Origin of the Trend: Military-Inspired Coats

Fall is for layers. Sweaters, jackets, boots, and scarves comprise a typical and timeless fall wardrobe in Boston. The key outerwear item for fall of 2010 is the military-inspired coat. The variety of silhouettes becoming popular and available off the runway have a distant origin in fashion history.

The initial military-inspired menswear trend is seen in English riding coats and French redingotes of the late 1700s and early 1800s, sporting fitted bodices and full skirts.

The look was revived in the early 1900s in “three-quarter length, military and desirable styles,” as seen in a Pittsburgh Press advertisement from January of 1904, and highlighting “military collars” in a November of 1909 issue of Boston Daily Globe. Coats were furnished with decorative braiding and large buttons to further associate the menswear trend with its inspiration.

The military-throwback fashion trend was again revisited in the 1940s. To emphasize the tendency toward male-oriented details on female silhouettes, lapels and shoulders grew, creating a waist-narrowing inverted-triangle across the torso.

The year 1996 saw a spark in military-style collections across the globe: Gucci, Alexander McQueen and Gianni Versace were applauded for their neutral-colored jackets and buckle-adorned garments in various Milan and London Fall Fashion Weeks, while military-esque designs by Valentino and Prada in past years were rejected.

The current military-inspired fascination highlights waist-length camel and navy jackets sporting waists cinched with skinny belts. Popularized by Max Mara, Burberry Prorsum and Marc by Marc Jacobs, the 2010 trend indicates a shift away from fitted, skirted coats toward a more masculine silhouette than the earliest military-inspired jackets for women.

Published at The Lion, The Stitch, and The Wardrobe on October 14, 2010.

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