Answer the trivia below about Flanking Fashion.
Whether you’re a red-blooded conservative or a peace-loving beatnik or like most of us fall somewhere in between, one thing is remains constant: military fashion is here to stay. Don’t think it’s true? Turn on any television or brows through any fashion site on the internet and chances are high that you are going to see a tip of the hat to military inspired fashion. From the sunglasses Don Draper can’t do without in the hit television series ‘Mad Men’ (for the record, they’re American Optics – the same glasses worn by pilots in the US military) to the military-inspired cargo pants Jesse Pinkman mopes around in ‘Breaking Bad’.
Take a trip through any mall in America and you’re sure to see knock-offs of M-65 jackets and British forces pants in stores like GAP and American Eagle. It’s no longer a trend and hasn’t been for a while. The military look is here to stay. If you’re saying to yourself, “How can I pull this look off?” The good news is, you probably already have without even realizing it.
The Shirt:. Unless you walk around the office all day wearing a suit jacket, your shirt is arguably the clothing item most people are going to be looking at during the day and it’s the perfect way to slip some of this fashion trend into your ready-to-wear collection. For men, picking a simple dress shirt with epaulettes that flatters the line of the body is key. French and Italian military shirts are great for this for a couple of reasons. First of all they come in an array of colors perfect for fall – an array of blues, and khakis – and secondly the line of the shirt is very smart. Dress down the look with jeans and sneakers or step it up with khakis and a tie and you’ve got a look that tells everyone without a shadow of a doubt – you’re the guy in charge,
No fear ladies, you have not been left out of the mix here. If you’re thinking that dressing in military fashion means looking like a box, you’re wrong. Believe it or not, forces around the globe have added in all kinds of wonderful details that actually serve to enhance and take into consideration your feminine curves and features. Try a khaki utility shirt from none other than the United States Marine Corps (pictured) and you’ll get a shirt that includes such thoughtful details as a slightly rounded collar to vertical darts that closely follow the feminine shape. This eliminates a more boxy straight cut that is prevalent in some shirts and means that the shirt can be worn without the fear of looking like a telephone pole. Team this with a skirt – from micro to a classic pencil – and you have a look that is sassy yet still classic.
The Pant: Start with the casual. For both men and women, a pair of BDU pants (stands for Battle Dress Uniform and basically means the pants that are worn everyday when not in a dress uniform) does the trick quickly and easily. Go with a retro look and choose olive-colored pants with a nice straight and slim cut from the 60’s through the 70’s or go a little more fashion forward and choose a camo pattern from anywhere in the world. Look like a fashionista with patterns from Britain, Germany or stay stateside with a vintage woodland pattern. If you want the look of a classic cargo in a solid color and packed with fantastic features – pick the Canadian Combat pant (pictured). The solid olive is combined with oversized pockets perfect for carrying all of life’s treasures. The fabric is lighter weight and has built in moisture wicking abilities. Whether taking a hike in the country or traversing the urban landscape, these pants have you covered in style.
If dressier is your choice then your choices are huge. Start with the khaki. Who did khaki’s first? The military. Choose from vintage US khakis and look sharp with nice straight lines and fabric that has lasted the test of time. For a khaki with a slight pleat and a European flair, the French have you covered. Take a big step fashion-forward and choose a dark colored dress pant with a bold contrasting stripe running down the side. This is the pant that says you are in charge, without you ever uttering a word.
Outerwear: Looking to be the very definition of tough-as-nails counter culture? Channeling the spirit of Robert De Niro’s iconic character Travis Bickle from Taxi Driver? Military fashion has you covered. From the historical M-65 jacket that was Travis’ staple to the Canadian Combat Jacket (pictured), step out in style. This category can literally be summed up as – so many choices, so little time. You’re no clone, so why should what you wear be a copy of what everyone else has adorning their back? Go off the cuff with a long parka with a new age digital pattern such as the Desert Night Parka (pictured) and turn up the stealth attitude in your style. The Spanish Combat Shirt (pictured) in a beautiful shade of khaki can be belted and teamed with a stylish skirt or leggings for a sexy look for women that shows just how much you can Shock and Awe. Wear a lightweight field jacket over a simple olive v-neck shirt (a Canadian forces staple) and declare casual freedom.
Footwear: While taking a casual stroll through John Varvatos’ phenomenal new retail location in the former icon CBGB, I spied a pair of beautiful vintage jungle boots. The $300 price tag made my wallet cringe but luckily I already knew that the price tag in that boutique wasn’t what the average consumer had to pay. Combat boots are the ultimate fashion statement. Worn covertly under a pair of boots or screaming loud and proud teamed with a skirt, you simply must have a pair in your wardrobe. It’s the biggest look out this fall. Go with the originals and you will be investing in footwear designed to last through whatever life can throw at it. Triple stitching details, quality leather and an almost limitless selection of styles means there is a boot out there to fit your look. You won’t have to shell out a paycheck to achieve it either as a good pair of surplus boots start at around $70. Make them your own by switching out the standard laces with brightly colored paracord. It comes in a plethora of colors that you can change as often as you change your mind.
Accessories: Finish off your wardrobe or accent the one you have now with some unexpected flair. Keep your pants around your waist with unique belts from East Germany (remember them?) or the country formerly known as the Soviet Union. Stash your tablet, cell phone and flair in the original messenger bag – a Swiss rucksack (pictured) or re-purpose a vintage gas mask bag from Canada (pictured). Add even more individuality to your wardrobe with a shemagh (pictured). A shemagh is a lightweight scarf used by everyone from the Bedouins to US Special Forces. Add this to your wardrobe and you’ve just added the swagger of Lawrence of Arabia. If you’re digging the combat boots but want to add even more of your own touch – slap on a pair of WWII canvas gaiters (pictured) and you’re walking the streets in style. The icing on the cake? The pinnacle of style, Don Draper’s must-have sunglasses, the American Optics aviators (pictured) can be yours for less than half the price of many designer knock-offs. Available in silver frame, gold frame and regular or polarized lenses, this is the accessory that will never go out of style.
All of these looks can be found at Uncle Sam’s Army Navy Outfitters at 290 Larkin Street in the up-and-coming Larkinville District. They can be reached at 716-852-2769. If you can’t make the trip downtown – everyone needs to shop this massive hidden gem at least once in their lives – you can always turn to the internet and find them at www.armynavydeals.com.
-Photographs courtesy of Cheryl Gorski
Question: What military inspired fashion trend does designer John Varvatos have on display in his new NYC location?