a woman in military fashion outfit is posing on a street
Photo: Joshua Chun

Fashion is a peculiar thing. It always resembles the current social and political state of the society, the personality of the person, and even his current state of mood. Just like any other fashion style, military fashion appeared as a need, or as a reflection, which leads to a whole movement of trends and styles. So today, with the help of Wayrates, we are going to learn more about the military fashion style. How it originated, how it inspires designers, and what are the main characteristics of this style. 

The Origins of Military Fashion as Trend

The real origins behind the military fashion style are pretty much on the surface, as it was obviously inspired by the standardized uniform worn by the armed forces. The fashion period between the Great World War and World War II was characterized by the massive militarization of society. Both men and women used military uniforms as soldiers, later using them in daily life. Let's don't forget about the clothes rationing, which made it almost impossible to go back to casual fashion

Another reason behind the popularity of military fashion lies in its overall comfort and versatility. Unlike pre-war fashion, everyday army and tactical clothing were usually made from affordable materials. It was also more durable and comfortable than most high fashion suits and gowns of that time. Therefore most people preferred simple but stylish military-inspired clothing over posh and expensive looks.

Although military fashion was mainly inspired by the military lifestyle and army uniforms, it is not strictly tied to the soldierly heritage. Huntsmen, fishermen, ecology and field researcher, environmentalist, and conservationist: all of them wear military attire in addition to members of the army.

men and woman wearing military outfits and posing to the camera
Photo: Dami Adebayo

The Main Characteristics of Military Fashion 

Military fashion is based on practicality and simplicity. It is never about the visual appeal, however, it doesn't lack one, but is more about personal comfort. From the iconic camouflage print and aviator sunglasses to combat boots, polycotton tees, and tactical cargo pants — every item from a soldier's wardrobe can be useful in civilian life as well. 

The most iconic feature of any military piece is its distinctive "protective" coloring. All shades of green, earthy tones (known as khaki), taupe, grays, blacks, and deep blues (for navies) are the staple colors for military fashion. Such colors merge with the colors of the surroundings, hiding the soldier from unwanted attention. Another iconic feature is, previously mentioned, camouflage print. Each country has its own officially issued camouflage colors and patterns. However, these rules do not apply to the military-inspired fashion we are used to seeing on streets and catwalks.

a collage with four military-isnpired high fashion outfits

Military High Fashion

During and after the war, the presence of all things military has inspired designers all around the world to create military-inspired collections. From Giorgio Armani to Yves Saint Laurent, Cristian Dior, and other designers, all of them tried to use military thematic in their new shows. In the book "Military Style Invades Fashion" by Timothy Godbold, you can learn more about what is military style and how it slowly left a long-lasting impression on our lives.

Today we can still feel the presence of military fashion in a form of frequently re-emerging trends. Fashion houses don't seem to stop reviving this style, and I love that it doesn't go out of fashion. The recent collections by Celine, Sacai, Rokh, Hermès, and Altuzarra have brought back some of my favorite military colors and silhouettes, which proves the relevance of the style.

woman wearing stylish military outfit is posing sitting on a track
Photo: Dillon Kydd

Not about the Statement?

There is a certain correlation between military fashion as a trend and as a political statement. Obviously, throughout the first half of the 20th century wearing a military uniform always meant that the wearer belonged to a certain social group, or went through the military period of life. Later, the military aviator jacket was adopted as a trend, washing out the previously generally accepted foundations and meanings behind a certain attire.

In the 21st century, military fashion has become an everlasting classic. The visual simplicity, and ideological complexity behind the look, a mixture of femininity and masculinity, which combines into one, gender-neutral exterior. All of these factors make the military fashion an isolated, yet approachable style. I know, it may sound very confusing, but it is exactly how I feel about it, and I love this uncertain feeling. And what are your thoughts? Do you think it is possible to see the personality through the camouflaged layers of military fashion, or does it leave a heavy impression on a person who wears it?

Lots of love,