How Military uniforms influenced Fashion

words Evie Smith | illustration Sophie Filomena

illustration Sophie Filomena

illustration Sophie Filomena

Ever since I saw Tom Cruise in Top Gun, I've had a little thing for a man in uniform. Those sunglasses, that jacket and probably, Tom Cruise modelling it, did it for me.

The Military uniform has always paved the way for several seasons of fashion and some of them are considered a staple of a man's wardrobe even now.

Ray Ban Aviators

During the 1930's, a development was happening in the skies. New planes were being developed allowing pilots to fly higher and further. However, the higher you fly, the closer you are to the sun (kinda). Pilots of the 30's were reporting severe glare from the sun and were causing them headaches and motion sickness.

Ray Ban Aviators were originally commissioned by Bausch and Lomb in 1937 for the Army, though many brands have attempted to replicate them since then. They usually have very dark lenses and are rather large for the face. This is to prevent as much light as possibly from getting into the eyes.

These eventually replaced the outdated dark pilot's goggles that had been used for years prior. This new brand of sunglasses, perfect for men (and women) flying around the aviation world then became known as Ray- Ban Aviators.

Trench Coat

The Trench Coat has been a staple of fashion for many years but its roots started way back in the First World War.

During this war, soldiers were sent to the trenches in their original long woolen overcoats, which had been used in armies since the Crimean War of the 1850's. However, in the cold conditions of the trenches, close to the North Sea, this was seen as highly impractical.

The coats were not only designed to be waterproof but they also had many other practical qualities. There was a gun flap, specifically where a gun could fit in preparation for combat and the belt was used to hold many things such as maps. The back of the trench coat was fitted with a storm shield to allow water to run directly off of the back in harsh weather.

Despite how trendy they are now, the true root of the trench coat was indeed to help the men and women of the war, stay warm and dry in the trenches.

Dr. Martens

Dr Martens were created by Dr Klaus Maertens, who was a 25-year-old soldier, residing in Munich. He had broken his foot and grew tired of the hard leather soles in most army boots. He set out to create a shoe that had an air-conditioned sole to speed up his recovery time. He created a prototype and showed into old University friend Dr Herbert Funk and together, using old military supplies and decades worth of work, they began selling to women and soon, internationally.

Whilst they were not strictly used for soldiers in the war, during the 1970's, the Irish Army were allowed to wear them occasionally, though, the tread would wear thin very quickly and they soon discovered that they were not at all waterproof.

However, had Dr Maerten not have injured his foot, once relieved of his Doctoral duties during the war, this staple of modern day fashion would have ceased to exist.

Bomber Jackets 

In the very early part of the 20th Century, aeroplanes did not have enclosed cockpits, which, as you can imagine, left the pilot feeling an extreme amount of wind. Therefore, a coat was needed that could deal with the icy cold climates and high winds. The British Army mainly wore long leather coats to contract these conditions, however, the Americans chose a different approach, by creating an entire brand dedicated to kitting out their soldiers in the sky. The jacket created was fitted with zipping closures with wind flaps, wrap around collars and tight fitting cuffs and waistbands made from seal skin and cotton. They have issued an A2 Bomber jacket to most pilots have remained a staple in fashion and the army ever since, though the materials used thankfully no longer contain sealskin.