Whether or not you’ve served in the military, some pieces in your wardrobe have undoubtedly been influenced by military style. Originally issued for rugged conditions on land, on the open ocean, or in the air, classic menswear pieces from the white tee to the bomber jacket were developed for the most active of lifestyles, and can serve you just as well for your daily commute, everyday activities, and weekend excursions. Read on to find out about how to incorporate military style into your wardrobe.
1. Start simple with a white tee
Like many forms of military-inspired outerwear — more on those soon — the white tee is an innovation popularized by the military. Lucky for you, it’s the easiest place to start if you want to channel a little bit of military influence when you get dressed in the morning. The white tee was originally an undershirt, issued to keep soldiers and sailors from sweating through their uniforms. But you don’t have to relegate the white tee to your underwear drawer. In short-sleeve or long-sleeve versions, a mid-weight white cotton tee is a versatile layering piece for fall and winter. Wear one under a shawl-collar cardigan or completely hidden from view under a scratchy turtleneck sweater. And on particularly warm days, pair a white tee with your olive green chinos or raw, selvedge jeans.
2. Choose a military-inspired coat or jacket
Most classic kinds of men’s outerwear originate in styles first popularized by military forces in the United States and around the world. A naval-inspired peacoat, especially in a classic navy blue, is one of the most versatile styles of outerwear you can invest in, and is especially warm when paired with a soft but substantial scarf. The field jacket is a lightweight, cotton option, perfect for warmer days. The parka, which first became popular when the U.S. army began issuing the M-1948, is great for layering and has a hood, a long length, and a fishtail hem. The trench coat is a rainy-day staple, the bomber jacket is a great defense against windy days, and the leather flight jacket is as stylish a layer as ever, especially in a modern cut. Finally, a long wool greatcoat is an impressive option for the coldest of cities, but for most guys, a shorter overcoat will suffice.
3. Don’t be afraid to try camouflage
While we wouldn’t recommend wearing a pair of camo-print cargo pants anytime soon, there are other ways to wear the print and still maintain a trim and flattering silhouette. If you haven’t worn camouflage since middle school, start small, with a backpack or tote for weekend trips. If you’re ready to be a little bit more adventurous, consider a sweater or even a jacket in the brown and green print. Or, if you’re up for the challenge, choose a slim pair of camo-print chinos, perhaps in a muted color, being sure to pair them with neutral, solid pieces for the best look.
4. Add some olive green to your wardrobe
If camouflage isn’t your style, olive green is another military hue that may be more your speed. Almost any piece of clothing you can think of — shirt jackets, field jackets, blazers, overcoats, sweaters, tee shirts — are available in olive green. This is great since it’s such a versatile color and one that’s flattering on just about every guy. You can pair an olive green jacket with a pair of navy chinos and a white fisherman sweater, an olive green sweater with a pair of grey or black pants, or a pair of olive green chinos with a chambray shirt.
5. Choose a versatile pair of boots
A pair of hard-wearing boots is always a good choice in the fall or winter, and once you have a pair that you love, they’ll last through years of wear if you care for them properly. Lace-up leather boots, in either black or brown, will pair equally well with slim, raw jeans and a casual jacket or a pair of chinos and a blazer.
6. Channel military style with accessories
The accessories you add to your ensemble are just as important as the sweater or coat you choose. You can add some military style to any outfit with a few well-placed details. Consider a wristwatch, like a pilot’s chronograph, a dive watch, or a field watch. Or on a sunny day, go with a classic pair of aviator sunglasses. Try a tie or pocket square in a classic military textile, like a muted camouflage, to infuse military style into an outfit you’ll wear to the office, or even choose a decorative pair of cuff links in the shape of a plane or ship for an even subtler detail.
7. Channel military style even with your formalwear
Though you might think military style only influences what men wear on more casual days, then you aren’t familiar with the origin of the stripe that runs down the side of a pair of tuxedo pants. The style was copied from the grosgrain ribbon that adorns the dress uniforms of some services’ dress uniforms, like the red stripe affixed to the navy pants of a U.S. Marines dress uniform. You can channel military style even at formal events with a tuxedo featuring a more subtle version of the stripe.