Pea coats in the rain
March 16, 2010 7:44 PM   Subscribe

Will rain do any damage to my pea coat? I'm going to Ireland next month and I expect I'll get caught in the rain a time or two. Will the rain do any harm to my pea coat that's labeled "80% wool, 15% polyester, 5% other"?
posted by Dodgy_Dude to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (11 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Nope, though it may smell like damp wool.
posted by amro at 7:52 PM on March 16, 2010

Pea coats, by the way, were originally made for sailors on ships. Presumably, they got pretty wet at times.
posted by amro at 7:54 PM on March 16, 2010 [2 favorites]

It'll get heavy as hell, but it won't be damaged.
posted by tmt at 7:56 PM on March 16, 2010

If it's never been wet or washed, you might want to check and see if the dye bleeds. That's the only thing to possibly be concerned about, especially if it's a lower-end coat. Get it wet in an inconspicuous spot and blot it with a paper towel.
posted by doift at 8:01 PM on March 16, 2010

My pea coat is listed as 100% wool and I've been caught in the rain many, many times over the past 6 or 7 years with no (apparent) ill effects.
posted by mhum at 8:24 PM on March 16, 2010

Pea coats of old, issued to Navy sailors, had minimal construction elements like shoulder pads, and what construction elements they did use, like chest pieces and woven lapel canvases, were of shape holding woven and blind stitched construction, instead of the modern fusible adhesive interlining construction. A modern coat is softer, lighter, cheaper to produce, and can have better style and fit than the old pea coats did, but it may not compare in terms of wet weather durability.

Moreover, the wool fabrics of Navy peacoats were typically long fiber merino wool, which didn't pill much in wear, if at all, even when wet. A wool/polyester blend fabric, such as described by the OP, probably has 5% used or recycled short wool fibers, added to the original wool, to provide additional bulk and fabric "hand." This type of fabric can pill pretty easily when wet, particular where it might rub against itself, like under the arms, and at the cuffs/outer pockets, collar, etc.

Best advice would be to keep a light weight folding poncho handy in the peacoat pocket, and put it on at the first signs of heavy fog or precipitation.
posted by paulsc at 8:46 PM on March 16, 2010 [5 favorites]

paulsc, that's very interesting. I have a Schott "U.S. 740N Pea Jacket" which I assumed was constructed to the old standards because Schott used to supply the Navy its pea coats during WWII, but now I see that their website says "Our wool is 75 percent reprocessed wool, 25 percent nylon and other fibers." I guess when you say "pea coats of old", you mean quite a bit older?
posted by d. z. wang at 9:57 PM on March 16, 2010

"... I guess when you say "pea coats of old", you mean quite a bit older?"
posted by d. z. wang at 12:57 AM on March 17

I still have one of my Dad's old Naval Clothing Depot coats (manufactured I'm pretty sure by a contractor or contractors in the Phildelphia/West New Jersey area, of that era), from about 1954, very much like this one. Fusible interlinings hadn't been invented when this coat was made. It has woven horse-hair cloth chest pieces, a rayon ("artificial silk") lining, and corduroy lined pockets.

I keep it, because, well, it still smells like he did...
posted by paulsc at 11:42 PM on March 16, 2010 [1 favorite]

A true navy pea coat should weather the weather just fine.
As for the trendy, modern knock-offs that are all the rage today...It's hard to tell. Certainly, they're made of the more-or-less right stuff. But, there's more to it than that. The density of the fabric plays a good part in the durability of the coat. My dad's circa-1948 Navy pea coat, for instance, is heavy as hell compared to a modern coat of similar size/construction.
posted by Thorzdad at 7:10 AM on March 17, 2010

Best answer: After reading this question yesterday, I went home and checked my 3 year old mil-spec pea coat. It's 85% wool and 15% poly (didn't say if it was recycled wool or not). I wear mine as my winter motorcycle jacket for commuting and as such it's been rained on a lot, usually at speed. It's just fine and has very little piling and no burst seams or loose threads in spite of its hard and constant use. Now, my jacket is not your jacket, but I'm pretty confident telling you to just wear it, and be happy and warm.
posted by 1f2frfbf at 6:07 AM on March 18, 2010

Response by poster: I thank you, one and all, for the advice. I get the feeling the (hopefully) "soft rain" of County Kerry won't do any harm to my jacket. (Still, just to be on the safe side, I will take paulsc's advice and keep a poncho in my backpack just in case.)

Thanks again, everybody.
posted by Dodgy_Dude at 11:46 AM on March 18, 2010

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