Recently, reports have been trickling out that Google and NASA are in cahoots on a secret project known only as “Google Planetary Ventures.”
Which got us thinking about the great mystique surrounding a secret project name—sometimes borrowed from Latin, sometimes a cheeky nod, but always conveying the gravitas of the situation. And more importantly, it reminded us of some of our favorites throughout history.
Yesterday we celebrated Veterans Day—and it reminded us of the great contributions our servicemen have made to this nation over the years.
In terms of protecting our freedom, foremost, but also in our everyday dress. Just take a look at Major General Chuck Yeager here. He’s just hopped out of a fighter jet, but this very well could’ve been the same getup you wore out to watch football yesterday.
The list is long: khakis, bomber jackets, aviators, peacoats, desert boots, etc., all started out as military-issue clothes that veterans brought back home to wear around town—or, in some cases, had local tailors recreate to better suit their return to civilian life. And now we’re all wearing some version of them. Not to mention, a lot of the military-issued stuff (like Schott’s peacoat) is still among your better options out there. Further confirming that enduring style relies more heavily on function than form.
To that, we’ll salute.
Drake’s London has been making some of our favorite silk scarves, ties and pocket squares for some time now—and they’ve just branched out into leather.
It’s their first foray into tanned hide, so they’ve kept the collection small, but we’re most interested in the military wet pack now that fall travel season is upon us. It’s a dopp kit cut in bridle leather, with a bright red waterproof lining, and looks to be more spacious than most roll-ups we’ve seen in the past, with just about every shape of pocket that could possibly come in handy.
Yes, even one for your bone-handle straight razor.
This latest installment comes from the collective minds of LA-based label U.S. Alteration (yes, that is Lupe Fiasco in their lookbook) and one of our favorite men’s shops, Union. They’ve taken military-issue fatigues and put them through an over-dye process, giving the camo a muted look—except for the few patches they’ve left exposed. It might be the most inventive repurpose of camo we’ve seen yet. They’re launching the gear this weekend in LA with a big to-do, so those of us not in town will have to wait till the stuff makes its way onto the Web.
There’s no question camouflage is having a moment.
But leave it to the unlikely union of the uptown stalwarts at J. Press and the downtown kids at Opening Ceremony to give it a new spin: patchwork camouflage pants. The move is usually relegated to the preppy corner of madras, but here we’ve got West Point military cloth of alternating camouflage—we detect woodland, desert and tiger stripe for starters. It’s part of a capsule collaboration between the two labels (you’ll have to make it to NYC or London to get your hands on any of it) that includes a removable-collar seersucker shirt, a few tees and a blazer.
Opportunity knocks, gentlemen. Blogger darlings and makers of “the dream chino” Unis are remodeling their NYC shop and have decided to make their packing job easier by lightening their stock.
Nearly everything online is a hearty 25% off. Now’s your chance to grab another pair of summer pants in their famous Gio cut, venture into shorts territory and/or get your hands on the latest buzzworthy item that’s been circling the Internet—thanks in most part to this young lady—the camo military jacket.
Go on, get after it.
The military field watch has become the summer timepiece de rigueur in most menswear circles, and a lot of companies have set out to recreate that look, updating the inner workings with today’s technology (be it quartz or automatic movement). But we’re of the mind that there’s nothing better than the real thing—even if that does require you to manually rewind the movement daily.
Which is why we like this Benrus number—part of a new stash of timepieces that have just arrived at Americana-phile wonderland Buckshot Sonny’s. What’s nice is they seem to have really zeroed in on Vietnam-era watches made for US infantrymen, and this watch in particular was built on military contract MIL-W-3818B (we actually tracked down a copy of the US DOD spec sheet). It’s authenticity you can’t readily buy in most men’s shops. And since the watches were designed for the balmy punishment of Southeast Asian jungles, once summer rolls around this’ll feel much breezier than the crocodile or metal you’ve got wrapped around your wrist now.
And it’s much more subtle than camo print.
With the weather heating up, we prefer our outerwear thin and portable—and if possible, we’d like it to have lapels.
So naturally, we were drawn to this waxed-cotton blazer from the newly launched Private White V.C. The wax gives it enough weight to get you through those impromptu summer rains without adding too much bulk.
And more importantly, it’s a fully British item, woven by the British Millerain Co. and stitched together by James Grove and Sons in the West Midlands—so that whiff of Churchill-era military style is entirely authentic. Hopefully you’ve got the paratrooper pants to match.
Military style gets name-checked a lot, but it’s rare that a designer gets specific enough to name their favorite division. So we were glad to see Nigel Cabourn dedicate his spring/summer line to the Desert Rats, an armored division that spent WWII going toe-to-toe with Rommel in North Africa. (That jerboa patch on their shoulder is the giveaway.) As for the actual clothes, that means oversized camo prints, army green and one of the more rugged aircraft jackets on the market. It’s History Channel menswear; in our book, that’s the best kind.
Part Two: The Moments of 2011
What’s in a 2011 moment? Certainly a few things we never thought we’d see: Charlie Sheen’s crack-induced webcam vlog, a Facebook-inspired revolution in Egypt, a Seal Team Six smackdown on Osama Bin Laden, the discovery of another earthly planet…
The preternaturally on-point Justin Bridges has launched a mini-campaign for the tucked tie in the past few days, starting with these snaps for Baron Wells and this out-and-out endorsement. But before you take to the streets with half a placket showing, we’ve got a few words of caution.
