Military clothing is known for its utility and timeless, utilitarian styles. Military styles are basic, yet distinctive, since they were designed to emphasize the solidarity that keeps troops fighting hard when the battle goes the other direction. When looking out and seeing the swath of identically dressed troops fighting alongside, a soldier can gain confidence that would ordinarily not be there. The distinctive look of virtually all uniforms is a point of pride, and as such uniforms receive respect among military members that even a sharp suit does not.
For example, military clothing and uniforms have a strict code that determines exactly how they are to be worn. Creases must be ironed into pants and shirts, and these creases often have exact dimensions and must be an exact distance from seams and other clothing features. Shoes must be polished to a high degree and everything must be entirely free of wrinkles. Clothing must fit perfectly, and must be worn in such a way that seams line up the same way on every person. For example, American military uniforms often have what is called a “gig line” which is the line of buttons from the shirt collar, extending all the way down through the belt, and must be aligned perfectly with the trouser zipper.
All this emphasis on perfection might seem like a waste of time or even counter-productive to the actual point of the military, but the reasons are more subtle. The attention to detail and discipline required to maintain a uniform in such a way that it will pass inspection is a valuable skill that carries over into many other aspects of life, military or civilian. An engineer designing a bridge or a bomb technician disarming a bomb or a flight crew member executing a safety procedure all need to know how to be exact, precise and pay attention to things that might not seem important at the time.
The emphasis on attention to detail also means that the troops all see themselves as a part of a larger unit, and this provides courage on the battlefield. Military life both fosters and requires a sort of “us-against-them” mentality, and the thought that your fellow soldiers have been through what you have, and have your back no matter what is reassuring when death is close.
What this means for civilians interested in military clothing is that the fashions you’ll find are attractive, yet understated. The looks of coats such as the M-65 jacket are instantly recognizable, but not garishly so. Military fashion cuts through fads, and looks good even when other styles come and go.