Over the past two centuries, Men’s Fashion has been influenced more by military uniforms than any other time in history. While the evolution of fashion can sometimes define itself by the local economic or environmental situations of a country, the development of military-style had to do with the climates of the wars that were taking place overseas. How these designs made their way back home into everyday life in the past century is the exciting part.
Having ready-made clothes of different sizes is still a relevantly new concept. It used to be that everyone, including the military, had to have their clothes custom made by expert tailors up until roughly the 20th century. It was through these tailors that the streamlined military designs presented itself to the public.
Take, for example, the three-piece suit. That iconic connection to the 1930s era, the three-piece suit draws its inspiration from the late 19th and early 20th-century French army’s “waistcoat and single-breasted jackets” uniforms.
Even what is considered casual wear of T-shirts, Khakis, and Chino pants today are influenced by the British and U.S military uniforms of the past. The T-shirt originally was an undergarment for Navy men fighting in the Spanish-American War. Khakis, Persian for “dust” to describe the color, were taken from the British military who, in turn, took it from the army of India who would dye their uniforms to blend in with the surrounding area.
Chinos came from the Spanish military and became part of the U.S. military uniform after the Spanish-American War. All three items came about due to the environment of the area the wars were taking place in. The comfortability and ability to keep one cool make it easier to integrate them into civilian society.
Men returning from the war took advantage of the G.I. Bill to attend college and wearing parts of their uniforms that they still had from their time in the military. This exposure to a new fashion style is what intrigued nonmilitary people to go to second hand and military surplus stores to find these items to have for themselves.
However, the three-piece suit and the now casual wear are not the only things that military fashion has influenced. The military uniforms of multiple countries influence boots, sunglasses, trench coats, the wristwatch, and even layering. Fashion inspiration comes from all aspects of life.