A pea coat (or pea jacket, pilot jacket) is an outer coat, generally of a navy-colored heavy wool, originally worn by sailors of European navies. Pea coats are characterized by broad lapels, double-breasted fronts, often large wooden buttons, and vertical or slash pockets. Although it first appeared in the early 18th century, modern renditions still maintain the original design and composition.
A "bridge coat" is a pea coat that extends to the thighs, and is a uniform exclusively for officers and Chief Petty Officers. The "reefer" is for officers only, and is identical to the basic design but usually has gold buttons and epaulettes.
The modern appeal of the coat stems from celebrity interest in the item, and its classic style and practical simplicity. Once considered a luxury item for civilians, it is now popular as casual winter wear on college campuses and among the young demographic.
Today the style is considered a classic, and pea coats are now worn by all manner of individuals, not just professional sailors.
Note that few of the jackets seen on the street are genuine navy surplus; being a classic garment, it is frequently available from retailers, though often with small design changes that reflect the current fashion trends. The standard for historical pea coats was 30 oz. wool, but presently coats are made from 22-32 oz. wool.