Here at Who What Wear headquarters, we know how to take orders from our favorite designers. So when they instructed us that the military jacket was the next big thing, we said, "Sir, yes Sir!" and marched right, left, right to the flak jacket beat. After all, we could hardly resist this hero piece that stylishly invaded the S/S 10 shows and nearly knocked the little leather jacket into the outlying provinces. In the face of the glam barracks wear at Balmain, the precisely cut styles at Rag & Bone, and pretty girl iterations seen at Charlotte Ronson, we had no choice but to wave the white flag and surrender to this serious spring essential.
While the army-inspired look is a widespread one, the aforementioned tastemakers are a few notable front-line examples to whose style intelligence we will defer. One preeminent take on the trend came via Charlotte Ronson's S/S 10 show, where models clad in diaphanous tops under black, khaki, or pastel strong-shouldered jackets appealed to pretty young things with a bit of an edge. Eye-catching studded belts and sleeves served up as high contrast to ballerina buns and clean faces, while pale pants and dresses were toughened up with black and army green. Our favorite look consisted of the Army Twill Button-Down Shirt ($170, 212.625.9074), cinched with a studded belt and paired with Silk Lace-Up Harem Pants ($250, 212.625.9074). Unfortunately, this shirt was not produced, but you can snag Ronson's Army Twill Jacket ($295, 212.625.9074) instead! While these runway pieces do contain a fair amount of hardware¬--as well as some sex-appeal in the form of the designer's bandage-style Rogers Suede Strappy Platforms ($190, 212.625.9074)¬--the sweet beauty elements and buttoned-up collar lends these pieces a polished vibe. Happily this proves that the army jacket can easily be deployed into a fashion-forward assortment of pulled-together ensembles!
The boys over at Rag & Bone, however, had a slightly different take on how to wear this emerging wardrobe staple. Continuing their flair for more masculine silhouettes, designers Marcus Wainwright and David Neville sent out their models in structured jackets, blazers, and drop-waist pants with gilded eye makeup and slicked-back hair, resulting in a more utilitarian take on our trend du jour. Urban warrior types will jump at the chance to arm themselves in the inaugural runway look, which consisted of the Olive Wikfield Parka ($695) over an Ecru Pleated Tux Shirt ($195) and Dagger Print Rose Skirt ($265). Additionally, one of our favorite finishing touches came via the cult label's Nude Kensington Boots ($625), which also pays homage to the similar khaki craze, and looks extra chic when paired with thick, slouchy socks.
Since this trend of many names (utility, field, flack, military) has certainly seen a most popular uprising¬--and is on the cusp of wardrobe domination¬--there will be a plethora of variations battling it out to make this veteran piece new again. But never fear, dear readers, because like the good little soldiers we try to be, we translated this sartorial policy into a concrete mission. We made it our task to track down the best army jackets, so that today we can notify our platoons (you!) about which versions to Go Buy Now!
Aloha Rag 1965 Studded Vest ($240, 212.925.0882)
One ideal option for combating spring fashion is this amazing vest from Aloha Rag, which perfectly blends the sporty styles seen at Alexander Wang with the studded versions shown at Balmain. We love the oversized front pockets and boyish silhouette, while the strategic silver detailing gives it the right dose of intrigue. We could easily see Agyness Deyn wearing it with a long-sleeved jumpsuit and lace-up black booties, for a tough-meets-glamorous off-duty look.
Balmain Tweed Biker Jacket ($4,474)
Christopher Decarnin's glitzy militia for S/S 10 channeled a cutting-edge version of gilded Trojan warriors in tattered tees, leather pants, and military jackets complete with gold fringe epaulets. The tweed version pictured here, while not directly from the runway, remains a lust-worthy workhouse from that glamorous takeover. Decarnin has skillfully reinterpreted this reputedly dowdy material by adding signature touches like zippers, buckles, and a fashion-forward shape. While we realize this must-have jacket is quite an investment piece, we can easily attest to its price tag with a simple case of defense economics. Worn with leather pants and shredded t-shirt, it can qualify you as part of Decarnin's directional troops, or, it can look professionally appropriate¬--and chic¬--when styled with light-wash denim and a simple white tee.
Gap Military Anorak ($79.50) in Spectrum Green
Our most wallet-friendly find for the day, this Gap anorak looks like it stepped right off the Rag & Bone runway, making it perfect for a girl with a stylish sense of duty. The funnel neck and oversized pockets lend to its utilitarian vibe, while the cinched waist offers a more feminine, fitted shape. We'd recommend pairing this task-ready piece with lightweight layers or drop-crotch pants, or throw it over boyfriend jeans and a bateau tee for an effortlessly cool casual outfit.
Simone by Katie Nehra Army Shirt ($386, 323.848.8183)
We're longtime fans of Simone by Katie Nehra's party-girl pieces and are happy to report that her spring collection is just as loyal to that stylish oath. Her Hollywood Hills take on this all-purpose wardrobe necessity has that sexy I-borrowed-my-boyfriend's jacket vibe with its boxy shape and authentic looking patches, while the embellished shoulders echo those glamazons at chez Balmain. We'd opt to take a page from Nehra's style file and wear this studded army shirt when we expect to have fun; with a mini dress and heels, for a superlative soiree ensemble.¬--Liza Kaplan