M65 Field Jacket: In Praise Of An Outerwear Icon | FashionBeans

What do Robert De Niro, Sylvester Stallone and Al Pacino have in common? Of course, there is the superior acting lineage. And yes, they can all be identified by last name alone. But more than that, they are known to be undoubtedly badass. Why? Well, it’s easy to look bad in a field jacket.

Whether it’s Travis Bickle inside Taxi driverJohn Rambo i First Blood or the anonymous undercover officer Serpico, all three turned to the stone-cold menswear classic when they wanted to suggest something of a countercultural status. And with good reason.

Part of the golden trio of outerwear pieces of obvious military origin – alongside bomber jacket and the flight jacket – the field jacket has been infinitely reinterpreted since it left active service. Eminently functional as service parts were supposed to be, the M65 also managed, crucially, to transcend its origins, allowing men to wear it without also slipping into the Action Man territory.

It is therefore hardly surprising that it – in one variation or another – has been included in collections from virtually all menswear designers in recent seasons, from Dior to Tom Ford, via streetwear brands like Stussy and Supreme; also in all colors and fabrics, from navy blue wool cashmere to raw state ecru cotton.

Need more convincing to make this the season to invest? Here’s everything you need to know about the most underrated piece of military menswear, from how it came to be, to the best brands to buy from today. And yes, we’re talking to you.

What is a field jacket?

Designed in the 1940s for military purposes, the field jacket is a lightweight to medium-weight garment that can be identified by its four front bellows pockets. These were intended to help soldiers carry equipment without the need for an intrusive bag.

Traditionally, the hip-length jacket often, but not always, had epaulettes and a belt or drawstring, which gathered the clothes at the waist to both help keep warm and also help prevent it from getting caught in the undergrowth. The fact that it flatters your silhouette was probably not very important to the generals.

A similar utilitarian idea lay behind the military’s decision to upgrade the benchmark design by replacing a button closure with a zipper and button pocket closures with push buttons a few years later.

Inevitably considering military style of the design, the field jacket came almost exclusively in fabrics such as cotton drill, satin or a nylon-cotton blend – suitably durable but also not too hot or too cool.

The field jacket from World War II was the first expression of an ingenious new approach to equipping soldiers who have shaped smart attire ever since: the idea of ​​laying layers up or down according to the climate. The field jacket was light enough to be used on warmer days over thin layers, loose enough to fit over, for example, down or fur linings when the weather got ugly.

The M 41 jacket from the 1940s

The field jacket today

“The field jacket is a timeless style, just as relevant today as when it was first designed,” says Bosse Myr, head of menswear purchasing for Selfridges. “It’s basically a utilitarian design, and yet it works just as well dressed up over a shirt and tie up as it does dressed down with jeans and plimsolls. ”

It is clear that what has given the field the opportunity to survive is its versatility. That and the fact that it still looks just as cool as the day it was released. “Of course,” adds Nick Gunn, co-founder of vintage menswear retailers Vintage Showroom“The attraction of the field jacket probably also comes from the fact that it has been in so many war movies. It is a very masculine jacket, and for that reason most men look semi-decent wearing one. It is remarkable how relevant the design is. has remained – one grown biker jacket is basically a field jacket design, after all. “

Course pictures with the field jacket

canali Giorgio Armani Louis Vuitton Oliver Spencer

5 style tips for field jackets

Learn to layer

The field jacket was required to handle war conditions and as such was designed with layering in mind. In the summer, it acts as a shower-resistant layer over just one T-shirt; for the winter wear it over a down vest or one denim jacket.

Mango Man Field JacketMango mand


One of the most redeeming features of the field jacket is that it can be worn in a number of different ways, where the overall effect is changed with a simple styling adjustment. “Designers like to balance their pockets by putting a print on the back,” says Myr. “Pushing the sleeves up also looks good, and I have known that some cut off the arms so that it looks more like a vest.”

Mango Man Field JacketMango mand

Dress it up or down

Like a lot cool jackets, this also works effortlessly with most pieces in the male wardrobe. Combine a field jacket with jeans or chinos and plimsolls or chukka boots for a classic casual style, or sub one for a blazer by throwing it over a shirt and tie. Always remember suitability for the apartment: for work, a version in navy blue or charcoal or dark nylon will work better, just like a more modern style with a slimmer cut.

Mango Man Field JacketMango mand


Trying to bolster the field jacket’s military associations is a big GI no. Use accessories instead to tone them down. Insert a boldly patterned or polka dot scarf or scarf in a complementary or contrasting color to instantly rise in the style line.

