Getting into #armystyle – part 1

Ever alert to emerging trends, finger on the fashion pulse and garrulously gazing at garments, I can’t help but note that army-inspired style appears to be totally on trend this season. Much like they are every season really, more or less. Probably a little more really, as a quick recce through H&M shows that they are hopped up on olive and camo in various shapes and forms. Oddly, mostly for the ladies, as far as I can tell. . And while I would normally go to great lengths to correctly report the absolutely best intel to my dear readers, I feel that going into further fast fashion outlets to confirm this is beyond the call of duty.

I’d like to make a couple of points first:

  • I can’t brag about having a long and exciting military career, but I did my year of incredibly boring national service. One thing this instilled in me was that wearing a field uniform and boots every day is neither stylish or very cool. Hence I may be a little more critical that some in my outlook when it comes to army style.
  • Another point is that while the army certainly can claim a fair amount of style, and puts a lot of effort into developing their gear, given the number of armed conflicts ongoing and the number of refugees in the world, not everyone you meet will appreciate you dressing up in army garb looking like you’re off to armed conflict.

Over the years though various aspects of military style keep popping up, from naval jackets to field pants, from olive through khaki to a plethora of camouflage. Some is aimed at the actual needs of hunters, other at the super on-point street-wear kids, and as it trickles down, even regular folks are donning it. So how do you make it work?

I have distilled it down to one single rule: Only wear one piece of army gear at a time. By army gear I mean obviously army gear. Think your traditional ex-army, surplus olive gear. If it’s a different colour, it’s not army. If it’s olive, but not of army origin, it’s not army. A nice simple rule, right?

Now a couple of things inspired me to write this series of posts (fear not, this is the first, you’ve not missed out). The first was buying an olive army style shirt last summer. This turned out to be a total piece of shit and I wrote about my disappointing experience with the brand (John Elliott). The second point of inspiration was seeing a photo on Instagram described as “#armystyle”. I’m not going to name names, as the guy looks really friendly (and also like someone who likes guns and looks can be deceptive), but here is the redacted version:

Now to me this has gone far beyond any sartorial sense and into the land of “preppers”, militia and living in an improvised camp in the woods, waiting for the world to go crazy. This is basically an army work uniform, and hence four items outside my rule. Can the rule be stretched? In some cases I think it might be acceptable, say the overshirt with t-shirt, but no more than that. The shoes I would not accept under any circumstances, but I may suffer from a condition where ugly shoes with a camouflage pattern make me queasy.

So, after an intro that has pretty much used up the available space for today, let me get round to what I was going to bring forth as the first example of what I consider a workable outfit. Yes, it’s back to the OG-107 Vietnam era style workshirt. This one I found last week in Uniqlo. I have been on the lookout for an original shirt, but have yet to find the compelling combination of good condition and an acceptable shipping rate. So for now it’s the 25 pounds High Street reproduction for me. Mixed with a solid colour t-shirt, a pair of baggy, vintage style trousers and Red Wing Supersoles boots, it makes enough of a statement.

Stay tuned for the next instalment of the #armystyle guide!


  • Keith Douglas 25/04/2017 at 13:54

    As a younger Park Ranger I did a lot of physical work in the great outdoors, and good, tough, outdoor clothes at a reasonable price were hard to find. So I always bought army surplus shirts and trousers. However, I have always avoided any clothing in camo, as I do not hunt, and tend to associate men in camo with weird loners. As a middle aged chap, I have a couple of green Fjällraven jackets, but avoid anything of an army style, it just feels inappropriate, even for a Park Ranger.

  • Michael Newman 25/04/2017 at 15:39

    Sooo.. this won’t be a good look then?

    PS. It’s not a real gun. Honest.

    • nick 26/04/2017 at 13:58

      I think that would depend a bit on whether you were involved in military operations in Desert Storm, or just nipping down to the local Tesco in Rochdale 🙂

  • wobbly-jelly 25/04/2017 at 22:49

    The American Navy peacoats are great – but there are more colours, khaki or camo (DPM) is more modern – well 100 ish years – before that more colours for day to day wear, not just dress uniforms – how about an Adam Any Hussar jacket?

    But I’ll keep my “mod” Arctic parka

  • Getting into #armystyle – part 2 – Well Dressed Dad 15/05/2017 at 14:16

    […] 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 […]

  • Getting into #armystyle – part 3 – Well Dressed Dad 26/05/2017 at 10:49

    […] of my #armystyle guide. If you missed the first instalment of this gripping series, you can find it here, this part covered a little background and gave you the simple rule of keeping the obviously army […]


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