Military style has proven it’s more than a fleeting trend and moved on to become a classic look for men.
Rising to prominence during WWII, the aesthetic – made up of structured coats, muted hues and masculine combat prints – is a fusion of functional uniformity, but reimagined for today’s stylish gent.
Military pieces pop out of the fashion trenches each and every season. Armed and dangerous, military isn’t relenting its attack any time soon. Soldier up.
Breaking It Down – Military Style
The military drill is all about outerwear and topping tailoring and urban wear with a signature parka, pea or officer coat. Then, the boots: heavy duty versions of the Derby with traction soles or crepe. But the colour and pattern is the most striking element of military’s attack: launching shades of green, brown and khaki over trousers, shirts and tees, before going AWOL with reworked camouflage prints – in the most unlikely places.
Needing no introduction, camouflage is the go-to military print. While it may not be office-appropriate, camo does work for smart casual occasions, selecting on item only the motley pattern. Pair a faded camo-print tee under a navy blazer and then khaki chinos and white sneakers for a cool weekend look. Or replace the sneakers for army brown leather lace-ups – no socks with cuffs rolled.
Camo footwear fires-up an off-duty look, ranging from sliders to sneakers. Retro-style trainers with velcro tabs and suede panels complement the camo-pattern; pairing the footwear with more demure pieces like black slim-fit jeans and in a crisp white Oxford shirt. Then chuck on a parka for the cooler months. Military boots elevate the army games, especially with camo-print socks slightly exposed under roller chino cuffs.
Outerwear is the most essential military style item and there are two main opponents this season: the pea and officer coat. The peacoat is associated with marines, and has fast become a modern essential. Made famous by Daniel Craig and Steve McQueen, the double-breasted cut, matched with its sprawling, flared collar, fits nicely over a suit for work.
Elsewhere, the cropped coat offers a tailored edge to any t-shirt and denim outfit. Stick to muted hues such as navy, black or olive for this one, or camel for something softer.
The peacoat’s superior is the officer coat. The same in fit, silhouette and details, the officer is much more of a statement with its length and seething epaulettes, and serves as shield against the battery of winter’s chill.
Keep the details simple – never opting a print – and the brass buttons could easily be replaced for tonal ones to match the colour of the coat. Wear over cropped, woollen trousers with pleats and traction-soled Derby boots. If you look like you’re going to a dress party mix in tee up top and make sure the coat isn’t too oversized.
Enlist In Green
Green – in both khaki and olive shades – is the go-to colour for military style. The natural hues are a great replacement for black and navy, and should never by worn with camo-print, as it creates a rather fancy-dress military look.
Green suiting was a huge trend at Pitti Uomo 88, and in olive shades – the earthiness of the colour aligning with natural fabrics such as linen. Separating a cotton suit is nice option too; teaming the jacket with a white tee and black cropped trousers in jersey over brogue Derbies.
Add a camo-print pocket square for an extra thematic kick with the blazer. Leave the trousers for an unbuttoned collared shirt in Seventies brown and add matching chocolates loafers.
The washed out denim – either as a jacket or tastefully ripped jeans – pairs well with khaki; selecting an army green tee under a bomber for more casual looks or a black trench coat to layer over an olive green shirt. Otherwise, go completely tonal, recruiting an olive tee and khaki chinos over taupe brown Chelsea’s in suede.
The foundation of this look is the parka. While it won’t protect you from gun fire, the hooded, floaty coat is a great winter layer. Types include fishtail and the more Eskimo fur-lined. And, this season is all about the raincoat parka or sports model in either matte rubber finish or satiny, nylon.
For a street chic appeal, chuck on a rollneck (key this season) and black cropped pants. Or exchange the rollneck for a striped sweater over skinny jeans and Derbies.
For mod work attire, the weightier parka in clean detail and design is ideal over suits. The militant hues pop over a light grey suit and black Derbies boots or Chelsea. Then don a trilby if you’re feeling very mod and up the ante with a charcoal, tweedy waistcoat for a tonal and textured grey three-piece suit.
Even military style has succumb to the sportsluxe trend conquering menswear right now. The sturdy militant trousers in relaxed silhouette become more tailored with cuffed ankles and elasticated waists.
Typical utilitarian details such as cargo pockets and thick cottons are replaced with metallic zips and synthetic fibres, accentuating the active notes.
Pair the neo-pants with military boots and a nice fit tee; opting for the half-tuck with a matching belt. For a layered look, tee-up a bomber jacket in sporty neoprene or nylon, adding airforce appeal; especially when paired with aviation sunglasses.
Key Military Style Pieces
Outerwear: Burberry is the go-to trench or grab a sporty rubber parka from Rains. Satiny bomber from Valentino or Louis Vuitton.
Pea coat from Dunhill, Dries Van Noten or Thom Browne and the field jacket comes care of Berluti and Belstaff. A waxed-coated parka goes well from Barbour.
Bottoms: Check out Sacai for woollen sturdiness, or Alexander McQueen for sporty, cropped ones in green with zip details. Camo-shorts from Neighborhood and khaki chinos from APC.
Shirt: Valentino does a subtle camo-button shirt and for an olive green tee check out Allsaints.
Shoes: For military style boots look to Dolce & Gabbana, Heschung and Paul Smith – a dressier option. For camo-sneakers look to Valentino and Golden Goose for cool charcoal suede trainers.