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Military style clothing is ever-present in menswear. In fact, many staple pieces owe their designs to the armed forces: Field jackets, trench coats, cargo pants and even chinos began life in the army, and were originally designed for function first and foremost.
Today, designers regularly delve into the regimental style archives for inspiration and mil-spec garments are never far away from their mood boards. The recent fall 2022 menswear shows are a prime example, as the likes of Hermès, Louis Vuitton, Prada and Loewe turned to classic military garb, reinventing them in pastel shades and oversized silhouettes. Then there are the OGs of utilitarian gear, like Carhartt to The Real McCoy’s, whose collections purpose-built designs regularly cross over to the wardrobes of style-minded civilians. Whether it’s a fashion-forward riff or an authentic reproduction you’re looking to enlist to your arsenal, these are the military-inspired pieces to buy now.
Asket Work Shirt
You don’t have to look far to notice the influence of military clothing on menswear – it can be found with fabric and color as well as design. Take workwear garments like Asket’s chore jacket, which has been given the army surplus treatment with military-grade cotton twill and a tactical olive drab shade.
Carhartt WIP Cargo Pants
With a relaxed fit and two large flap pockets, these Carhartt cargos aren’t too dissimilar to military-issued pairs used by the US Army for decades. The double layer at the knees adds a further functional element, while the hard-wearing, 8.25-ounce cotton fabric is as rugged as it gets.
Valstar Suede Bomber Jacket
Few transitional jackets are as easy to wear as the bomber. They come in many variations, and might just be military wear’s greatest export. Valstar’s Valstarino model is based on the US Air Force’s A-1 style, with its buttoned front, twin pleated pockets and funnel neck. Lightweight and made from soft suede, it’s the perfect accompaniment to jeans and desert boots.
Maison Margiela Trench Coat
Trench coats, named after the trenches in which they were originally worn, have been around the military in various forms since the turn of the 20th century. The traditional double-breasted front, belted waist and calf length cuts an imposing silhouette, especially when finished with epaulets and broad lapels like this example from Maison Margiela.
Clarks Desert Boots
The obvious military footwear choice might be a laced derby boot on a commando sole. But, for something softer and easier for every day, desert boots are a fine choice. First coming to prominence in WWII, this distinctive style is usually crafted in a soft suede like these classic Clarks, updated with a crepe wedge sole.
RRL Field Jacket
Field jackets have been used by the military since the start of the second World War, favored for their multiple pockets and durable fabrics, which could take a beating while remaining lightweight and breathable. RRL’s cotton-ripstop Thacker jacket is no different, and it’s even been pre-washed for that authentic, lived-in look and feel.
The Real McCoy’s A-2 Suede Bomber Jacket
The Real McCoy’s is known for its incredibly accurate reproductions—a great resource for the real deal of numerous military and workwear classics. Its A-2 bomber is painstakingly made to the exact specifications of WWII era jackets, so expect a slightly cropped, relaxed fit and details including shoulder epaulets, a pointed collar and front flap pockets.
Prada Re-Nylon Combat Pants
Prada has long played on the trappings of traditional uniforms, giving them a subtle edge. Such is the case with these combat pants crafted from recycled nylon, complete with buckled pockets and cuffed hems—great for amping up off-duty tees and sneakers.
Private White VC x Tenue Shirt
Taking its inspiration from the CPO (chief petty officer) shirt, originally issued to the US Army in the ‘30s, Private White’s shirt features two buttoned chest pockets that characterize the style, making it a functional layering piece. It’s also handmade in Italy—far more luxe than the standard issue.
IWC Pilot Spitfire Watch
Before the advent of technology, watches were an essential tool for pilots. Distinguished by large, high contrast numerals for easy visibility and durable cotton straps, which were long enough to be worn over heavy outerwear back in the day, pilot watches have a rugged look that works with everything from jeans to linen suits.
Stone Island Bomber Jacket
This Stone Island bomber takes inspiration from the MA-1, a flight jacket issued to US forces in the ‘50s and ‘60s. It comes in a hard-wearing performance fabric with knitted cuffs and hem, just like you’d find on the originals.
Louis Vuitton Padded Blouson
With its large chest pockets and relaxed fit, this Louis Vuitton padded jacket clearly owes its design to old-school CPOs. But it’s been taken in a more contemporary direction with its monogram pattern and elasticated hem, making it more suit to the streets than the trenches.