The military influence has been well documented over the years. From avant-garde catwalk pieces to those that we like to label ‘timeless wardrobe essentials’, the forces have had a major part in shaping the cut, colour and cloth of many items in menswear. After the look went through a relatively reclusive period, military has succeeded in establishing itself as big an influence as ever for AW12; something I began to break down in my three returning trends article earlier in the season.

While trends regularly die down and burn out within a season or two (often to be resurrected at some point in the future), military hasn’t suffered the same fate. It’s soldiered on through the quieter patches where it hasn’t been the dominant force, maintaining an influence in some shape or form for at least the last five years.

The Look: Military

Definitively masculine, the military aesthetic creates a diverse look that can err on the side of rugged or maintain a strict sharpness about it. Among the key pieces: military-inspired outerwear such as the trench, duffle, aviator and peacoat, as well as tough footwear options and striking detailing – from epaulettes to buttons.

Key Consideration: Outerwear

Soldierly roots, although it may not be immediately apparent, inspire a wealth of popular outerwear styles. As well as those mentioned above, we could count the parka, officer coat and safari jacket among the military outerwear ranks.

Whatever your preference, you can guarantee that a coat inspired by the military forces will be a timeless and versatile classic worthy of investment. The trench coat, for example, offers a great option for the morning commute – especially during the current season when rain is a perennial problem. It also doubles as a suitable casual coat to bring sharp lines and a strong silhouette to a dressed down denim and knitwear combination.

On the other end, a shearling aviator is a contemporary on trend classic that brings a touch of effortless cool to any look and serves as a great statement piece as well as an everyday jacket that is bound to keep the cold at bay.

Men's Military Inspired Outerwear Lookbook

  • Allsaints Petrov Pea CoatAllsaints Petrov Pea Coat
  • Scotch And Soda Duffle CoatScotch And Soda Duffle Coat
  • Carhartt Sub Blue Anchorage Parka JacketCarhartt Sub Blue Anchorage Parka Jacket
  • Topman Navy Wool Trench CoatTopman Navy Wool Trench Coat
  • Burberry Brit Ceylon Brown Military CoatBurberry Brit Ceylon Brown Military Coat
  • Gant Rugger A-2 Faux Shearling-lined Leather Bomber JacketGant Rugger A-2 Faux Shearling-lined Leather Bomber Jacket
  • Easy Moleskin Fielder JacketEasy Moleskin Fielder Jacket
  • Topman Khaki Wool PeacoatTopman Khaki Wool Peacoat
  • Reiss Jeymer Short Trench Coat GreenReiss Jeymer Short Trench Coat Green
  • Allsaints Flint Leather Bomber JacketAllsaints Flint Leather Bomber Jacket
  • Religion Inferno Inj01 Khaki CoatReligion Inferno Inj01 Khaki Coat
  • Woolrich Olive Cambridge Faux Fur Fishing ParkaWoolrich Olive Cambridge Faux Fur Fishing Parka
Key Consideration: Military Boots

Winter looks built around military boots appeared to have met an untimely end a year or two ago (thank you, JLS). As a footwear option, however, there is nothing wrong in resurrecting them for a second wind. A strong military-inspired boot is a surefire way to revitalise and refresh your current footwear selection, and doubles up as a sturdy way to combat the treacherous conditions the winter season brings. [Will even broke down the importance of seasonally appropriate footwear in his recent common winter fashion mistakes article and winter footwear guide follow-up.]

Worn with your trousers tucked in for a youthfully stylish appearance, or covering the boots for a more practical and classic approach, it is definitely worth noting that the military style boot is, unquestionably, a casual option. Avoid pairing them with formal wear or suiting at all cost; the clash of styles is just too extreme.

However, don’t be afraid to rock them alongside a trench or other military-inspired coat that is often seen as more ‘dressy’. Back-belt the trench over a couple of casual layers – maybe get creative with a denim jacket underneath – and lace-up a solid pair of boots for a superb casual but stylish look.

