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LA PEAU DURE
The origins of the pea coat
Before being adopted by the French Navy, which chose to make it part of its uniform in the 19th century, the pea coat already had a long nautical history.
Its name comes from the Arabic word, "qaba," which referred to a small cape worn as early as the 15th century in North Africa by Barbary pirates. These, of North African or Ottoman origin, were based in the ports of the Mediterranean basin, in Salé, Tripoli, Algiers, and Tunis.
Their route crossed that of the first European navigators, who gradually adopted the qaba and brought it back to the Old Continent, where it was transformed and became the pea coat we know today.
This short woolen cloth coat entered the ranks of the Royal British Navy, at the very beginning of the 19th century, before being adopted by the French Navy in 1848, then by the US Navy. The pea coat has been so much associated with this universe that its dark blue color is now often called "navy blue."
This coat was shorter for the NCOs, aka petty officers, who needed to perform maneuvers without being hampered in their movements and longer for officers, their thighs being covered by it. In both cases, its fitted cut was designed to avoid any catch in the wind. Its wide collar featured a crossed button fastening to allow the choice of the closing direction according to the direction of the wind.
Subsequently, the pea coat retained its identity while becoming more democratic. Women's pea coats made their appearance. New styles became available in straight or fitted cuts of variable length, stopping at hip height or covering the upper thighs.
Today, the pea coat goes well with all styles, from the most classic to the most rebel. They are an essential piece of a casual chic wardrobe, just like raw denim jeans and leather ankle boots.
The women's duffle coat, a timeless piece
Also made in woolen cloth, the duffle coat shares the same raw material with the women's pea coat and the same maritime heritage.
The duffle coat takes its name from thick black wool produced in the town of Duffel, Belgium. As early as the 15th century, Duffel was known and renowned for its fabrics' robustness, which were exported throughout Europe.
The word "duffel" was then anglicized and became "duffle" at the end of the 19th century, when the first duffle-coats, still quite far from the styles we know today, were marketed by John Partridge, a British supplier.
Early styles were looser and longer than today, as they were originally meant to be worn over another coat. Initially, duffle coats were intended to dress sailors. They were worn by those of the Royal Navy in the 19th century.
They were already recognizable by their original closing system: the conical wooden or horn fasteners were, and still are, held by leather links (they could at times be made of rope), all these elements being attached to the fabric by small pieces of leather.
The fasteners are called Brandenburgs after the German city Brandenburg an der Havel, located near Berlin. They are inspired by those used on the uniforms of the Prussian army. It is said that they were designed this way to allow soldiers and sailors to open and close their duffle coats without having to take off their gloves.
Subsequently, like the pea coat, the duffle coat left the military to enter the civilian world. It gradually carved out a place for itself among the timeless pieces of fashion. The SAINT JAMES women's duffle coats have retained the specificities of this marine garment while offering regularly updated cuts.
Like the pea coat, the duffle coat is one of the essentials of casual chic fashion. It can be worn with a casual outfit, consisting of a sweatshirt, slim jeans, and a pair of sneakers. With a more formal outfit, it can be associated with a pencil skirt and heeled shoes.
SAINT JAMES women's pea coats, coats, and duffle coats are high-quality clothing made with care and standards by craftsmen with recognized know-how.
The timeless yellow raincoat
The origin of the raincoat is once again a work garment intended for sailors and fishermen. To keep the rain and spray from soaking and weighing down their jackets, they came up with the idea of coating them with linseed oil, which would make them waterproof.
It is said that the yellow color of the first modern waterproof coats, which appeared in the 1960s, was inspired by those early cotton jackets, oiled with linseed oil tending to yellow over time. Other more pragmatic versions claim that yellow was chosen for visibility reasons, this color being the most easily spotted at sea.
Still, in France, as in Finland, Germany, and Denmark, yellow vinyl raincoat was first marketed to sailors, who swapped their tunics for this lighter and, above all, totally waterproof garment.
Little by little, like every piece of clothing initially intended for sailors and fishermen, the yellow raincoat has won over the general public. It is now available in different colors, with the same success as the striped shirt or the pea coat.
The Saint James raincoats for women, available in several colors and even in a transparent version, are as aesthetic as practical: their meticulous finishes and modern cuts highlight all silhouettes.
Completely waterproof, they have an essential hood in case of rain and have large buttoned or zipped pockets. The iconic Saint James raincoat is coated with a water-repellent material that prevents water from stagnating and entering the garment. Its striped jersey lining is reminiscent of the striped sweater, a piece with which it goes very well.
Women's oilskins can be worn in town or at sea. They are particularly suitable for the transitional seasons of spring and autumn. Still, they are just as enjoyable in the event of a stormy downpour in summer.
Parkas and jackets complete this range of mid-season clothing for women. Authentic, simple, and quality clothing, whose functional aspect does not interfere with the style but subtly complements it.
The women's smock jacket, a garment with nautical DNA
Like the Breton striped shirt, the pea coat, and the yellow raincoat, the smock jacket is inseparable from the maritime universe from which it originates.
Like the Breton striped shirt, this short blouse in thick cotton canvas is part of the regulatory uniform of sailors engaged in the French Navy since the middle of the 19th century. Since then, it has seduced city dwellers as well. Smock jackets were initially cut from scraps from boat sails, and seafarers made them on their own.
In its traditional version, this garment has a split collar that can be closed with a strap and a button hidden inside. The button's positioning on the inside of the jacket is not for an aesthetic reason but a practical one. Thus positioned, there was no risk of getting caught in the ropes during maneuvers.
The smock jacket also has one or two large patch pockets, sewn inside the garment, at the torso, and accessible through the collar. Historically, these pockets each had a specific purpose: one contained the fishermen's tobacco, the other their logbook, used to record the day's catch.
While still worn by the Newfoundlanders, those sailors who left to fish for cod for long months off the coast of Canada, the jacket was coated with cod oil in bad weather, to protect them more effectively from the rain.
Fishermen used to wear it right side out when they worked and turn it over when they got back to town to cover up the mess. Depending on the ports and sometimes the trades, the color of the jacket was not the same. The red was worn by oyster farmers, the brick or rust by fishermen using traps, the yellow by those who practiced the fishing on foot, and the blue by the fishermen of the open sea.
Today, the Saint James women's smock jacket is available as a jacket or a coat. It is made in lighter and softer fabrics, such as light poplin or cotton denim. While the jacket's spirit remains intact, the cuts are diverted and updated to match all styles, classic, casual-chic, or relaxed.