If you were to cross reference James Bond fans with guys who got into men’s style in the early 2010s, one item they’d all have in common is the pea coat. Not only is this rugged coat an outerwear staple, but 007 himself wore it in two films—first in the black-and-white pre-credits sequence of Casino Royale, and then more prominently in Skyfall. Ask anyone who was into menswear in 2012 which peacoat Daniel Craig wore in the Shanghai scene and the answer will be instant: the Billy Reid “Bond” peacoat.
Like a good member of the overlapping Venn diagrams mentioned above, I was impressed by all the badass jackets of Skyfall, and I too made my pilgrimage down to Billy Reid’s Bond Street location during a lunch break one day in 2013. (The sales staff were incredibly friendly, by the way, and I’m sure I annoyed them with my many questions.) I tried on what seemed at that point like a mystical coat, marveled at the price tag, and walked away. Over the years, I’ve kept tabs on cool outerwear from the Craig films, but most of the 007 wardrobe is too pricy to buy on a whim.
Two presidents and a global pandemic later, I came across the Bond peacoat on winter clearance on the Nordstrom Rack site, in dark brown, for only $210. This was January 2021, at the then-worst point of the pandemic, and I knew that the occasions to wear this coat would be limited. But at that price I just couldn’t pass it up as a purchase for when things finally returned to normal. I’ve still barely worn the coat, given that I work from home and, if I do leave the house, it’s usually with a toddler that would love nothing more than to leave grubby handprints all over that 80/20 wool blend. But I wanted to put together this review for anyone considering it in 2022.
And I get it—there are already rave reviews of the Bond coat on 007 sites, menswear sites, and YouTube. But if we’re honest with ourselves, there’s a lot of hype surrounding this peacoat. Even some hero worship. After all, Daniel Craig himself loves this coat and reportedly requested it for the film. And it’s human nature to want to believe that something we spent a lot on is in fact worth it. What I hope to do is to share some lesser-known details and provide a balanced pro/con overview.
First, a note on fit.
I’m about a size 40 chest and a solid medium across the board in most brands (Banana Republic, Gap, Polo, Uniqlo). I’m even a medium in Billy Reid’s shirts. But I’ve come to expect his medium outerwear to fit me way too tight in the shoulders and under the arms, which is a problem you don’t want with jackets and coats. And while sizing up to a large in most brands would be too big and throw off all the proportions, in this case I got lucky. If you’re on the fence (either in terms of sizing or purchase decision), I wouldn’t rule out your next size up. The measurements of the large (laid flat) are:
- Chest pit to pit: 22″
- Shoulder seam to shoulder seam (in back of coat): 18″
- Sleeve length from shoulder seam to cuff: 26″
- Length from base of collar to hem in back: 30″
Second, a bit about the fabric and manufacturing.
Apparently the very early versions of the Bond coat were 100% wool, but since then Billy Reid has relied on an 80% wool, 20% nylon blend. I’m not a stickler for 100% wool in this context; I feel like 80% is pretty solid, and if the added nylon provides some durability and weather resistance, that’s okay by me.
More importantly, the fabric is thick and sturdy. I can’t confirm whether mine is melton wool, and I’ve never owned a Schott for comparison. But it’s noticeably more substantial than a mall-brand peacoat. This manifests itself not only in the hand of the fabric but also in the drape: while a wool-blend coat off the rack at Gap or H&M tends to feel like felt and hang oddly off the body, this coat feels like armor.
My version of the coat is still made in Italy, but I noticed that the current iteration on the Billy Reid website is now made in Portugal, and the wool content is down to 75%. Is it a result of pandemic supply-chain issues and monetary pressures? I don’t know. But keep this change in mind if you’re looking at the latest version. I also came across a video that says the newer version is slightly roomier across the back and also has some stretch in the material.
Third, the Bond peacoat has some unique aesthetic features I really like.
