Unexpected Layering: The M-43 Field Jacket

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As fall gets closure, it’s time to be basic and wear your Basic Green Jackets.  We’ve seen them before with a casual attire, but what about with a suit?

If you’ve kept up with my blog, you’ll know the phenomenon of the BGJ: the basic green jacket.  There’s something about having a cotton jacket in an olive/forest green that makes it a perfect piece for fall! It definitely works well with black jeans, blue jeans, or even grey flannel trousers.  No wonder girls love wearing it! 

Now most guys today either wear the parka/anorak or a field jacket, with the latter being the M-64 , named for being the American military field jacket in 194 (duh).  Now field jackets, like most military clothing) are inherently cool.  They are made of a sturdy cotton (that you can wax to be water proof) and have plenty of pockets due to its utilitarian nature.  The M-65 version is interesting because it has a “stand up collar” to protect you from the elements. I’m personally not a fan of this detail, as I prefer a collar/lapel combo, like the ones you see on a shirt jacket or an overcoat.   That’s why I prefer the M-43.

When comparing the M-43 and the M-64, it all comes down to the collar for me.  The stand up collar on the M-64 makes it just a bit too casual for me, preventing its use with my Ivy/1930’s style.  With the M-43, you are able to prop it up as you would on an ulster coat, which I think is much cooler.  So imagine my surprise when Joyride: Vintage for Men, had a true vintage one in my size!

My M-43 wasn’t in perfect condition, but I definitely love that fact.  It makes it look used and lived in (which is a fact, since it’s from the 1940’s) which adds character to the garment.    We’ve already seen how the BGJ works with casual pieces like tees, sweaters, and jeans, but how does it stack up with tailoring?  Most of the time, you see it with either something super streetwear or something slightly americana/casual.   I was intrigued to see how the ruggedness of the jacket would play with my cleanly tailored pieces, so that’s where this article came in.

The Outfit

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Compared to my other “unorthodox layering” article, I think this one feels more natural.  I’ll be honest, I’m not sure what I was thinking when I wore a denim jacket under a suit.  However, having this field jacket over the suit works!  The olive color works well with brown suit (earth tones ftw) and is just long enough to cover the entire suit and work as a coat.

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Combining military/utility garments and tailored suits isn’t a new thing.  As much as it pains me to say, GQ has endorsed a similar look with the parka; Articles of style did it too. My inspiration for this came from HVRMINN and Bryceland’s co.  Minn Hurr was featured on AOS with a very close ensemble, wearing his vintage inspired suit with a Vietto NYC military-style jacket.  Ethan Newton photographed a camo M-65 with a vest and tee for a psuedo-workwear/vintage vibe; his partner in crime Kenji Cheung actually wore the field jacket with a pinstripe suit (sans jacket).

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I also took the opportunity to combine patterns!  Note that I’m wearing three at once: microhoundstooth suit, striped shirt, and printed tie.  It’s a pretty 1930’s thing to do, and is pretty different than how most guys combine patterns in a suit.  Just remember the scaling your patterns is the key to pulling it off!

1940’s M-43 Field Jacket, Suit by Indochino, Custom shirt from Natty Shirts,

1940’s tie, Suede Derbies by Zara

Conclusion

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While it’s a definitely edgy #menswear look of combining unconventional pieces, mine was rooted in necessity.  It was raining this day, and I needed to wear a suit to work.  My trenchcoat was at my parents house, so the only thing that could fit over my suit was my “new” 1940’s M-43 Field Jacket!  The slightly baggy fit worked in my favor, as I could wear my suit underneath it completely.   Looked pretty badass, in my opinion, and worked well against the light fall rain!

Now, like with most of the stuff I wear, this look isn’t for everyone.  This particular look is special because it’s not “too vintage”, but something that is almost straight out of GQ or by one of the peacocks at Pitti Uomo.  Your workplace may not like the fact that you’re wearing a vintage military coat with your tailored suit.  I suggest maybe ditching the suit coat and tie if you want to keep the field jacket with your tailored pieces.  There are plenty of modern and slimmer field jackets out there, so they might be better suited to your wardrobe if you don’t want to buy something old and used.

If wearing a BGJ with a suit is too much, I suggest reading our previous articles on the subject.  Last year, we introduced you guys to the garment. and even showed a full coat version worn by our friend Jay.  There’s plenty of inspiration to choose from, if you want to add the Basic Green Jacket to your wardrobe.  Whether you buy new or grab a vintage one, you’ll find that it’s a perfect piece for fall since it’ll go with everything whether its jeans, trousers, or a full suit.

Always a pleasure,

Ethan W.

Street x Sprezza

Photography by Scott E.  

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7 comments

  1. Jacob · October 21

    How did you go about sizing? I know some downsize as the jackets are oversized as part of the layering system they were designed for.

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    • Ethan W. · October 21

      I was actually lucky enough to try it on in person at the store! Most military jackets have a basic size (38,40) but most of the time, the chest size is way bigger for the reason you mentioned.

      Luckily mine fit the shoulders well (as it is supposed to) and I just decided to keep it! Sleeves were a bit baggy (since this is true vintage), but if shoulders were fine and the length isn’t too long, I say go for it.

      If you want something snug, then size down from a surplus store or true to size for a modern one. It all depends what you want to use it for. Some guys wear them with tees and jeans while I prefer to add some stuff underneath!

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