wardrobes Mil­i­tary field jack­ets are in­vad­ing our

Get in line with De Niro and Pa­cino in a field jacket.

Esquire (UK) - - Contents - By Fin­lay Ren­wick

It’s a grim-but-un­de­ni­able fact that the hor­rors of war have in­spired more iconic pieces of menswear than all of the great tem­ples of fash­ion com­bined. With­out World War I there’d be no gabar­dine Burberry trench coat. No san­dals with­out the march­ing needs of an­cient Assyr­ian war­riors and Roman le­gion­naires. The MA-1 bomber jacket would be but a flight of imag­i­na­tion if not for the prac­ti­cal cock­pit re­quire­ments of WWII air­men. And let’s not for­get the great­coat, adapted for Rus­sian sol­diers to fend off the bit­ing cold dur­ing count­less bleak cam­paigns. A real clas­sic!

One piece of peren­ni­ally stylish mil­i­tary-birthed out­er­wear for­ever or­bit­ing in and out of trend re­ports, de­signer mood­boards and the backs of raff­ish, rake-thin mod­els is the US Army field jacket, or M65 to use its mil­i­tary des­ig­na­tion. A util­i­tar­ian cot­ton or can­vas coat with four front-fac­ing but­toned pock­ets and (tra­di­tion­ally) a dou­ble shoul­der epaulette first is­sued to GIs fight­ing in the jun­gles of trop­i­cal South­east Asia in the mid-Six­ties.

Mil­i­tary ori­gins aside, the field jacket found a per­ma­nent spot in the fash­ion and wider Western cul­tural zeit­geist thanks to Robert De Niro’s hol­low-eyed and PTSD-rid­den Travis Bickle in Martin Scors­ese’s 1976 Taxi Driver, a ni­hilis­tic weirdo pa­trolling New York City in one of cin­ema’s most fa­mous jack­ets: an M65 of the kind worn in ac­tion, and brought home, by in­nu­mer­able troops

af­ter their com­bat tours were fi­nally up in Viet­nam. Al Pa­cino’s army-jack­et­ted un­der­cover cop in 1973’s Ser­pico also de­serves an honourable men­tion.

As with all de­sign clas­sics, the field jacket has evolved to be a far more so­phis­ti­cated item than the sim­ple olive drab cot­ton orig­i­nals that still sit in dusty abun­dance in vin­tage and army sur­plus stores (al­though those are still great). Brands like Brunello Cucinelli, Drake’s and Con­nolly are tak­ing the orig­i­nal sil­hou­ette and re­mak­ing it in rich suede with a tai­lored, rather than over­sized, shape. White­hot la­bels have added heavy, streetwear-in­spired lo­gos (Off-White) and in­tri­cate and os­ten­ta­tious em­broi­dery (Gucci) to at-first-glance clas­sic M65s.

While they’re in the spot­light again this sea­son, the real beauty of the field jacket lies in its all-year­round util­i­tar­i­an­ism. Wear it in deca­dent tan suede in sum­mer with white linen trousers and driv­ing shoes like an Ital­ian sprez­zatura over­lord. Or wait un­til au­tumn where over­sized olive green can­vas, black jeans and com­bat boots can reign supreme.

“The in­dus­trial level of repli­ca­tion cou­pled with the long list of stars and po­lit­i­cal fig­ure­heads that have donned this func­tional clas­sic all con­trib­ute to the field jacket’s myth,” says Owen Beau­fort

Zeal, de­sign and de­vel­op­ment man­ager at Con­nolly. “From Cas­tro to McQueen and Yves Saint Lau­rent to De Niro, it tran­si­tioned per­fectly from the bat­tle­field to the screen.”

Is it talkin’ to you?

Be­low: David Beck­ham takes to the fieldRight: tan suede field jacket, £2,500, by Con­nolly

Far left: Robert De Niro in Taxi Driver (1976)Above: tan/green/ brown cam­ou­flage cot­ton field jacket, £895, by Off-White @ match­es­fash­ion.comLeft: green/or­ange cot­ton field jacket, £1,830, by Gucci @ match­es­fash­ion.com Left: US troops in Viet­nam, where the M65 was first in­tro­duced into ser­vice

Right: navy cot­ton-linen field jacket, £495, by Drake’s

Be­low: Yves Saint Lau­rent in one of his green ver­sions

Left: Al Pa­cino in Ser­pico (1973)

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