Military Issue

There’s something about this mild weather we’ve had in SF recently that makes me gravitate towards a few central pieces of my wardrobe; pieces that don’t have any strong seasonal connotations, and are easy to grab for when the weather isn’t too warm or too cold (i.e. most days in San Francisco). I also noticed another similarity shared by these pieces, besides their versatility – all have a history as military garments. I figured I would highlight these pieces together for this reason; wearing them all at the same time might be a bit much, but then again they’ve all become such a normal part of civilian clothing that I doubt anyone would look twice. Here are some of my most frequently used garments with roots in the military, and the histories behind them:

M-65 jackets. this Vietnam-era jacket has more or less become synonymous with the term ‘field jacket,’ and it can be found in a myriad of styles and prices, from vintage military garments to crazy designer pieces. You can see my roundup of my favorite M-65s here. The one above is the Bouquet Garni by GANT, which is no longer available.

Aviators. When most people think of aviator glasses, they think of the rounded shape made popular by Ray-Ban; however, the more historically accurate shape is the one shown above. They’re very similar, with the exception that these feature a more rectangular shaped caused by the “clipped” bottom. This shape allows the glasses to fit easily above a fighter pilot’s air mask, which is pretty badass. There are two great sources for authentic, made-in-the-USA aviators: American Optical and Randolph Engineering. AO used to hold the government contract for aviator glasses, and RE currently does. Both make solid frames at slightly different price points.

Breton Shirts.  Bretons were traditionally worn by the sailors of Brittany, and the striped shirt eventually found its way into the French naval uniform. Coco Chanel popularized the style among the non-military folks, and these days it can be found pretty much everywhere. The classic maker of Bretons is Saint James; the one pictured above is from Uniqlo.

Chinos. These began as part of the British Army’s uniform in the mid-1800s, and about a hundred years later they began to gain popularity with civilians. The pair shown above is an old pair of J. Crew “Bowery” trousers; they started out as a dressy pair of chinos, but over time they’ve broken in well and have retired to casual use. At ease, soldier.

Chukkas. Desert boots are a particular style of chukka boot, and they are credited to the British forces in WWII. Chukka boots are some of the most versatile shoes you can own, whether you plan on getting involved in a tactical military strike or just going to the grocery store. You can see my roundup of chukka boots here.

What’s your favorite military-inspired piece?