Fashion's army: The resurgence of khaki

By Zoe Walker, Ana Macdonald

Stand to attention: military is back. Again. A look that marches into stores every second season or so, 2010 sees the trend for all things utilitarian relax ever so slightly. Think of Goldie Hawn as Private Benjamin with her casual take on military chic - flak jacket teamed with rolled-up sleeves and loose buttons.

Gone are the sharp marching jackets, flashy gold detailing and literal interpretations of military wear, although All Saints-inspired cargo pants are back with a vengeance - just don't do camo print.

The modern incarnation of classic military style is subtle, with a focus on function and simplicity, closely tied to the back-to-basics direction of fashion right now. Think military-inspired jackets at Alexander Wang, Balmain, Galliano, Louis Vuitton, Marc Jacobs, Rag & Bone; subtle epaulette detailing on dresses and jackets at Celine and Chloe; and khaki shades almost everywhere.

Stolen Girlfriends Club have referenced Michael Jackson's penchant for military inspired epaulettes, and Twenty-seven Names incorporated army references into their winter range called Butter Not Bombs, which was influenced by the anti-war protest movements of the 1960s - jackets and circle trench coats reflect their military inspiration. Kate Sylvester's show at Australian Fashion Week recently featured subtle military detailing contrasted against sweet feminine looks - the key to getting this look right for 2010.

And while Karen Walker's current in-store range is largely nautical inspired, gold button detailing on trench coats reflect one of the easiest ways to reference the military trend without wearing an army hat.

Army inspired flak jackets are in fact the main focus of most of this military action; think of them as your uniform for winter. Shearling detail, as done to perfection at Burberry, is another military trend; combine the two to get ahead of the seasonal fashion curve. Colour is another focus - go for khaki, olive, navy and other sludgy shades. Gone are the baggy orange and red Maharishi cargo pants worn by the likes of Jennifer Aniston in 2002; this time the pants favoured by the aforementioned 90s girl band All Saints have a sleeker silhouette and subtler palette.

The New York Times reported last week that J Brand's "Houlihan" cargo pants - named after Hot Lips Houlihan of M*A*S*H - are the "must-have item" of the season, probably because they look a lot like the Balmain versions but are much cheaper.

Locally, Sass & Bide's cropped "Crackerjack" cargo pants are in store at Superette, Workshop Denim have a classic and smart pair in store, and Kate Sylvester has military jackets, lipstick bullet printed tees and Sam Browne belts, with an entire winter collection dedicated to an urban army.

- NZ Herald

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