Pick any piece of menswear and there’s a solid chance it’s done a tour in the armed forces. The T-shirt? Issued to sailors as underwear in the late 19th century. Bomber jackets? As the name suggests, designed to keep pilots warm in high altitude cockpits. The trench coat? Now you’re not even trying.
So it’s understandable that military notes pop up every season, be it a slightly missing the point acid camo, à la every Valentino collection, or the field jacket, which emerged as this season’s multi-pocketed, hyper-practical outerwear essential.
So no surprise that the military’s preferred colour palette is equally perennial. It helps that khaki is basically neutral, which means you can pair it with anything. “Khaki looks especially good with black, so dress it down with black denim,” says James Lawrence, head of menswear design at ASOS. White and brown make equally happy bunkmates, if you feel like toeing the parade ground line.
Green’s in-the-ranks heritage also means it’s well-suited to utility wear, hence the proliferation of pockets, zips and campsite fabrics on this season’s greenest pieces. But the colour offers as many applications as shades and, for SS16, designers took those military notes and went AWOL.
Yes, there were the expected M65 jackets, albeit jazzed up with patches and cuts more suited to guys protesting the war than fighting it. “But green was seen on the runway at designers as diverse as Lemaire, Valentino and Yohji Yamamoto,” says Damien Paul, head of menswear at MATCHESFASHION.COM. It appeared on everything from suiting to souvenir jackets to, in Craig Green’s case, patch-pocketed karate coats. And such variety means there’s a plethora of ways to make green less uniform.
Slim Is In
Menswear may be moving in roomier directions, but leave baggy greens in the barracks. “While there is still a strong army fatigue trend, it was also seen as part of slimmer silhouette,” says Paul.
Burberry Prorsum took the shade in a typically suave direction, with figure-hugging suits just green enough to stand apart from your colleagues. Channel the aesthetic with a perfectly tailored two-piece in a warm-weather material like linen or cotton, grounding the look with a sky blue shirt and brown suede shoes.
Turn Over A New Leaf
If your tailoring rotation is looking kind of blue, green is the subtlest way to jazz things up. “Olive green is a great alternative to the ubiquitous navys and greys,” says Giles Farnham, head of River Island style studio.
Because the tone is lesser-spotted, and a touch less formal, you can break afford to break some other rules, too. “Try with a Cuban collar or granddad collar shirt for something that oozes relaxed seasonal style.” That’s two summer trends ticked off without breaking a sweat.
It’s Easy Being Green
Monochrome is always the right choice. But when it’s a touch too sunny for all-black-errrthing – and that barbecue you’re heading to means all-white is off the table – green steps in.
“Khaki is easy to wear and looks great head-to-toe, if you mix different shades,” says Lawrence. When colours can’t clash, experiments in print and shape are suddenly simpler to pull off. Which means the chance to dabble in oversized cuts, or add interesting patterns into the mix.
Simons le 31 2016
Legs Get It On
Green is the perfect base for paler shades because the dark fabric allows whites to pop. Which makes a khaki chino your trainers’ new best friend.
“It’s also an easy way to invest in green without going overboard,” says Farnham, who recommends switching chinos in wherever you’d normally pick denim.
They smarten up well, too. “The neutral tone will match really easily with any shoe, from a white sneaker to a penny loafer.”
Muted greens are an easy wear, but there’s a reason they’re picked for camouflage. If you’re looking to stand out, dabble in something more dazzling.
“Try an emerald green crew neck jumper,” says Farnham. Paired with jeans, a white button-down and a dark jacket the jewel tone catches eyes without people asking where your pot of gold is.
If a sweatshirt’s too much, try the shade in subtler accessories, like a tie, pocket square, or something as simple as your watch strap.
J.Crew October 2015