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Alice Fisher on style: the military look

Military influence on fashion is so pervasive that we are almost blind to it. Peacoats and greatcoats, lace-up boots and regulation grey T-shirts: no one thinks of the soldiers who originally used them as they hoik them out of their wardrobe. Probably best.

But the influence of nautical, safari and combat is going to be hard to ignore this year, as there’s so damn much of it. If that makes you feel a bit sad, then don’t be. Why not think of it as a season of big shiny buttons, lovely roomy pockets and pretty camouflage patterns instead? See? Better already.

The military feel this time round is much more Private Benjamin than GI Jane. More Kate Bush than All Saints. It’s about turning dress uniforms into nice dresses and wearing them with lots and lots of gold. It’s about the chic, casualwear potential of cargo pants and sweatshirts rather than their utilitarian origins.

On the spring catwalk, Marc Jacobs’s show was the most memorable of the military-inspired collections, mainly because he turned his models into an army. They wore matching blunt-cut bob wigs and no make-up – except for the same burgundy shade of nail polish on their toes. Jason Wu sent some of the best camo prints down the catwalk and Ralph Lauren did a dress that was half fatigues, half ballgown. He honestly did. Take a look at the final look of his spring show online.

The high street has embraced the military look, too. Warehouse has very nice shirt dresses, and pretty much anything you can think of is available in khaki this spring. Asos already has a product section devoted to the colour because so many of its brands have churned out everything from jackets to culottes in this standard military shade.

If you do want to update your wardrobe with very little effort, khaki is the way to do it. My advice is to buy from the darker, muddier end of the palette. Save the pale, sandy desert shades for when you’ve got a tan later on. After the disgusting weather we’ve had recently, I’ve got my eye on this Gap utility jacket. Look at that funnel neck – I dream of shoving my chin down into it.

If you have more money to spend, then check out American brand NLST (it’s pronounced “enlist”, obvs). The designs are inspired by army surplus but recreated in women’s sizes and made out of cashmere and luxury fabrics sourced from Japan. Yeah, I know, but if you can afford a well-made, well-cut M43 jacket or a hand-knitted camouflage jumper, then why not?

Unlike the soldiers of Desert Storm or those who fought in the Somme, 2015’s military look is accessorised by minimalist gold jewellery and chunky sandals. If you want some vaguely weapon-like jewellery, look at the Straight to the Heart range by Elkin London. The arrowhead/dagger designs are suitably fierce.

Then it’s job done. War may be hell, but shopping for a warlike look needn’t be.

Follow Alice on Instagram @aliceefisher

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