Who is the sexiest Fashion Icon? Jack Nicholson, Art Garfunkel, Sir Paul Macartney, Field Marshal Montgomery, Dr Who or Paddington Bear?

Are you attracted by chief officers in the Royal Navy? Are you drawn to men in buffalo horn toggles? 

Nothing is more timeless and warm than classic boiled wool and that standing on the bridge of a frigate or destroyer in the North Atlantic Look, keeping your flame-retardant, fade-resistant dignity and your head and hands warm in an integrated hood and deep welt pockets while torpedoes head midships.

Gloverall, the Leicester-based British heritage brain, has been making duffel coats since 1956 after overall wholesalers, Harold and Freda Morris, received a large consignment of surplus military service outerwear and, after they sold out in camping shops, turned them into functional, civilian-friendly fashion statements. Toggles are easier for frost-bitten hands to tie than fiddly buttons in extreme, sub-zero weather on the high seas.

The first one was probably made in England in the 1880s by John Partridge, a British purveyor of outerwear.



Duffel coats are now made by everyone from Burberry, Brooks Brothers, CUniqlo, and Reiss to United Colors of Benetton; A full shearling lining Yves Salomon will set you back £3,140 and a re-imagined by Brunello Cicinello £4350.

&Sons offers a sustainable Boardwalk Peacoat with a Modal line. The fabric is made from beech tree pulp which contains 50% more absorbent microfibers than cotton and is more sustainable and eco-friendly. The wool is recycled from old woolen garments that are repurposed and spun into new yarn. SealUp, Givenchy, Cornelliani, and Bruno Cuccinelli all offer peacoats.

Now a coveted chic outerwear label, Gloverall offers super wax heavy-duty cotton, microfiber, and reversible woolen Duffle coats as well as coats and jackets in cotton cambric padded out with goose down, luxury fabrics, pure wool Elysian herringbones, Harris Tweeds, and cashmere mixes.  And a lot of applique racking, and, of course, the signature rope and jute fastenings. 

Premium British fabrics are favored. Tweeds from Abraham Moon, Fox Brothers, and Harris Tweed feature alongside waxed coated cotton by Halley Stevens and boned cotton by British Millerain. Loverall also manufactures all-weather raincoats, sport mid-length car coats, and quilted rally jackets.

Duffle Coat. Photo courtesy of the brand

Original Montgomery is the oldest surviving company chosen in the early 1890s to make the first duffle coats. 

The Royal Navy phased out the duffle coats in 2016 in favor of synthetic parkas. Duffle coats are now more popular with women and children.

The Admiralty frowns on their male personnel wearing them with puffy skirts and lounge jewelry, on duty, anyway. But there’s always the smart and uniformly acceptable unisex peacoat. Which can be worn on all occasions and in all seasons. Not just in the theatre of war and for convoy protection.  

Nothing travels better than a Pijjekker.

The US Navy introduced it into their uniform and it was quickly adopted by ‘reefers who scrambled up the tall rigging of sailing ships in howling winds and rough seas for a living.

The high collars, double-breasted fastening, and mid-length allowed sailors alike to move comfortably around the boat and over icy, slippy decks as they hung on for grim death. Every modern iteration contains these design features.

‘Pij’ refers to the type of coarse, twilled blue cloth, and ‘jekker’ describes a man’s (originally) short, heavy, coat. A longer cut -the ‘Bridge Coat’- was only worn by officers and often had gold buttons. It was thigh-length.

The earliest known mentions of peacoats appeared in an official uniform manual in 1731. The “pea” probably comes from the initial letter of “pilot”. 

The standard US-Navy issue pea coat used dark blue or black. The standard fabric was Kersey wood and then Melton cloth. 

Whether you want to look like Jack and Art in “Carnal Knowledge”, a lovable little bear or 1st Viscount Montgomery of Alamein, or just want to keep warm and chic, duffle coats and pea coats are still current and riding on a high tide of popularity. And high price.

A Thom Brown shearling peacoat comes in a £4300, a Glaswegian Mackintosh £695, and a Burberry £1290.