Soldiers first wore the field jacket. The Britons paraded the utility coat in the 19th century, serving as a practical uniform when stationed in India: lightweight for the equatorial heat and smartly cut from sturdy cotton canvas. Decades later, the Americans recruited the field jacket on patrol in Vietnam, the M65 the most popular, recognised by its olive green hue, billowy front pockets, and a built-in hood and epaulettes.
The earthy tones saw the field jacket transitioned onto the African plains, offering camouflage for hunting safari-ans, who also relished in the jacket’s breathability and function. But it was Monsieur Saint Laurent who brought the field-cum-fashion jacket to the concrete jungle in Paris in the Sixties, before Hollywood endorsed it with Sir Roger Moore, the coat now with a civilian following thanks to a stylish James Bond.
Breaking It Down
Nowadays, the field jacket ricochets down the runway and battles it out in the street-style scene. From Milan to New York, stylish men have adopted the former-army piece as their very own, wearing it with tailoring to work or over a simple t-shirt and jeans.
While the basic construction – a mid-length jacket with four front pockets – hasn’t altered that much today, the colours, fabrics and textures of contemporary field jackets have altered to meet changing style tastes – and different weather condition.
Love the look but not sure how to recruit it? We’ve laid out 5 men’s field jacket style tips, making it easy. The biggest piece of advice? The field jacket should feel – and look – effortless when worn. Just throw it on over any of your current go-to outfits and walk out the door.
#1 Worker Jacket
The classic field jacket is the perfect office layer, serving as a functional and stylish top coat for the daily commute. Paired with a neutral two-piece business suit, opt for a sharp fitting field coat in deep olive and keep the details refined: a length that covers the hemline of the suit jacket and a belted waist for a tailored, clean aesthetic.
And look into added features. Some models – like the Private White V.C. jacket – come with an insulating inlay (interchangeable from season to season) and boast a contemporary nylon shell to avoid creasing, but with a suede-trim collar and fleece-lined pockets for a touch of luxury that’s subtle. Just add a textural woven tie and cutaway-collared shirt in baby blue and you’re office prepped.
#2 Friday Chic
Meeting up with the crew for pre-weekend drinks? Dressed-down Fridays welcome the field jacket in buttery tan or cream suede, the beltless style and natural colours creating a more refined, less rockstar top layer than say, a black leather perfecto.
Belstaff‘s slim-fit suede design is a luxurious take on the army jacket. Embracing flap pockets, there’s plenty of roomy for wallet, phone and keys, fastened with an easy-slide, two-way zipper. Fully-lined with an ultra-soft finish, it’s an informal elegance piece, taking you from night to day in style. Layer it over collared shirting and clean cut trousers, slipping in a fine-gauge knit and silk neckerchief – adding smoothness to the suede.
#3 Minimal Militant
Even the monochrome and minimal can enlist the field jacket for daily wear. Keeping things black, opt for a sleek and lightweight blazer design. With minimal appendages and neat button fastening, layer it over a basic t-shirt, black chinos and white leather sneakers in low-cut silhouette.
Burberry offers a a fully reversible model with military quilt topstitching, adding much needed texture and dimension to an all-black look. Despite the absence of metal, the jacket’s patch pockets, a small throat tab and subtle elbow patches give back points of interest without derailing simplicity. And when you tire from black, reverse the jacket and you’ll be a navy seal in no time.
#4 Denim Duty (Waxy)
We have raincoats, but is there much option for keeping stylishly dry in the wet? Enter the waxed field jacket. A timeless classic, the weather-proof wax cotton boasts protection suitable for long periods outside; the black finish providing a statement sheen that’s less ostentatious than say, patent leather.
Barbour offers its take on waxed, finish with the brand’s signature corduroy collar, red check lining and logo patch for something a little heritage too. The ruggedness rolls well with denim: a jean jacket layered under an open waxed field, atop a plain t-shirt and black slim jeans for a great fabric mix.
For a rock edge, simply add wayfarer shades and suede chelsea boots. And the beauty of waxed cotton? Like denim, it ages with the wearer: each crease, fold and blemish a symbol of individuality and a unique story to tell. Denim-heads, rejoice.
#5 Urban Cadet
Camo print is taking street wear by storm this season, adding some tough-guy patterning to urban, skate-inspired outfits. Opting for an authentic camouflage, team the jacket with more refined casual pieces: Breton shirt, cropped trousers and low cut sneakers. Or with washed out denim jeans and chunky boots, the latter emphasising the military aspect well.
Saint Laurent has crafted the perfect California-meets-captain jacket with a short shape shirtjacket style in fitted cut. The added sewn-on regiment patches reimagine military days, as do the many pockets. Roll the sleeves for summer and wear open, as it’s made from light cotton. The idea is to look like it’s a vintage second-hand find, but better – without the bulky fit and heavy-duty fabric of yesteryear. And dust, obviously.