While the standard US Navy peacoat has four rows of buttons across the front (plus a hidden lapel button) and one set of waist-level slash hand pockets, the Billy Reid version has only three rows of buttons, but two sets of pockets: a pair of waist-level button-flap welt pockets, and a pair of chest-height vertical slash handwarmer pockets. Pockets are highly subjective, but for me, this combination is a win. The lower pockets offer storage and visual interest, and the handwarmer pockets are perfect for winter commuting (if I ever go back to the office).
Billy Reid is known for adding unique luxe touches to his garments, and the Bond coat has natural horn buttons (vs. metal or plastic) and a cool leather lining under the collar and pocket flaps. It’s not a huge thing, but it’s nice, particularly on the collar as it’s visible when popped but not as garish as a Burberry plaid.
The fourth point is both a pro and a con, depending on whom you ask: the peak lapels.
In a purist sense, a peacoat simply doesn’t have peak lapels. It’s true that the original designs had a large collar folded over like lapels. It’s also true that you lose some wind protection when you flip up this smaller, even anemic, peak lapel vs. the original. You won’t look like Redford in Three Days of the Condor. But I’m okay with the smaller peak lapels because I’ve always found that peacoat collars look awkward on me when not popped. But if I constantly pop the collar of a traditional peacoat, I look like I’m always expecting a nor’easter or setting myself up for an insult from Succession’s Tom Wambsgans. The lower-key lapels seem less ostentatious when worn up, which, again, is subjective but a win for me.
Fifth, the cons.
I did promise that this wouldn’t be another glowing review telling you that you must go buy this coat so that you can look like 007. The first con is the lack of an interior lining. This isn’t always clearly advertised, and it’s a big deal. The Bond coat lacks not only an insulated lining for warmth but also any kind of smooth lining on the back or sleeves that you would expect from a dressy, higher-end wool coat. Some might say that the lack of lining makes the coat easier to tailor, but honestly that feels like bullshit. Having unlined wool sleeves definitely makes it harder to slide the coat on and off (particularly over knitwear), and it also means we don’t get any interior pockets. Again, I know there are four exterior pockets, but this is a $700 MSRP coat, and I don’t think expecting an interior pocket is unreasonable.
The second con is the warmth level. Unless you run hot, be wary of anyone telling you this coat is amazingly warm and can be worn all winter, etc. It’s a nice thick wool, but in the Northeast US, it’s basically a coat for fall or milder winter days vs. a true workhorse for the bitterest weather. As I mentioned above, there’s no insulated lining, and the lack of a sleeve lining makes it harder for you to layer over your warm chunky knitwear. It’s still doable—just tougher. And you lack that pleasing feeling of sliding a coat smoothly over the layers beneath. Perhaps if you live in a hotter area where winters are milder, this isn’t such a negative.
So what’s the verdict?
Is this coat worth it? I hate to give the standard lawyer answer, but “maybe.” For me, I was able to get it in dark brown for only $210, which seems more than fair. It’s a less-expected color for a peacoat, but that plus the peak lapels means that it can be a bit of a statement coat without breaking the bank. The brown is still available at Nordstrom Rack for $367.46, but only in XL and XXL.
However, navy, black, or even gray won’t likely drop that low, but you can find them at Amazon for various prices depending on the algorithm. And it’s hard to see paying full or near full retail for this coat when you can get a Schott for less or put the $700 toward something like a Private White VC, which is also a very detail-oriented peacoat.
And that, I suppose, is sort of the point when we come across extremely hyped items worn by our favorite characters. There’s an urge to pull the trigger because having the same coat as Bond will, we’re told, make us feel like Bond. But it’s always better to dress in a way that takes inspiration from many sources but is natural and practical for our own life, sense of style, body type, and circumstances. I decided to keep the Bond peacoat at the price I paid, but only you can decide if it’s really a practical piece for your own life.
But if you’re the type that looks good washed up on a beach with a bullet in your shoulder, then I guess it really doesn’t matter.
Get a budget-alt Peacoat and see more James Bond style: