Peacoat or Overcoat and some other follow-on questions.

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    I recently moved to the Northern Virginia area and am dealing with the prospect of a cold winter for the first time in my life (grew up in Florida.) I’m looking for a coat that I could wear both casually on the weekends and at work.

    In case it’s important I’m 6 foot even and around 235 lbs (I factor myself into the “works out but likes pasta” category.) I work in an office that is usually business casual: shirt, slacks and a tie with an occasional full suit for an important meeting.

    What do you all think? Should I look for a peacoat or an overcoat (or both?) What color would offer the most versatility? Are there any go to stores or brands that you all would recommend? How does sizing work and can/should I get it tailored? Would one of these coats be enough for winter weather or do I need to look into other jackets for this “layering” thing I keep hearing about (I seriously have never wintered before.)



    What’s your price range?

    I think overcoat works better given your need to dress in a business-casual / formal way. Grey, charcoal, and navy color are your best bets.

    December and January gets kinda cold in VA so I would invest in a nice sweater/cardigan that you can also wear in the office. Ideally wool or cashmere.

    Coats can be tailored though this might be expensive so keep that in mind when trying them on.

    Check out item suggestions here for list of brands / items at various price points:



    *Should I look for a peacoat or an overcoat (or both?)*

    I have a peacoat, a single-breasted overcoat, and a double-breasted overcoat. The peacoat is versatile, though if you constantly wear a suit under it, I’d go with an overcoat. You might need to wear a scarf if you wear a single-breasted overcoat, as it can leave your chest exposed. Easier to bundle up with a double-breasted overcoat.

    *What color would offer the most versatility?*

    Navy is always versatile and it’s the traditional color for a peacoat. A charcoal or gray overcoat is very versatile as well. Camel is surprisingly versatile, and tends to pop more.

    *Are there any go to stores or brands that you all would recommend?*

    The three I have are from J. Crew and Todd Snyder. Happy with all of them, and got each during an aggressive 40% off sale.

    *How does sizing work and can/should I get it tailored?*

    Both J. Crew and Todd Snyder are cut slimmer. Or at least they were, when I got them a few years ago, before the 90s influence brought back a little bagginess. As a larger dude, you might want to go with Brooks Brothers. You can get it tailored, but honestly I think it’d be more worth your while to get something that fits off the rack.

    Shoulders should fit, but not too snugly (ie Not the way a suit jacket should fit) since you’ll want a little bit of room for layering.

    *Would one of these coats be enough for winter weather or do I need to look into other jackets for this “layering” thing I keep hearing about (I seriously have never wintered before.)*

    Kinda depends on what you’ll be doing. If you are on a daily basis standing outside in a blizzard for hours, you might want something more robust. If you’re mostly hopping from your car to your office, a peacoat/overcoat should be fine getting you across the parking lot. You can always toss on a sweater underneath. On really cold days, I add a puffy vest on top of the sweater.



    Imo, peacoat is better for casual wear because you can pair it with jeans/chino and simple shirt. Overcoat is a bit step up in formality and usually pair with suit.



    Northern Virginia is pretty mild as winters go. Assuming you acclimatize like most people, a pea coat or overcoat will be enough for the weather. If you’re only going to get one, based on what you said (i.e. work where you occasionally wear suits), I’d suggest an overcoat. A pea coat doesn’t look great with suits because it may be shorter than the suit (the standard rule is that the outer layer should be longest in the body). Additionally, the length of the pea coat along with the added bulk of a suit blazer will tend to make you look wider up top. Combine it with thin suit pants and dress shoes and your legs will look very thin by comparison.

    If it fits into your budget I’d recommend both. You can wear the pea coat for casual down time and more casual work days. I’d recommend 100% wool or as close as you can get to it for both. Bad wool is very itchy so keep that in mind. Navy and grey are both very versatile colors. But if you wear a lot of black the navy might not work as well.

    Sizing. The shoulder padding should end at your anatomical shoulder and not go past. EDIT: If you look online a lot of suit guides will use the shoulder blade as the reference point of the anatomical shoulder. That’s only true if you’re thin. If you’re muscular or have some fat your suit should not be sized based on the shoulder blade, but on the widest point of the shoulder. Don’t size up; buy your regular suit size. Coats meant to fit over suits and coats meant for use without them will fit differently. Generally overcoats are the former and pea coats are the latter. I’d recommend against major alterations for a coat. Fabric that thick is hard to work with, making alterations more expensive and increasing the chances of the tailor making a mistake. But do get sleeves shortened if they go past the first knuckle of your thumb.



    Overcoats pair better with suits or blazers, but would typically fit a little differently so they could actually fit over those jackets. If your overcoat fits well over a suit jacket, it probably won’t fit very well when you’re not wearing a jacket. A peacoat is “casual,” but smarter casual — it looks perfectly good over a dress shirt.

    Side note: don’t wear a tie without a jacket.



    A recommendation, in case you go the peacoat route: buy used.

    Search on eBay or Grailed for “Men’s Authentic Vintage US Navy Peacoat” or something similar. I snagged one made the year I was born (in the 70s) and the fit and weight are spectacular. I’m a 38L, and the fit around the shoulders, and the way it drapes across the body, stand out dramatically. And I bought the thing for $70. It blows away any Banana Republic or JCrew jacket I’ve ever owned. The coat is *thick*. It was legitimately made to help sailors withstand the cold, the wind, and the rain. And they come in suit sizing–the original tailoring on mine is wonderful.



    an overcoat would work well. If you’re able to buy one that fits well without spending too much on a fitted one. They’re too damn sexy, and fits well with both formal and casual wear. They’re very versatile. I’ll wear them with a blazer or suit in office and sweater for more casual wear as well. Personally I’m not a huge fan of peacoats.



    I’ll throw out a compromise suggestion: a wool car coat. Here’s why. It will be long enough to cover your suit jacket on the days you wear one and (mostly) has the clean lines of a topcoat, so pairing it with a suit looks fine. But it also has the versatility of a peacoat in that I think it looks better with business casual or even casual clothes for your normal workday and nights out. The length will also help keep you warmer. Navy and charcoal are the safe color choices.

    I think you should also get a casual coat/jacket that fits your style. Search this thread for recommendations on whatever that is (bomber, M-65, chore coat, etc).

    Lastly, a lightweight down vest or jacket that you can wear under either the car coat or the casual jacket when the temperatures are very low (or by itself). These three pieces will cover you in virtually all scenarios. After a couple winters, reassess and go from there.

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