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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
Let us know in the comments section…