Pea Coat vs Trench Coat: Which One is right for You?

Last updated: February 13, 2022

A pea coat is a type of coat that was originally designed for sailors. They have been popularized as the outerwear of choice for those in the armed forces, and are often seen as part of a uniform for officers.

A trench coat is similar to a pea coat but without the belt at the waist. Trench coats are generally longer than pea coats and are often associated with rain gear because they are water-repellent.
The differences are subtle but significant enough that we’ve made a table comparing some key features.

Pea CoatTrench Coat
Shorter and works better with stocky buildsLonger and works better with slim / tall builds
Mostly protects against snow – warmer (wool)Works great in windy / rainy weather
Much easier to work into your wardrobeHard to pull off – too long and you look like Neo from the matrix
Commonly in a navy colorCommonly in a khaki color

What You Should Know Before Buying Your Pea Coat or Trench Coat

When it comes to buying a coat, there are a lot of things you should know before you make a final decision.

Traditionally trench coats have gone below the knee and while this military garment was initially intended for rain wear, it is now just as common for men to wear them while in business or formal dress.

If you opt to buy a trench coat make sure you get one with a zip-out insulated lining. You’re most likely only going to wear it when it’s raining outside, which makes having insulation great during colder rainy days and also giving you the option of removing the lining on a summer rainy day.

A pea coat isn’t a hugely practical choice depending on the time of year it’s worn. It’ll be suitable for temps where you might need a coat but want to wear something more fashionable.

If you do decide to buy a pea coat, make sure it’s appropriate for your location and weather and only wear it during the early spring and late fall, not on the coldest winter days.

What do you wear with a pea coat?

Pea coats are meant to go over a sweater or shirt (formal dress shirts usually) and keep you warm. Pea coats are typically made from a wool or wool-dominant blend to better isolate the body and keep warmth in, which means you don’t need to layer a ton of clothing underneath.

What do you wear with a trench coat?

Trench coats are perfect to wear over your suit, which is why it’s important to buy a coat that has enough space for that. It’s very rare and almost never acceptable to wear a trench coat over non-formal clothing. It works best with a formal outfit like a suit and that’s the main thing you should keep in consideration when buying one.

Should I buy a pea coat or a trench coat?

So we’ve laid out all of the facts on the pea coat and trench coat, and it’s now time to make a decision on which one is more suitable for you. To summarize, if you’re built more on the stocky and shorter end, a pea coat is definitley what you should be looking at – even more so if you live in a climate that calls for a heavy wool coat.

If you’re on the slimmer and lengthier end of the spectrum you definitley want to try on a few trench coats and see how they look on you. Since these kind of coats are more suited towards a business or formal event type of enviorment, don’t buy one if that’s not a part of your lifestyle.