Unlike the army officers who started the style, you’re not in danger of getting your neckwear caught in the gears of an artillery cannon, so there’s no functional reason for the tuck. As with so many affectations, it looks a lot better on the Internet.
Having said that, there are a few rare situations in which a modern man might find it appropriate to slip his tie between the buttons of his shirt… and we’ve compiled an exhaustive list after the jump.
On the heels of last week’s (relatively) successful resolution in Libya, President Obama’s announcement on Sunday that all troops will be withdrawn from Iraq by the end of the year signifies the beginning of what is likely to be the steepest drop in active service men and women in recent US history.
And the perfect time, according to Sgt. Maj. of the Army Raymond Chandler, to tighten up grooming standards.
“I believe that we can better visualize to the American people and the Army what it means to be an American soldier than we’re doing now,” Chandler told Army Times. “Those can be done through personal grooming standards and standards of appearance and the uniforms we wear and how we choose to wear them. I think we can do better. Now’s the time to take a look at it.”
The classic army field jacket has been through a lot. (It’s not easy when the style icon carrying your torch is Travis Bickle.) But as the latest Maiden Noir version reminds us, it’s still a solid item to have in your closet—and now that the weather has officially shifted into swelter mode, it might be the handiest outerwear piece you’ve got.
The khaki is sharp in a colonial way, but our favorite is the midnight blue with a bright white contrast stitch, a good deal sharper than the army green equivalent you can pick up from army surplus. Our game plan: leave it hanging open with a notepad, wallet and cell phone in the pockets.
Travis would be impressed.
Last week saw the first private space flight in human history, so we thought we’d take a moment to acknowledge one of the men who put his life on the line to make it possible. Ladies and gentlemen, Mr. Chuck Yeager.
There are two kinds of military watch. There’s the classic infantry kind (which you can find in any number of shops) and then there’s the advanced version, the kind of watch you’d see on the wrist of one of the bad guys in Top Gun.
This Tsovet Dial is the latter.
It’s a little less earthy than the khaki-toned alternative, but by our lights this is what a watch should look like: an impervious brick of technology, as small and as black as possible. The infantry model might have the retro look locked down…but this one looks like the future.
We try not to write too much about politics, the military or women’s pants, but there’s a change coming to our armed forces and we can no longer remain silent. We’re talking, of course, about the military’s respect for large posteriors. And we’re pleased to say, that respect is growing.
The U.S. Army is currently testing a new women’s combat uniform with specific alterations for the female form. In particular, “more material… to accommodate the buttocks,” in the words of one designer. In short, it’s a victory of the indomitable female form over the baggy, shapeless military bureaucracy. And at the risk of sounding partisan, we’ll say this victory’s overdue.
God bless America.
On the off-chance you’d gotten tired of American, British and Canadian heritage brand revivals, Grenson has a new trick for you. This waxed canvas and leather boot (spotted at the recent Compass Show) is modeled off Italian infantry boots circa World War One. That means they’re a lot lighter than your average American steelworker boot, and almost as tough. Think of it as a loose translation.
We’re entering the 11th hour of the gift guide roundup, but we’ve got a couple more that should be worth your while. You can see the full list here to catch up.
Temple specializes in deadstock WWII gear—mostly army green scarves and repurposed bags—but for their gift package, they had a very good idea: put it in a stocking. Specifically, it’s an army issue sock, with a wallet, keychain and a skeleton key necklace thrown in for good measure. It’s all good, rugged gear…and about as festive as military chic gets.
Back in the heyday of the wristwatch—which we’d place somewhere between the 30s and the 80s—it was common for a team to receive watches as a corporate gift. It wasn’t exactly the coolest way to stockpile gear…but it makes for a hell of a vintage market.
Hodinkee just dug up this 1940s Hamilton Canteen made to commemorate the short-lived bureau of ships. It’s more of a document of military bureaucracy than a timeless source of style, but it still wouldn’t look half bad on a well-dressed wrist.
And what would vintage gear be without a story or two?
The pocketed dress shirt is an endangered species. At most, you’ll see a single, open breast pocket, but add in a couple button-flaps and you’re in work shirt territory, and it’s farther than most are willing to go.
But not everyone, apparently. We just got our hands on these pics from the recently relaunched British firm E. Tautz, and they’re boasting more prominent pockets than we’ve seen in some time. Of course, because of the British connection, we’re guessing they were after the colonial look, but it’s still an awful lot to have on your chest. Even if it looks a lot better than we would have guessed.
There are a lot of different ways to dress for cold, but the “British gent invades Poland” look is one of the more interesting ones we’ve seen.
Nom de Guerre’s F/W ’09 collection mixes a wide range of styles, but what sticks out for us is the rough fur boot covers that look like they were lifted straight from Genghis Khan. The usual prim British tailoring and preppy shawl collars still apply, but now they look like they’re ready for the eastern front. Unlike 90% of winter collections, this one tries to outfit you for the coldest days of the year.
And a few infantry movements, while they’re at it.
Watches aren’t all sophistication and nostalgia. Sometimes you have to go with the blocky engineer look of our forefathers.
The EP Martin Cartridge watch takes after the military high-performance watches of the 40s and 50s, with the squared off watchface that later generations pared down. It’s a pretty bold statement, as timepieces go…but it’s as close to the workwear aesthetic as we’ve seen any watch come.
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