Military FashionSusannah Walbank
You can see a strong military influence throughout the whole of the fashion industry. This season’s jackets have a strong 18th century British and French theme – a strong shoulder decorated with epaulettes, brass buttons and rope trims. To bring the jackets into the modern era there are usually a few add-ons such as bows or crystals.
Many military uniform staples have become cornerstones of modern-day fashion but were actually borne out of more practical requirements. The trendy trench coat, for instance, dates back to 1853 when it was thought that officers fighting in the Crimean War needed long practical jackets to protect them from the elements. In fact Burberry submitted a design to the War Office in 1901 for an officer’s raincoat. They made it using their own patented cotton fabric featuring large lapels and epaulettes.
Khakis were introduced in the 1840s by Harry Lumsden. Until then the British Military wore bright outfits. Lumsden was the commanding officer of the Bengal Irregular Cavalry. He stated that “a tight scarlet tunic with a high stock was not the most suitable garment in which to wage war in the plains of the Punjab in the hot weather.” He decided to give all his men coarse cotton smocks dyed with mazari which was a local dull brown plant. The leather items were dyed with mulberry juice and the two colours together became known as khaki, from the Persian word ‘khak’ which means earth or dust.
Bomber Jackets were introduced during the First World War when most airplanes had open cockpits. The US Army established the Aviation Clothing Board in September 1917 and developed a heavy duty leather flight jacket which had high collars with snug cuffs. In 1931 standard issue A2 Bomber Jackets made from seal skin leather and a cotton lining were issued. It soon became impractical to supply seal skin so the jackets were instead made from horsehide. These days bomber jackets are further embellished with add-ons such as military badges and patches.
View our range of military badges here.
Military tunics are a huge staple this season and can be purchased from a variety of high street stores such as Zara, TopShop, ASOS, Mango and many more. Most of these jackets feature brass buttons and a structured collar. Many are often decorated with epaulettes or gold braid to create intricate detailing. The Drummer’s tunic, worn in the Bands of the Infantry Regiment is an iconic item famously decorated with Fleur De Lis lace which can be purchased here.
Military trends are becoming an increasing part of everyday fashion, and are even combined with basics such as jeans and t-shirts. Many would argue that the flamboyant design aesthetic of Napoleon Bonaparte in the 19th century is widely regarded as a cultural turning point.