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Peacoat Vs Trench Coat: What Is the Difference?

Peacoats and trench coats were both originally men’s style staples that have origins in the military. Now, they are just as popular in women’s fashion as well, particularly when cooler temperatures roll around. But what is the difference between a peacoat vs. trench coat?

There are a lot of differences between the two. Peacoats are shorter and usually made of wool, while trench coats are longer and usually made of heavy-duty and waterproof material. Other style features can help you distinguish between the two as well.

So which one should you choose? Before deciding, it’s important to look at each type of coat in more detail so that you can make a well-informed decision. In this article, I’ll explain each type of coat in more detail, covering both the physical characteristics and style factors of each.

Peacoat Vs Trench Coat

Peacoat vs. Trench Coat: Key Differences

When choosing a coat, we want to choose one that will both protect us from the elements and look stylish. There are certain characteristics that we want to consider. Knowing more about these characteristics can help make the decision easier. That’s why I’ve created this chart that compares the key differences between a peacoat and a trench coat.

 PeacoatTrench Coat
DesignDouble-breasted, 6 buttons, large collar, stylishDouble-breasted, 10 buttons, large collar, practical
FabricWool or wool/synthetic fiber blendHeavy duty cotton or gabardine, polyester
WarmthWarmer than a trench coat, better for winter/snowNot as warm, better for rainy or windy days
LengthHits at the hips to mid-thighHits at the knees or below
FittingTapered fit, more shape-definingLooser fit to accommodate bulky clothes/layers
ColorTraditionally navy, but come in other colors as wellTraditionally khaki, but come in other colors as well
BeltNoYes
Water ResistanceHighVery High
CostDepends on the fabric and designerDepends on the fabric and designer
CareDry-clean or hand wash, lay flat to dryHand wash or wash on gentle cycle, lay flat to dry, wash lining separately
When to WearCasual and formal occasions in late fall, winter, and early springCasual and formal occasions in fall and spring, mild winters
When Not to WearSummerSummer and cold winters

What Is a Peacoat?

peacoat or trench coatThere are varying stories about where and when peacoats were first worn, but the consensus is that they were traditionally worn by navy sailors. That’s why the original fabric color of peacoats was navy blue.

Navy blue peacoats are still popular today, but you can find them in other neutral colors as well. For women’s fashion, in particular, you can also find peacoats in brighter colors and even patterned fabrics.

Although the color selection for peacoats has broadened, the design features of peacoats have very much remained the same. One of the most distinguishing features of a traditional peacoat was the buttons.

They were made with metal buttons that had anchor designs on them as a reference to being worn as part of a navy uniform. Some peacoats still have metal buttons today, but plastic buttons are also very common.

What Is a Trenchcoat?

are pea coats warmWhile this style of coat was worn well before then, trench coats get their name because that style of coat was worn by army men who fought in the trenches during World War I. Meant to look more discreet, traditional trench coat colors were khaki and olive green. They were also designed to be more heavy-duty to protect soldiers from the wind and rain.

After World War I, trench coats weren’t associated with the military as much, but their key features haven’t changed much. Like peacoats, men’s trench coats today are still mostly found in neutral colors. A wider range of color options is available in women’s trench coats.

The original purpose of trench coats was to be worn more for practicality rather than style. Today they can be both stylish and practical, but they aren’t necessarily made to be worn for “dressy” occasions. This is due to the heavy-duty materials used to make them and the general lack of embellishments.

What Is the Difference Between Trench Coat and Peacoat?

Now that we have more details on the origin, background, and general purpose of peacoats and trench coats, let’s take a closer look at some of the details. This way, we can compare the two so that you’ll have a better understanding of the general purpose and style of each one.

Design

difference between trench coat and peacoatPeacoats are classic and timeless and the general design hasn’t changed much over the years. But today’s peacoats are designed to be more stylish and synonymous with fashion instead of the military. Today there is greater variety in the color, fit, and fabric. But key design features such as the large collar, buttons, pockets, and double-breasted silhouette have not changed.

Trench coats are similar to peacoats in that they are double-breasted and have buttons up the front. But they have always been more practical, which is reflected in the design features. For example, one of the distinguishing features, sleeve straps, can be used to tighten sleeves around the cuffs to keep wind and rain out.

They also have large pockets that button to keep your stuff more secure. And, the pockets can be accessed from either the inside or outside. In addition, epaulets (or shoulder tabs) can be used to secure gloves or other small items. Today trench coats are still just as practical, but since they come in more colors, they can be stylish as well.

Fabric

Peacoats have always been made mostly of wool due to the thickness, warmth, and general water resistance that wool provides. Today’s peacoats are still made largely from wool, although they may not be 100% wool. Some peacoats may even be made out of polyester, cotton, or nylon. While these materials are cheaper, they don’t provide the same quality peacoat that wool does.

Nineteenth-century trench coats were traditionally made from rubber. Although rubber provided the wearer with excellent protection from the rain, it was soon discovered that this was not the best material to use.

