The coats worn by the armed forces are an integral part of military uniforms and contemporary fashion--from the navy pea coat to army fatigues. Civilians wearing army outerwear is a trend that started in the 1920s, right after World War I. Back then, the trench coat was adapted to be worn by both men and women. Today, there are several military coats variations tailored toward both sexes.
A coat with naval roots, the pea coat was originally part of the longshoreman uniform in the American and European navies. The double-breasted blue coat was made from heavy woollen fabric called Melton Cloth, and secured with six buttons. The silhouette hasn't changed much in men's wear, as designers still offer a similar version in newer fabrics. In women's wear, a slightly more form-fitting version of the pea coat is often called the "Jackie O" coat, as it was made popular by Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis.
The British trench coat, as it is known today, was invented by Burberry in 1901 and submitted to the military as part of an officer's uniform. The original design was fabricated out of heavyweight cotton fabric or leather. Knee-length and belted, the classic trench was a double-breasted coat with a large collar that stood erect to protect the neck from the elements. Today, there many style variations--from a 3/4-length cropped jacket to a full flounce feminine coat.
An officer's coat was recognisable by its stiff mandarin collar and its snug tailored design. The long wool coat was traditionally double-breasted, with shiny metallic buttons going down the front. The coat was tailored at the waist and fell in an A-line away from the body. Other features included buttoned tabs on the shoulder, and a vent or slit in the back of the coat, from the hem to waist-level. Like the trench coat, the officer's coat has been tweaked and reinvented over the years to suit both men and women.
The army coat was one of the more casual military coats, as it had a baggy fit and four large, tabbed pockets on the front. The outerwear was normally fashioned out of waterproof, wrinkle-resistant heavy-duty cotton and trimmed with military patches. Army coats with drawstring waistbands have popped up in women's wear, in both rugged cotton and more delicate silken fabrics. The design is also still popular in men's wear, either close to its true vintage form or embellished with designer logos and trims.
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- "New York Times": In Paris, Sensuality Saves the Day; Cathy Horyn; June 29, 2011
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