Men's Military Boots Lookbook

  • Topman Peter 2 Black BootsTopman Peter 2 Black Boots
  • Frank Wright Navajo Military BootsFrank Wright Navajo Military Boots
  • Allsaints Cropped Military BootAllsaints Cropped Military Boot
  • Mens Long Lace Leather Military BootsMens Long Lace Leather Military Boots
  • Okeeffe Cormac Washed-leather BootsOkeeffe Cormac Washed-leather Boots
  • Rick Owens Mens Military BootRick Owens Mens Military Boot
  • Collins Kg Kurt GeigerCollins Kg Kurt Geiger
  • Flinder Kg Kurt GeigerFlinder Kg Kurt Geiger
  • Men’s Military Style Lace-up Ankle BootsMen’s Military Style Lace-up Ankle Boots
  • Burton Casual Grey Fold Down BootBurton Casual Grey Fold Down Boot
  • Rick Owens Textured-leather Military BootsRick Owens Textured-leather Military Boots
  • Suede BootsSuede Boots
Key Consideration: Olive & Camouflage

Having already compiled articles covering both these topics, I won’t go into too much detail on these two. Instead, I will allow you to enjoy this prior reading:

Items in variations of olive and camouflage are currently enjoying a moment in menswear. While camo has been more than a contentious issue here on FashionBeans – one that will continue to cause division – it adds an obvious nod to the military in any outfit; even in the smallest of doses. A product of last summer’s massive print influx, camouflage is carrying on through this season and is set to still be standing guard next spring/summer.

Olive, on the other hand, is far less dividing and a great option all year round. As a part of the season’s biggest colour palette, olive presents a solid autumn/winter option each and every year. Earth tones are perfect to complement the seasonal mood and can be integrated into a variety of popular trend looks – from military to heritage to outdoors inspired.

Incorporate olive into your wardrobe as a modern neutral, much like you would khaki, grey and navy. Olive mixes well with other autumn tones such as burgundy and camel while also contrasting beautifully against colours like orange, red or yellow for an altogether more striking look.

Men's Military Colours & Prints Lookbook

  • Asos Camo TieAsos Camo Tie
  • Allsaints Ica Crew JumperAllsaints Ica Crew Jumper
  • Topman Camouflage Skinny ChinosTopman Camouflage Skinny Chinos
  • Allsaints Roulette M65 JacketAllsaints Roulette M65 Jacket
  • Stussy Brown Camouflage Issue Field JacketStussy Brown Camouflage Issue Field Jacket
  • Richard James Camouflage-print Cotton Pocket SquareRichard James Camouflage-print Cotton Pocket Square
  • Marc By Marc Jacobs Olive Harvey Twill Fitted BlazerMarc By Marc Jacobs Olive Harvey Twill Fitted Blazer
  • F&f Cable Knit Crew Neck JumperF&f Cable Knit Crew Neck Jumper
  • Allsaints Gamekeeper Quilted ShirtAllsaints Gamekeeper Quilted Shirt
  • Selected Three Paris ChinosSelected Three Paris Chinos
  • Easy Waffle Knit JumperEasy Waffle Knit Jumper
  • J.crew Cotton-poplin ShirtJ.crew Cotton-poplin Shirt
Best Of The Rest

The military inspiration within menswear runs deep. It would be a monumental task to break down each and every piece that had an army, navy or air force link.

Outside of the three major considerations above, you have pieces such as military shirts (complete with epaulettes) that create a real statement when compared to your traditional Oxford versions – working well with or without a tie and bringing something a little different to both casual or smart-casual looks.

Then, of course, there are iconic accessories such as aviator sunglasses – an eternal menswear favourite that will continue to be the frame of choice for men across the globe.

Finally, hard wearing materials such as canvas (watch straps or bags) or metal (button detailing and jewellery) will only help emphasise the rugged and durable qualities that military wear is renowned for.

  • Vintage Surplus Oversized Military ShirtVintage Surplus Oversized Military Shirt
  • Iro Military Style ShirtIro Military Style Shirt
  • Barbour Stone Montgomery Military ShirtBarbour Stone Montgomery Military Shirt
  • Allsaints Military Long Sleeved HenleyAllsaints Military Long Sleeved Henley
  • Diesel Military Polo ShirtDiesel Military Polo Shirt
  • Beams Plus Colour-block Cotton-blend Cargo TrousersBeams Plus Colour-block Cotton-blend Cargo Trousers
  • Burberry Brit Albany Military Trousers 127660Burberry Brit Albany Military Trousers 127660
  • Timex X J.crew Timex Military WatchTimex X J.crew Timex Military Watch
  • Miansai Sterling Silver Antique Military NecklaceMiansai Sterling Silver Antique Military Necklace
Final Word

So, with such a huge presence within our wardrobes each and every season, it seems the armed forces are going to continue to inspire our every-day looks for the foreseeable future – becoming less of a ‘trend’ and more of a cornerstone of a great capsule wardrobe.

But what do you think:

  • What military inspired pieces do you currently have in your wardrobe?
  • Do you think military boots have had their day?
  • Will the military trend ever completely die out?
  • What are your current favourite military inspired outfits/looks?

Let us know in the comments section…