That’s when trench coats started to be made from heavy-duty cotton known as gabardine, thanks to Thomas Burberry. Gabardine turned out to be ideal: lightweight but durable and waterproof. It is still used for a lot of trench coats today, along with synthetic materials like polyester.

Warmth

Peacoats are designed to keep you warm because they are made of wool. But it isn’t just the wool fabric that will keep you warm. Design features of a peacoat also help. Since the coat buttons snugly up the front, the coat fits closer to the body. This will help keep cold air and wind from getting underneath the fabric. The large collar can also be turned up in the back and buttoned in the front to keep the cold air off of your neck.

Trench coats will also keep you warm, but not in the same sense that peacoats will. Since trench coats aren’t made of wool but rather cotton gabardine, they will keep you warm by keeping you dry. However, the large collar on trench coats can also be turned up to keep you warm. The cuffs on the sleeves can also be tightened. But overall, the warmth advantage goes to peacoats.

Length

trench coat vs peacoatSince peacoats were designed to be worn over a military uniform, they are a little longer than most other types of jackets.

Peacoats usually extend to the length of the hips or slightly lower to the middle of the thigh. This makes them a little longer than the hemline of a men’s shirt. For women, it’s the perfect length to wear over a blouse or dress.

Trench coats are longer than peacoats. They usually hit at the knees or even below the knees.

The reason that they are so long is to protect more of the body from the wind and rain. But they aren’t long enough that it’s hard to move or easy to trip on them, which is why they were preferred for military use.

Fitting

The original fit of the peacoat was straight cut but flared at the bottom to make movement easier. Now peacoats are designed with a tapered fit. The tapered fit gives a more defined shape to the wearer. The double-breasted shape is also more roomy at the shoulders, which aids in the better movement for the upper torso.

Trench coats are also straight cut but are designed to have a looser fit. The loose fit was to accommodate the bulk of the military uniform. But since the trench coat isn’t as warm, a looser fit allows for layers to be worn underneath to increase warmth. Trench coats also have a double-breasted shape to increase movement in the shoulders.

Color

Original peacoats were navy blue to signify being worn by naval soldiers. Today peacoats can be found in pretty much any color, ranging from gray, black, and brown to red, green, and even patterns such as plaid.

Trench coats were typically khaki, sand, or olive green to aid in camouflage. Many trench coats can still be found in these traditional colors, but like peacoats, they come in a range of other colors as well. It’s not unusual to see trench coats in colors like yellow, red, and blue, especially in women’s fashion.

Belt

topcoat vs overcoatPeacoats do not usually have a belt. While some modern designers may add a belt to their peacoat designs, the more fitted aspect of peacoats means that a belt is not necessary to give the coat a defined shape.

Trench coats usually do have a belt. This belt was part of the original design and it had a practical purpose: to help secure a sword or other equipment.

On modern trench coats, the belt doesn’t have such a practical purpose. Rather, it can be tightened to shape the coat since trench coats tend to have a looser fit.

Water Resistance

Peacoats that are made from wool are very water-resistant. Wool isn’t 100% waterproof, but it can absorb as much as 30% of its weight in water before it becomes saturated and soaks through. So, in addition to being warm, peacoats will generally protect you from the rain as well as long as you don’t allow them to become saturated.

Trench coats aren’t necessarily 100% waterproof either, but they are highly water-resistant. This is due to the heavy-duty fabric. If the weather outside is very wet but not necessarily cold, then a trench coat is the better choice for outerwear because it will keep you dry.

Cost

Ultimately, the cost of a peacoat versus a trenchcoat depends on the type of fabric it is made of. Wool is a rarer fabric, so any type of clothing made from wool will cost more than clothing made from other fabrics.

But you also have to consider that trench coats have more components, such as a longer length and a belt. This could result in a higher cost because more fabric is used to make them. The coat designer should also be taken into consideration, as both peacoats and trench coats from high-end designers can be expensive.

Care

Since peacoats are usually made from wool, they require more specialized care. A lot of wool is recommended to be dry-cleaned only because the fibers can be damaged easily. You can also handwash wool, but you should wash it in cold water and use a gentle soap. Never dry wool in the dryer, peacoats, or otherwise. Instead, lay it flat to dry away from direct sunlight and heat.

Trench coats are easier to care for as long as they are made from cotton or another heavy-duty material. But if your trench coat has a removable lining, then it should be removed and washed separately. The gentle cycle is the best cycle to use because there is less agitation. You should also use cool water to keep the fabric from shrinking. Avoid putting the coat in the dryer as well because heat can damage the fibers. Lay it flat to dry instead.

When to Wear & When Not to Wear

Peacoats

Peacoats are usually worn during the winter months when it is colder outside. But if you live in an area that has a chilly fall and spring days, then a peacoat may be appropriate then as well. The only time you shouldn’t wear a peacoat is during the late spring and summer months when the temperatures begin to rise. Wool can be too hot and stuffy to wear in the heat.

The great thing about peacoats is that they can be worn both casually and formally. You can dress them up or down. They are appropriate to wear to work or a fancy dinner, or you can even wear them with jeans and a nice blouse.