Carl GrossCarl Gross

Wall your pockets properly

Few things kill the lines of a carefully crafted outfit like overflowing pockets. To prevent distortion of the shape of a field jacket, store heavier items such as your purse and phone in the lower pockets and lighter, slimmer (loose money, keys, etc.) in the upper pockets. And if that’s not enough, consider investing in one weekend bag.


Field notes about the field jacket

Know the difference between it and a safari jacket

Although many flex their fashion knowledge when it comes to the history of menswear, they often fall for it when it comes to the field jacket, confusing it with the safari jacket. “The real essence of a field jacket is that it’s utilitarian, ready to be tough and tumble. It’s the jackets’ Willys Jeep,” says Nick Ashley, creative director of Private white VC. “It’s just not a safari jacket. It’s more poncey. You have to put it on. “

Respect the originals

If you happen to come across an early version of the M65 with all the accessories, do not tear off the badges and patches; this story is part of the jacket’s appeal, so enjoy the fact that you have a real one once. Or just wait to find a jacket that is free of the embellishments that typically came with it.

Do not dress tonally

Unless you want people to think you’re an extra from Rescues Private Ryan, avoid wearing a field jacket in the classic olive tone with a pair of trousers in the same shade; or pants that are externally military-inspired, such as cargo pants. As an easy access, stay within the classic menswear color palette of navy blue, charcoal, tan and black.

Do not bend linen

Military grade fabric seems like the obvious choice when it comes to a jacket designed for the front line, but it’s not the only option. “Very heavy linen has historically been used for hunting jackets because it is tough but breathes well, ”says Ashley. “People tend to associate linen with a middle-aged father-style. But they’re wrong.” Also consider mole skins for the winter.

Five Key Field jacket badges

Alpha Industries

Alpha Industries, which has been a longtime manufacturer of clothing for the U.S. military, still makes a military-grade M65 field jacket (although the armed forces can no longer handle the original). Modern examples are no less equipped for everyday matches, built to be both water and wind resistant, with a button-in liner also available.

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Alpha Industries M-65 field coat for men


That British brands Roadmaster jacket is actually a field jacket made of waxed cotton. Based on the outerwear manufacturer’s legendary Trialmaster jacket worn by Steve McQueen, the four-pocket shape made the style perfect for motorcyclists and those looking for a more rugged look to the design, if at all possible.

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Founded by Milanese designer Alberto Aspesi in 1969, versions of the M65 from his named label inevitably have a distinctly Italian touch. Slimmer in cut, but more exclusive in materials, they are often made of a garment colored, high density nylon taffeta shell with a removable hood. Beautiful.

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ASPESIA Stonewashed Cotton Jacket


U.S preppy mode The retailer J.Crew calls its bid on the outerwear model a ‘field mechanic’ jacket, no doubt because of the extra details it has attached to the original design. Among them a partial lining, wide wind flap and a pocket on the sleeve – probably for your wrenches.

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Field mechanic jacket


Such is the iconic nature of the field jacket that there is a style to every pocket; and four pockets therefor. Versions from the Spanish fast fashion giant Mango are often made of a nylon-cotton blend and finished with a quilted inner lining and two inner pockets, making them light and light on the purse.

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Field jacket in cotton

A story of service

The field jacket as we know it today was created in 1943 – christened M-1943 or M43; this was the jacket that shaped the multi-pocket, olive sad military look that would be instantly recognizable for decades to come. But the idea for a rugged, multifunctional jacket went back almost a century before then.

The British Army’s efforts against the people of South Africa not only taught them that a khaki fabric was more practical than one in bright red, but introduced the front with many pockets – so useful in the new era of ammunition-intensive repeating rifles – to become the standard issue of the British army tunics for the First World War.

However, the distinctive style really took shape during the next world war. General Quartermaster’s Office – Mainly Those Accused of Inventing and Producing U.S. Army Soldiers’ Sets military clips for clothes – start replacing it. They came with a layering system that could be built up or down depending on the weather conditions, and the key to this was the M43, numbered after its design year. It did not see action until a year later, as part of the U.S. Army’s third division invasion of Italy. Although the fighting there would be among the bloodiest of the war, the soldiers who were fortunate enough to be put out in the M43 field jacket gave it the thumbs up.

But that was far from the end of the field jacket’s history. The military introduced further minor modifications – the use of zippers and snaps on the M51 – before the classic, that is, the M65 came along, replaced the honored collar with a stand-up collar, added a concealed hood and made in a more robust, blended fiber fabric.

“[Today] it is easy to forget what this beautiful jacket design was actually created for, that it was part of the war’s cruel business, ”says Gunn.

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