Getting into #armystyle – part 2

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If you missed the first instalment of this gripping series on #armystyle, you can find it here. This is part 2 and whereas the first part covered a little background and gave you the simple rule of keeping the obviously army items to a single piece, this part will look at what is obviously army and how we can work around this limitation.

There’s really only two ways you can take an “army” garment and make it non-army:

  1. Make it in a different colour or fabric
  2. Keep the colour or fabric and make a different garment

Pretty easy logic really. Perhaps the most common of variant 1 is all the jackets around that are more of less direct copies of the standard M65 field jacket, but varying videly in colours and fabrics, from tweed to Gore-tex. The most common type of variant 2 is probably all the camouflage patterns we see in streetwear these days.

I realise you’re no doubt visualising all this strongly, but let’s take a look at a few examples from my collection.

Original look Army style

First of all you have either original issue army gear, or replicas of the same. Plain army style, really. You can either find original surplus pieces, which tend to be incredibly cheap (and depending on how they’ve been stored, potentially quite musty) or reproductions of originals. These tend to be made in Japan, be of extremely high quality, and also on the far side of expensive. On the plus side they smell nice and new. It’s worth considering that original army garments were made to withstand harsh machine washing though, so stick that surplus jacket in the washer with lots of nice detergent and you’ll soon have it nice and fresh.

My collection is not large on the original army gear, for reasons mentioned in part one. I do have this original M-43 field jacket. This is the Norwegian army version of what is arguably the first version of the modern field jacket. Button-up only, solidly made and the forerunner of the rest of the M-jackets, culminating in the iconic M-65. Follow the link above for a fuller article about this jacket. Due to the bulkiness of the original jackets, I find they look best with a wool sweater underneath. If buying a repro jacket you’ll probably size down and go for a more fitted look.

The second piece I’d like to show you in this category is the OG-107 utility shirt. OG-107 was the code given the basic US Army utility uniform from 1952 to 1989. OG stands for Olive Green, so it’s a given what you’re getting here. The earlier 107 garments were all cotton and this is what most will have seen when watching Vietnam era material. I spent some time looking for a good shirt like this and they are still widely available, even in 40 year old vintage. My shirt though? Japanese repro by way of Uniqlo for a very reasonable price. Looks good with a t-shirt underneath, worn as a light jacket.

Army style in a different colour

Now let’s take a look at what happens when you take a military design, but change the colour or fabric into something quite different.

Firstly, the classic CPO shirt. OK, so it’s not an army design, but a naval one. CPO stands for Chief Petty Officer and the CPO is a staple among designs, with the large square chest pockets. This one is pretty classic of look, but when rendered in a blue herringbone Harris Tweed, it becomes very different to what it would be in an olive or navy blue cotton twill. I reviewed this one here.

The second example is one of my very favourite jackets. The style brings to mind the WW2 Battle Blouse style, with the short body and huge chest pockets. This variant, the ‘CDO-jacket’ by Mister Freedom, has changed the olive wool or cotton fabric to a thick navy wool melton for the main fabric and a 16oz cotton twill for the pockets and details. The inside is lined with a camo fabric, though thankfully that is rarely seen. The result is a jacket that is not obviously military of nature, but if you like the battleshirt style, you’ll really like it. Christophe Loiron, the owner and designer at Mister Freedom keeps a blog where he details the ideas for his designs and the CDO is written up here.

 

For part 3, I’ll look at the third variant, where most will think of the garment as army in some way, even though the design is entirely civilian. Exiting?

 

 

 

 

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