In the menswear world, militaria has been a big source of inspiration for many designers for decades. After all, military garments have been engineered to be some of the most functional items of clothing on the planet, revolutionising technical gear for other industries to draw upon later down the track. Yet the idea of being inspired by war his a double edged sword to me. That is why I want to point out my most important reason why women can find much inspiration from military garments, and it has to do with our history.
As a designer, I see World War II as a pivotal point of change for women. It was the first time women stepped into men’s job roles to fill the huge gap in the workforce, while men were at war. They began working in factories, farms, and even in the military to help with war efforts. If you come across old magazines or vintage clothing, you might see images of women in the 40s wearing men’s pieces like overalls, work shirts, or even come across vintage men’s pieces altered to fit a woman. It was this very time period that we can acknowledge as the beginnings of our acceptance as equals.
Your personal style is a projection of your values, and the meaning that you draw from your clothing. To me, khakis and army greens represent a powerful history that tells a very different story to devastation of war. It is a history that we can all proudly share as women, to remind us of how we have evolved.
Below, W’menswear floral camo shirt, vintage liner jacket and skirt.
Above, Kookai dress, vintage Vietnam war era vest and field watch.
This is an article written and styled by Lauren Yates for Vogue Australia.