Trench Coats

The best time to wear a trench coat is during the mild temperatures of spring and fall, especially on rainy days. Although trench coats will keep you warm, they may not be warm enough for winter temperatures. Likewise, trench coats may be too warm to wear during the hotter summer months.

Trench coats are generally worn casually or professionally, for example, with jeans or for a day at the office. But depending on the general style of a trench coat, it can be worn formally as well. Modern trench coats still have the traditional design elements but are sophisticated enough to be worn for any occasion.

Pros and Cons of Peacoat

Now that we’ve covered all of the details let’s look at a summary of the pros and cons of peacoats.

Pros

  • Versatile- can be dressed up or down
  • Wear in fall, winter, and early spring
  • Comfortable and stylish
  • Made of wool, which will keep you warm

Cons

  • Made of wool, which requires special care
  • Some people are allergic to wool
  • Not as water-resistant as a trench coat

Pros and Cons of Trench Coat

For a summary and comparison, let’s look at the pros and cons of trench coats as well.

Pros

  • Longer length- covers more of your body
  • More water-resistant than peacoats
  • Don’t require as much special care
  • Can be dressed up or down

Cons

  • Won’t keep you as warm as a peacoat
  • Not as versatile- aren’t good for winter
  • A lot of fabric- can be too heavy for some people

Different Peacoat Styles

While all peacoats have the same basic design features, there are some slight variations in the particular style of peacoat.

  • Classic Peacoat- the most common style; large collar, double-breasted, and flairs at the hips
  • Bridge Peacoat- large collar, double-breasted, longer length that reaches mid-thigh
  • Single-Breasted Peacoat- large collar but single-breasted instead of double-breasted; a more casual peacoat

Which One Should You Choose, Peacoat or Trench Coat?

SAUKOLE Women's Winter Wool Trench Coat Wrap Large Collar High Low Jacket Outwear with Belt BeigeSo now that you have all the information, how do you know which one to choose? There are several things you need to consider. Perhaps the major factor would be to consider the climate where you live and what kind of protection you need from the elements.

For example, if you live somewhere that experiences cold or snowy winters, you might opt for a peacoat instead of a trench coat. A peacoat is warmer and will better protect you from the cold. But if you live in a milder climate or a rainy climate, a trench coat might be better. Although not as warm, it will keep you dry.

You should also consider your lifestyle and which one suits your style best. While both can be dressed up or down, peacoats are better for more formal events, while trench coats are a great outerwear choice that looks professional. Of course, both can be worn casually as well.

Finally, you should take into consideration how easy each type of coat is to care for. If they are made from wool, many peacoats are dry clean only or need to be hand-washed. On the other hand, most trench coats can be machine-washed, but the liner may need to be washed separately. Think about how much time and patience you have to devote to caring for your coat.

Popular Models of Peacoat and Trench Coats

Women’s Peacoat

Anne Klein Women's Classic Double-Breasted Coat, Navy, XSThis double-breasted women’s peacoat comes in 11 different colors- neutral, vibrant, and even leopard print.

It comes in five sizes and is made from a blend of wool and polyester fabric, so it is dry-cleaned only.

The flared bottom that hits just below the hip makes this peacoat both flattering and stylish.

It is perfect to wear for running errands, going to work, or even for a dinner date and will keep you warm and dry all winter long.

Men’s Peacoat

Nautica Men's Classic Double Breasted Peacoat, Charcoal, SmallThis men’s peacoat comes in three neutral colors: black, charcoal gray, and the traditional navy.

It is made from a blend of wool, polyester, and other fiber, which is dry clean only. But it has a quilted lining which will provide extra warmth.

This particular peacoat has all of the classic style features of a traditional peacoat. It is double-breasted, with a large collar and slanted vertical pockets. Pockets in the inside lining also provide extra storage for gloves and other necessities.

Women’s Trench Coat

Wantdo Women's Casual Pea Coats Winter Long Trench Coat with Belt Khaki MediumThis trench coat is made out of 100% windproof and water-resistant polyester fabric. That means that it is machine-washable, so caring for it is easy. Wear it with or without the removable belt. Choose from 10 different colors and six different styles so that well, and the pockets are deep so you can carry all of your necessities with you.

On rainy days, you can wear it with jeans or a suit and be assured that this trench coat will keep you dry.

London Fog Men’s Iconic Trench Coat

London Fog Men's Iconic Trench Coat, Dark Navy, 42The London Fog men’s trench coat has all the style elements of traditional trench coats. It even comes in traditional colors: navy blue, green, and khaki. Made out of a nylon and polyester blend, this trench coat will be effective at protecting against both wind and rain,

The classic double-breasted silhouette, 10 buttons on the front, and sleeve straps mimic the features of the original trench coats. But one of the unique features of this trench coat is the wool blend collar, which is detachable for easy cleaning.

Conclusion

Hopefully, this guide made it easier for you to distinguish between a peacoat and a trench coat. While both originated in the military, their use has expanded to include styles for both men and women. Peacoats are shorter and warmer, while trench coats are longer and more water-resistant. Both can be dressed up or down. If you enjoyed this article, be sure to share it and leave a comment. Thanks for reading!