Men in uniform: a classic image that has melted the heart of many a housewife. From the brass buttons and epaulettes to the squeaking boots and shining sword; the romantic image of a soldier is forever captivating. The Beau, it is said, pursued a military career simply because of the charm of the uniform. Though our modern uniforms may not have the dash of threads worn by the armies of George III, there is still a precision and charm about military style. One only has to see the Household Cavalry trotting along The Mall to appreciate the appeal of regimental attire.
The exactness and formality of military clothing is a current vogue, and this season’s collections have often paid more than a little homage to classic forces tailoring. Double breasted long overcoats in stiff fabrics with mock-fur collars, crested buttons and gun-pockets have been popular styles for the winter season; some of the more exotic coats have a Napoleon-in-Russia grandeur that is most alluring.
Smart grey trousers, cropped shorter than usual, worn with boots, echo the uniform of the Royal Navy and long green scarves and belted great-coats are a dignified salute to the winter attire of the Tommy in the trenches in World War One.
To carry off the military look, you will need an air of stateliness, a slice of charisma and perhaps one of the items listed below. “Once more unto the breach dear friends…”
The military coat
Christopher Bailey’s Autumn/Winter 2007 collection for Burberry Prorsum is perhaps the finest example of fashion’s ode to military order. There were coats a plenty at the show and they ranged from the classic green loden belted coats to the grand Field Marshal creations with fur collars.
(From left to right; a classic RAF grey great coat with pistol pocket on the left breast; a steel blue double breasted ceremonial coat; a green loden single-breasted overcoat with leather belt; an Imperial Army style Eastern front mid-grey overcoat with mock fur collar; a green loden General’s coat with letter pocket and oversized fur lapels)
Though general issue brightly coloured tunics were a thing of the past once the First World War had started, tunics remain as part of ceremonial uniform. Greens and greys were popular at the Prorsum show.
Worn with trousers and a plain white shirt and knitwear, a tunic can look dashing and contemporary; a fusion of old world military polish and modern day utilitarianism.
Smart black boots will give the wearer that seen-some-action toughness and will make the military effect more genuine. They do not have to be as tough or hard-wearing as issue boots of course, but they should be laced up; the stylish man should be considering boots of a lighter construction.
This article was written in the spirit of homage and memorial; a dedication to those who have lost their lives in the service of their country. This is particularly pertinent at this time of year in Great Britain.
On Sunday the 11th November, the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland will hold a remembrance service, dedicated to military personnel who have died in service of their country. It is a time for reflection and respect, not a time for political sentiment of either persuasion. It is an occasion on which to honour and remember.