General life disorganisation meant that I had to quickly book in at my local Toni & Guy for a pre-travel haircut. Despite initial cautiousness (I’d heard horror stories of asymmetrical, blonde-tipped, ‘funky’ dos), it was a comfortable experience once I’d answered that difficult question of “what do you want today?”
My reply – a classic short back and sides – fell on deaf ears, and I realised I was fighting a losing battle when she made a reference to Mario Falcone from The Only Way Is
Idiocy Essex. After several minutes of painful miscommunication, we were both on the same page with the term ‘war hero’ – and it immediately struck me that this style is the epitome of classic timelessness.
In the last couple of years, we’ve seen menswear finally backtrack to key staples; the chino, the pocket square, herringbone and the side parting have all become firm fixtures of mainstream fashion’s consciousness. When combined with seasonally appropriate khakis, heavy boots and leather accents we can all channel our own military look that still retains a completely classic feel.
Inspiration really is everywhere. From WWII propaganda posters to the Tarantino spectacle Inglorious Basterds, do your research and strike a perfect balance between classic vintage and contemporary style. This season, you really don’t need a military background (or even a high kill count on Call Of Duty) to feel like the quintessential war hero.
Judging by the amount of snow the UK has suffered (I’m currently writing this from a pool in Thailand – haters gon’ hate), a good autumn/winter jacket is an essential piece. Think of it this way – all those pulled up collars and hunched shoulders will do wonders for your alpha-male appeal, even if you are freezing the old proverbials off.
Step out into the cold like you’re storming out of Stalingrad and give your practical choice of jacket a military edge. Oversized shirt-jackets in plain khaki, grey or navy are excellent options that possess a more relaxed feel; chest pockets and epaulettes will provide the key detailing that gives your look a sense of authenticity.
Such pieces are easy to source in army surplus stores (your town should have one somewhere) or in customised vintage shops – the latter will likely be more expensive though. For the trend followers in our midst, try a similar style in camo print to give the classic model a contemporary edge.
Another more weather appropriate piece that oozes effortless cool is the pilot jacket – an iconic staple of the RAF back in the glory days of the Dambusters. Investing in shearling is worthwhile; such classic pieces rarely fall off the style radar completely. Along the same lines, buying genuine leather may seem pricey but it’ll be more than worth it in the long run.
Black and dark brown are timeless choices that retain a certain rustic appeal whilst other tones often have a habit of a cheapening an otherwise strong, classic look. Don’t be seduced by style novelty.
A third option lies in the good old peacoat, for a more partisan-inspired style. Stick to a dark colour and a high quality, heavy grade wool for extra warmth and a certain workwear appeal. When teamed with a desert scarf and brown slacks, you’ll look every inch the Black Forest freedom fighter.
A jacket is all well and good, but how do we approach the rest of our war hero outfit? The ideal choice would be a slim-leg trouser (preferably in herringbone or tweed) paired with a crisp white shirt and always, always, always tucked in. It’s a truly timeless ensemble that harks back to the off duty days of the 1940s soldier.
Experiment with different fabrics and muted shirt tones for your own perfect combination – luckily for us, it’s appropriate for countless different occasions. The plainer the shirt, the better.
When weather allows, a more rugged vibe can be achieved by rolling sleeves to bicep level for the well built of our kind. If you’re graced with awkwardly skinny arms like me, just above elbow length will break up the vertical lines and prevent you looking even lankier.
For a more military inspired outfit, try neutral coloured cable knits in combination with khaki/black jeans or trousers. There are plenty available on the high street that embrace epaulettes and elbow patches for a smarter approach to traditional knitwear.
The secret in constructing a perfect war hero-esque outfit is the ability to create sharp lines and a strong silhouette, so anything that is in the upper echelons of military smartness is more than applicable to this style. Seeking out vintage buys is a great method of securing key items, and you might even pick up an old designer piece at a fraction of the price.
A good pair of Dr Marten’s (or any masculine, chunky boot for that matter) will add a hard-wearing finish to your military outfit. Lace them tight and wear with the hems of your trousers rolled up a couple of times for good measure.
The classic Chelsea boot is also currently trending and would be welcome to make an appearance in cherry, black or brown tones.
I’ve forever been an advocate of the short back and sides. Not only is it a classic cut, it’s every inch the 1940s war hero. The recent world fashion weeks taught us a lot in the way of ultra-smart grooming and as we have already advocated last week on FashionBeans, it’s time to perfect the slick side parting over just-got-out-of-bed vagrant chic.
If you are still rocking a quiff then it should be sharp and preened. However, don’t be afraid to opt for a closely shaved head through spring/summer; I’ve taken the plunge many a time with a grade one and never regretted it. The stereotypical ‘jarhead’ cut is authentic, edgy, rugged and easy to maintain – what more could you ask for?
The likes of Meadham Kirchhoff and Prada pioneered the moustache in recent shows, and whilst it’s pretty difficult to pull off, those who can should embrace it with open arms.
The recent trend for stubble and short beards isn’t the epitome of the clean-cut soldier, but they do ensure a more traditionally masculine look. If you appear about ten years old post-shave, like yours truly, stick to what is most flattering for your image.
After last season’s loose fits and relaxed loungewear, it’s time to up the ante with a more hardened, military approach for the transitional period. The opening months of the year are always dreary (both in weather and general mood), so make an extra effort to exude the gleaming appearance of your favourite war hero.
You might not be any good with a sniper rifle, but you’ll sure as hell look sharp.