THERE’S SOMETHING about a uniform. In fact, according to our NYC denizen Nancy McKeon, you can’t walk down one of the city’s streets without seeing a woman clad in an army jacket.
In the late ‘60s, army green declared that the wearer was at war with the powers that were. Think Jane Fonda and John and Oko Lennon in military surplus. Worn to walk the dog in 2020—when it seems we’re always at war—its meaningful connotations are gone. As Marc Jacobs noted at a recent runway show, “Military clothes are part of the fashion vernacular now.”
Slip an army jacket on over a print dress or team with a graphic T-shirt and jeans; wear one over a fisherman knit sweater and midi pleated skirt or pair it with black leather leggings. The color goes a long way to downplaying fashion. Even if you’re wearing the most expensive labels, if it’s army green, it takes it down a decibel. It’s an O blood type item of clothing with a cool silhouette that’s available in prices from Zara’s to Saint Laurent’s. And what it communicates today is utility and a bit of swagger.
At the same time we’re seeing platoons of army jackets, camouflage is also enjoying a revival. Both go in and out of style but inevitably make a comeback. Like olive green, a camo print is easy to wear and versatile, as neutral as an animal print. It’s notable that army jackets and camo pants were favorite looks of fashion icon Jenna Lyons, who just sealed a deal with HBO Max to star in a series called “Stylish with Jenna Lyons,” set to premiere on November 26.
Meanwhile, see our suggestions below for 11 army jackets and how to wear them.
P.S. If you’re inclined to go full bore on military style, there’s a battalion of combat boots for sale online and in stores.
LEFT: A stretchy blend of tencel, cotton and spandex, Canyonlands Utility Jacket ($169, Orvis), even brand new, has that “I’ve been wearing this forever” look. While walking the dog or taking a stroll with friends, stash you essentials in two big patch pockets, a zippered chest pocket and an inside pocket, big enough to accommodate a large cell phone. Pull on the interior drawstring for some waist-defining femininity.
RIGHT: J. Crew’s deep moss-colored Quilted Downtown Field Jacket ($168) will pair just right with your favorite—or any pair—of blue jeans. What’s more, the fabric will keep you cozy when temperatures fall, making it ideal for right-now weather.
LEFT: It may have a camouflage pattern, but this J. Crew Bomber Sweater Jacket (reduced from $158 to $94.80, Nordstrom) will stand out in the crowd—in a good way— for its at-ease vibe.
CENTER: Banana Republic’s olive-green camo Cropped Utility Jacket (reduced from $110 to $77) with its boxy, cropped silhouette is the natural accompaniment to high-rise pants (wide-leg, straight or skinny) or over a knit dress or a high-waist skirt.
RIGHT: We like the screen-printed stars, shoulder epaulettes and frayed hem on this Camilo Jacket ($108, Revolve). Midriff-baring T-shirt not necessary. It’s currently sold out in sizes small and medium, but is being restocked and will be available, according to the website, the beginning of November.
LEFT: It’s not often we see denim in anything but blue or black, so Topshop’s Longline Jacket in military green ($95) gets our attention. There’s only one left in small on the Topshop site but it’s also available on Yoox, the Net a Porter sibling site that features off-season, discount buys on designer clothing.
RIGHT: Made of heavyweight cotton twill, Raey’s khaki-green Whisper Army Coat ($424, Matches Fashion) reflects the utilitarian mood of season with its oversize patch pockets, while remaining true to the label’s pared-back style. If you’re fancying a pair of matching pants, unfortunately, they’re sold out.
LEFT: Channel your inner tough chick in Levi’s midweight-cotton Parachute Fishtail Jacket ($180, Nordstrom). The military-inspired parka is cinched with drawcords at the waist and a longer hem at back to keep your rear protected from chilly winds. Nice touch: You can roll up the sleeves with button tabs to show the contrasting striped interior fabric.
RIGHT: Japanese designer Chitose Abe perfected her skills as a pattern cutter for Comme des Garçons’ Rei Kawakubo before starting her own label in 1998. She is known for her ability to transform familiar women’s knitwear, jackets, etc., into designs that defy conventions, like this interpretation of an army jacket. If your budget is boundless, go for Sacai’s Satin Panel Belted Jacket ($1,282,Farfetch). Bet no one else on your block will have one. Note: It was shown styled with combat booties, black long Bermuda shorts and patterned black tights.
LEFT: Levi’s Parachute Cotton military jacket (available in plus sizes, $89.99, Amazon) comfortably covers your rear. We can also see how that detachable hood will come in handy.
RIGHT: Nili Lotan clothing always seems like an extravagance, but I did fall for the style of this Cambre Jacket ($650). Shown here in sandy beige, it also comes in uniform green. It’s slightly more fitted than other army jackets but still is practically equipped with four cargo front pockets. Wear it alone for Indian summer days; later, layer under a navy coat.
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