With popped collar, worn over a button-down denim shirt and paired with jeans and tracking boots, the pea coat outfitted by Robert Redford in Three Days of the Condor has become a symbol of style. He may be the one who has worn it best – despite his undeniable good looks, Redford has never been interested in appearances. That’s where real style is.
The beauty of the pea coat is that you feel well dressed, both literally and figuratively, in it. Isn’t this what a perfect coat is all about? I feel like myself in a pea coat. Isn’t this what any wardrobe item should entail?
A great cut and even greater practicality. It’s what makes a garment an item of style, and a classic. And, what is most important in the cold, a dependable piece of outerwear. It’s not only timeless in style and easy to wear, but the cosseting detailing – heavy wool fabric and double-breasted fastening for warmth, extra-tall collar and broad lapels to protect against wind – makes the pea coat ideal for fending off the bitter cold (after all, it’s a jacket with heritage, originally worn by sailors). A style staple for men and women alike. Here are a few true tastemakers who have worn it best. As always, men make the cut much easier than women. It’s them we should thank for transforming the pea coat into a cult item.
James Dean only favoured the most practical, minimalist clothing. The pea coat was one of them, along with the blue jeans, white t-shirt and windbreaker jacket – he gave an identity to an entire generation, his influence still looming large on popular culture.
Embodying the countercultural rebel, Bob Dylan looks moody in his coat sported with beaten stonewashed jeans.
Mr. Giorgio Armani knows best that simplicity goes a long way. Here, in a navy (of course) pea coat redefined (no lapeled collar), but featuring traditional anchor-stamped buttons, looking as comfortable in it as in one of his signature, indispensable, plain t-shirts.
Contrasts are a key element to timeless style. The classic, masculine pea coat is the perfect match for a feminine piece. Ali MacGraw is the best example in Love Story.
Emmanuelle Akt has proven over and over again that she knows best how to give classic a modern spin.
photos: 1-screen still, Three Days of the Condor (Wildwood Enterprises) / 2-Dennis Stock, 1955 / 3-via Esquire.co.uk / 4-The Sartorialist / 5-screen still, Love Story ( Paramount Pictures) / 6-A Love Is Blind (I think)