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Flashback: How Camouflage Clothing Became a Fashion Trend

Flashback: How Camouflage Clothing Became a Fashion Trend

The history of the interconnected relationship between military camouflage and fashion is perpetual. Season after season it floods runways and fills closets, but why? Maybe because the first creators of camouflage were artists and designers. Maybe because we love the ease and functionality of tactical clothing. Or maybe we just like to feel in charge. Whatever the reason, tactical clothing has been a long been a fascination in the fashion industry.

A soldier’s uniform stands for allegiance and honor. It denotes branch, rank, and title. But when it comes to camouflage, it means more. It can mean the difference between life and death on the battlefield. So, how did clothing intended to be invisible become a fashion staple? Let’s look at the history.

Brief History of Camouflage

There are few inventions as revolutionary to military uniforms as camouflage—which became a staple during the WWI era. Militaries first used camouflage patterning to hide, not people, but locations and equipment. When machine guns, trench warfare, and aerial photography emerged, France, as well as England, Germany, and the United States, abandoned the traditional, brighter uniform colors, and opted for a muted olive drab color. They began developing low-visibility uniforms and even formed a camouflage unit, called camofleurs, made up of people who were artists and designers in their regular lives.

In 1940, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers started experimenting with camouflage uniforms and by 1943, U.S. Marines started wearing reversible beach coveralls with a “frog” pattern of green and brown. But by the end of WWII, camo lost favor once more. Select units of the Army continued to experiment with and wear camouflage throughout the 20th century, but the first official camouflage uniform didn’t emerge until the mid-’80s.

From Field to Fashion

As early as 1943, Vogue magazine picked up on the field trends and incorporated it into the fashion world. It basically just explained what military camouflage was to Vogue readers and its main function. It wasn’t until 1971 when the next article came and featured a trend collage on camo with images of girls dressed in the tactical gear. The camo craze really exploded in the 1980s, when hunters and civilians started sporting all types of green, tan, and brown apparel. The American military campaigns in Lebanon and Grenada are credited for the emerging trend, and many think it exploded due to people’s pride in their country.

Today, camouflage clothing is available in all shapes, colors, and styles—on everything from lingerie to shoes. Mainstream designers, like Christian Dior and Moschino have created camo couture. It’s really quite the fashion statement.

Camouflage has been used throughout history to hide or conceal. It’s intended to be invisible, but fashion has taken it and re-appropriated it to speak loudly.

Check out how camouflage has been worn throughout the years.

1917 camouflage

1917 World War I Soldier modeling early camouflage.

1940s camouflage

1940s - World War II era uniform

vietnam era camouflage

Vietnam era - Army's Engineer Research and Development Lab-made camouflage pattern

1981 army uniform

1981 Army - Woodland Camouflage Uniform

2004 army uniform

2004 Army Combat Uniform

2015 Army Combat Uniform

2015 Army Combat Uniform

Camouflage Fashion Trend - Street Style

street style camouflage

Celebrities rocking the camouflage street style trend

             Moschino Fashion Week 2017  Moschino Fashion Week 2017

Camouflage on the Runway - Moschino Fashion Week 2017

Camouflage in Stores

Camo M65 Jacket - Top Rank

urban outfitters camouflage coat

Alpha Industries + UO Liner Jacket

ROIAL Camo Joggers

ROIAL Camo Joggers

Fleck Camo Hooded Jacket - Top Rank

Ashley Mason Camo Patch Jacket

Ashley Mason Camo Patch Jacket

Polo Ralph Lauren Thermal Shirt

Polo Ralph Lauren Camo Thermal Shirt

The Quick and Easy Guide to Men's Overcoats

The Quick and Easy Guide to Men's Overcoats

Fleece coats or puffy jackets may be warm and popular, but they’re not exactly the most stylish winter wardrobe staple. For the fashion-forward men out there, overcoats are what’s in.

The overcoat—a heavy, lengthy, collared outerwear piece—is a classic element to a man’s wardrobe. Not only will it keep you warm, but it will also add a sophisticated and flattering aspect to your aesthetic. It looks good and it feels good.

The overcoat is the one piece of outerwear that can go all the way from a casual night at the bar to a black tie affair. It projects a confident, classy, and courtly demeanor, while simultaneously enhancing your silhouette. As long as you pick the right one, an overcoat can be the only winter outerwear you need.

What defines a quality overcoat?

A quality overcoat is one that is comfortable, warm, and well-fitting. These characteristics depend on a variety of factors, but mostly:

 

quality overcoats

FABRIC

For an overcoat to be warm and long lasting, it’s best to buy one made of 100% wool. While other fabrics, like cashmere or fleece, are soft and cozy, they do not stand up to the elements as well. Remember, this is outerwear. It doesn’t need to be soft and smooth. Search for an overcoat that weighs around 4 pounds; the heavier the coat, the more durable it will be.

FIT

A well-fitting overcoat will completely cover suit sleeves and shirt cuffs and fit semi-snug, allowing room for clothing underneath. Most coats fall between just above the knee and ankle length. The shorter the coat, the more it tends to highlight your figure. Full-length coats often complement a wider variety of figures by lengthening the body and draping over problem areas. Those with more trim builds often embrace the shorter fit.

CONSTRUCTION

A sewn canvas (rather than a fused canvas) is most durable and breathable. It is pricier than a fused canvas, but will withstand the test of time, whereas a fused canvas interlining can come loose after awhile from wear and tear.

STYLE

Here is where creativity and personality come into place. Choose the length and fit you find most stylish and complementary of your body type. There are single-breasted or double-breasted, 3-button or 4-button, belted or unbelted overcoats. Double-breasted and 4-button styles sway more on the formal side, while single-breasted and 3-button styles are better for everyday wear. Black, navy blue, and gray tend to be the most versatile colors, and unbelted overcoats offer a sleeker appearance. Aim for something timeless, and you won’t be disappointed.

Most of all, a quality overcoat will feel just right when you put it on.

The overcoat is a wise winter wardrobe investment. You’ll get years of wear out of it and truly step up your style game every time you put it on. Just be sure to read the care instructions attentively and treat it as the intelligent investment it is. Here are a few tips to keep it in pristine condition:

  • Hang it on a heavy wood or other sturdy hanger to support its shoulders. Allow it to have some space to lay freely.
  • Clean off any stains immediately by blotting with cool water. Do not rub, as it may deepen the stain.
  • Dry clean about once a year (or less) at the end of the cold season.
  • Brush with a soft lint brush to remove any lint, fuzz, soil, or other matter after wear.

Shop of our favorite overcoat styles:

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