There is something about officers in uniforms that gets both men and women excited. Be it their polished dressing or the charisma they exude, a man/woman in uniform surely stands out in a crowd. The uniform exudes fear and at the same time is respected and even looked up to. A uniform is the ultimate show of strength and dynamism and there is nothing sexier than that!
But what about the rest of us who're not in a position to wear those uniforms? Well, we simply try and adapt them to everyday fashion. Or at least that's what our ancestors did when they introduced some fashion trends that are now part of our everyday wardrobe.
While many of us know that Aviator sunglasses and high-rise combat boots are military's gift to the fashion world, you'd be surprised to know that the list just doesn't end there!
These 10 clothing trends were first adopted by the armed forces, which eventually found their way into everyday fashion.
1. Bell Bottoms
Long before young men and women of the '70s were grooving to Elvis's tunes in funky discotheques wearing heavily studded bell bottoms, it was the sailors who were rocking these pants. Men of the navy ended up evolving basic tight-fitted pants into bell bottoms out of need. The bell bottom flares would begin from below the knee and extend till the ankle. This would provide them larger leg-space, making it easier to fold the pants, while their lower legs were submerged in water.
A plain white T-shirt is as essential as underwear and is something that finds space in everybody's closet. Turns out that the plain white tee we all love was actually a part of the U.S. Naval uniform back in 1913. The white helped them stay cool in tropical locations, while the light fabric was helpful in beating the heat. The soldiers wore these T-shirts under their uniforms, which they removed every time they had to undertake a dirty job. This way, their uniforms were saved from soiling. So technically the white T-shirt did start out as a piece of undergarment.
3. Leather Jacket
November hits and the first thing that you see everybody donning is a leather jacket. With fancy cuts and vivid colours, leather jackets are one of the best things about the season. And just like they protect us from the harsh winter winds, these jackets were used by men in the British Air Force as suitable pieces of clothing. During World War I, most airplanes did not have an enclosed cockpit, exposing the pilots to piercing winds. The jackets made of leather would not only bear the winds at high altitudes, but also allow enough movement for these soldiers.
4. The Necktie
While there are many stories that trace the origin of the modern day Necktie, one of the most widely accepted ones is that of the Croatian Army. During the Thirty Years' War (1618-1648), Croatian soldiers arrived in France with brightly coloured scarves tied around their necks. These scarves were knotted so tightly that some of them even fainted during their stunt. But looked like the fashion-obsessed French were really taken by this style statement for they soon adopted it as their own. It was first called Le Croate, and then slowly evolved into what we now call the Necktie.
5. Trench Coat
When you think trench coats, you automatically think Burberry. But looks like Burberry was never the pioneer when it came to the trench. Back in the days of the Royal British land, there was a brand called Aquascutum. They were producing practical, long coats with their patented waterproof wool for the British Army officials who were fighting the Crimean War. This inspired Thomas Burberry to design a raincoat for the Army, which he presented at the War Office in 1901. This was the design that had large lapels, epaulets and convertible collars. And this is how the modern day Trench Coat was born.
6. Cardigan Sweater
The Cardigan's birth can be attributed to James Brudenell. He was the 7th Earl of Cardigan and British Army's Major General, who led the Royal Forces at the Battle of Balaclava during the Crimean War. There are no points in guessing that the sweater borrows its name from Cardigan, which is now a town in Mid Wales. Inspired from the waistcoat, this front-open sweater soon became a favourite among the masses. The French and British fishermen were the first people to adopt this into daily clothing, since heavy knitwear helped them avoid harsh weather conditions.
Here's James Brudenell with a cardigan hanging on his left shoulder.
7. Wellington Boots
The Wellington Boots were a result of a slight modification suggested by the Duke of Wellington to his shoemaker. The 18th century Hessian boots took the form of Wellingtons when the Duke asked his shoemaker to make a pair using vulcanized rubber, rather than leather. These boots became quite a rage during World War I, since rubber was a better material when it came to dealing with the flooded trenches in Europe. There was such a high demand that 1,185,036 pairs were produced just for the British Army. Eventually the Wellingtons caught on with regular fashion trends, and still enjoy a strong foothold in the fashion world.
8. Raglan Sleeve
T-shirts with raglan sleeves are quite a rage these days. In fact, they have been one of those few fashion statements that scream 'sporty'. Raglan sleeves are actually those that extend up to the T-shirt's collar instead of stopping at the shoulder. So any of those T-shirts where the sleeves and the rest of the garment's colours don't match probably have raglan sleeves. The origin of this very sporty fashion trend dates back to the Battle of Waterloo, where Lord Raglan, the 1st Baron Raglan, lost his arm. The sleeve was invented by Aquascutum (Yes, the same Trench Coat people) for Lord Raglan to help him use his sword in battle, since the raglan sleeve provided better movement to the Lord, as compared to the sleeve fixed to the shoulder.
9. Cargo Pants
It's all thanks to the men in the Royal British Army that the world was introduced to Cargo pants. Cargos were their Battle Dress Uniforms (BDU), given their baggy and comfortable design. Unlike the cargos today, back in 1938, the soldiers wore cargo pants with just two pockets. These pockets were large and were made for the soldiers to be able to easily acquire ammunition and radios that were put in them. From the British Army, these pants made there way to continents all around the world and in the 1940s, the US Army made them a part of their uniform. No wonder, most of these pants are in the shades of khaki and dark green.
This is probably the least unpredictable of the lot. The British Army fought wars wearing bright red tight-fitted tunics with high stock. This definitely looked royal, but was it practical? Probably not! That is why Harry Lumsden in the 1840s took it upon himself to adopt Khaki. He was the commanding officer of the Bengal irregular cavalry, where he gave his soldiers pyjamas and cotton jackets, dyed with mazari, an indigenous plant that turned everything into a shade of dull greenish brown. The other shade was a more yellowish tone, which was a result of dying leather goods with mulberry juice. Together, both the shades were called khaki.
Did you ever think your favourite woollen cardigan or the plain ol' white T-shirt wouldn't have existed if it wasn't for the armed forces?
Looks like we owe them for much more than just keeping us safe!