I’ve been wearing a lot of military or military-inspired clothing lately. Maybe it’s because I follow Nigel Cabourn on Instagram, or I’m trending towards more over-sized, comfy clothes as I’m getting older, or I just really like green. You could say quite a bit of menswear comes from the military. From the humble t-shirt to the iconic Burberry trench to the grandpa cardigan, you’ll find that men are actually walking around in clothes rooted in warfare and don’t even know it.
There’s already some fantastic guides on the internet about the common military styles and I’m not about to give you a history lesson or even a comprehensive guide on military wear (that would take up chapters!). I’m just going to write about some of the styles I’ve been admiring lately.
The ubiquitous MA-1
Just about every man and his dog is wearing a MA-1 jacket at the moment. Also commonly called a “bomber jacket”, you can pick one up from Alpha Industries if you want a “real deal” original cut which is probably much puffier and not stylish enough for most people’s tastes. Virtually any brand/designer makes a slim version in 2017. The really interesting designs I’m digging at the moment and you still don’t see everyday on the street are the sukajan or “souvenir” versions. These are copies of the embroidered military jackets that servicemen used to buy during their overseas posts in Asia to take home. The usual souvenir jackets tend to be very colourful and loud and I find them personally difficult to pull off. But Big Trouble store just recently got in some stock from Edwin which are a bit toned down and much more wearable.
The field jacket
The M-65 might be common but there’s a reason for this. It’s flattering for most guys, matches up well with a lot of other clothes, practical with all those pockets and zipped away hood, and light enough that it is useful for layering. I have a M-65 which I randomly picked up from the Ralph Lauren outlet at DFO for not very much (it was the last one and some other guy was eyeing it but I got to it first). It’s from the denim & supply line which is not the fanciest but it seems pretty sturdy. If I had unlimited funds I’d probably get the one from the Real McCoy’s or go hunting for that cool flowery-lined one from Gant. I’ve also been coveting a M-43 jacket ever since I saw a picture of Bruce Boyer in one but they are surprisingly hard to find. I settled for my EG Bedford jacket which is arguably more wearable but the M-43 styled jacket still catches my attention. I like the slightly dressier lapels and the way it layers with other clothes. I also have a M-59 fishtail parka which I sort of regret buying because it is the urban outfitters x alpha industries one which is a bit slim and I have looser/fatter tastes now. You can also get the original directly from Alpha Industries. The other thing I like about a boxier fit is that you can fit a layer underneath like a cardigan, vest, jumper/sweater or sportcoats/blazer.
(Just a side note the numbers denote the year the jacket first comes from so m-65 is 1965, m-43 is 1943 etc. so you can deduce which war each of these jackets come from).
The N-1 deck jacket
This one attracted me because I like shearling collars/lining and the ones from Buzz Rickson’s and Real McCoy’s look really really cool. In reality I’d probably never buy one because it’s much too warm for Australia most of the year (also they’re bloody expensive). I’ve got a heavy Schott peacoat which I picked up secondhand which gets maybe 2 weeks wear per year.
Olive fatigue pants are cool. The original cut is quite wide so you can get some slimmer versions. I like mine straight cut and high waisted like the originals. EG has an expensive one and Stan Ray is quite a bit cheaper. I also have a pair of vintage high waisted wool ones from WWII which are too warm 95% of the year but goddamn are they cool. They look less like homie-G pants if you pinroll them or roll them so they are a bit highwater. These generally go well with workwear or streetwear. I don’t usually go for the full olive pants and olive jacket military look so I’ll usually have denim on top or bottom. You can also wear them with a button up shirt and unstructured sportcoats/blazer and the high waist actually looks quite good but I only do it on a cool day because if you remove the jacket it looks oddly proportioned with a tucked in shirt.
I’ve also been recommended a tank jacket recently which I think is a cool look, similar to the MA-1 shape but not so common. Big Trouble also has a “corporal souvenir jacket” which is really cool. And of course, I have been hunting a good trench coat for about forever now. I let an awesome vintage Grenfell trench slip away from me in an eBay auction and have never seen another…