stout kind of twilled blue cloth with the nap on one side. This was sometimes called P-cloth from the initial letter of pilot, and the garment made from it was called a P-jacket, later a pea coat. The term has been used since 1723 to denote coats made from that cloth.