Style Inspiration: Military Influence

With function enjoying as much importance as form in the realms of style today, it only seems appropriate to shout out the true originators of function, the U.S. military. The importance that the influence of military-style dress and garments has had on the evolution of today’s styles and trends cannot be understated. From today’s array of flight and bomber jackets to a plethora of camouflage inspired accessories, your closet and personal style owe much to the armed forces. Because they were designed with functionality and utility in mind, their no-nonsense simplicity keeps them looking just as stylish (and functional) as they did on the backs and in the closets of some of the bravest and most stylish men in history. Let’s shed some light on a few military-inspired items that deserve to serve you as well.

The Field Jacket
First up, with its utilitarian contribution to your wardrobe, is the Field Jacket. First joining the ranks in the Military Division in 1965, (hence it’s other common name, the M-65) this jacket was designed as a more wearable alternative to previous jacket iterations. Featuring multiple pockets, a built-in hood and fasteners on the sleeve, collar and cuff, this jacket was made to be packed and conveniently stowed. No less stylish and functional today, this piece of outerwear is a ticket to instant layering success. Stick to the basics; utilize hooded sweatshirts, wool sweaters, thermal long sleeves and an array of t-shirts underneath this renowned military essential. A variety of colors can be found but why mess with tradition? A crisp olive green is not only versatile (pair it with everything from denim to chinos) but also the classic hue.

The Bomber Jacket
Next up on the military roster is the bomber jacket. Beginning as a jacket that was best suited for chilly, cramped cockpits, this jacket has become an outerwear staple that's seen in iterations at every conceivable price point from low end to high fashion. The bomber jacket, or MA-1 if we're being technical, has a longstanding history that stretches from the middle of the 20th century into today. While we associate the Army's “olive green” with just about anything military related, the original color of bomber jackets was in a “midnight blue.” During the course of the Korean War, and especially during the beginning of the Vietnam War Era, the jacket color was shifted to the typical olive green color in order to more effectively camouflage soldiers in countryside’s with dense vegetation and plant life. Available in a myriad of different styles and materials from leather to wool to nylon, the bomber’s style strengths are its simplicity and versatility. This essential zip up is great for multiple seasons whether you layer it up with a knit and scarf or throw it on over your favorite t-shirt.

Aviator Sunglasses
In terms of accessories, we’ve been preaching the case for a classic pair of metal-framed aviators for quite awhile. First created for military pilots in 1936 and released to the general public in 1937, these stylish stalwarts have been on the faces of of the military’s elite (and fictional pilots like Tom Cruise in Top Gun) and exceptionally stylish men ever since. You really can’t go wrong with a classic aviator; they look outstanding on any face shape and work just as well with a suit as they do with denim. Our favorite style is the essential gold frame with a dark grey lens. Avoid anything mirrored and make sure the lens size is proportional to your face size and you’ll be ready for duty.

Lace-Up Boots
A final military-inspired staple that deserves attention is a quality pair of lace-up boots. In many style circles, true combat boots (vintage or new) have a made a comeback in recent years, but we’d recommend focusing on a simple lace-up pair. Something dark and weathered would be ideal; especially for the direction these military inspirations are taking your new and improved look this winter. Treat them with some leather protectant and wear them hard through all the weather this fall and winter throws at you.

A few final notes of importance. With all things style-related here at Unhemmed, we preach quality over quantity. When looking to add some of these staple military-inspired items to your wardrobe, look for vintage options as well. A trip to local army surplus stores and hunts on Ebay can be very worthwhile. But keep the fit top-of-mind, don’t settle for that sought after jacket in a size that doesn’t fit, patience and persistence go a long way when building a wardrobe. Lastly, remember that trends are cyclical, and staples are forever. These military items have been in heavy circulation for generations, and there’s a reason they’re still just as stylish and useful today as they were on the battlefields of yesteryear.