When it comes to a signature style, it may seem like your only choices these days are girlie prim and proper, heroin chic or flowy-hippie-boho, making you feel like you’re shopping for a Halloween costume instead of carving out your own fashion calling card.
Your daily wardrobe is a lot easier to navigate when it’s more like a uniform, but who wants to wear a boring uniform? The trick is to buy pieces that have uniform appeal from unexpected sources to keep you from blending in. That’s where the utilitarian trend comes in so handy. It’s polished, functional and (usually) wash-and-wear. Take it from a former Catholic schoolgirl: This uniform is sexy and cool in a whole new way. Here are your tips for nailing the classic utilitarian look while keeping your own signature style in the mix.
There are tons of tutorials littering YouTube with crafty solutions to saving money and ‘recreating’ military-inspired looks from the runways of Gucci and Givenchy. And while most of these are great for couture-obsessed teens, they are not even polished enough for business meetings or brunch.
Here’s how you pull off this look without looking like you’re playing dress-up: Get real. Utilitarian is useful, purposeful clothing. It’s very definition is to be functional, like keep you warm or keep you organized (yay pockets-a-plenty!). That is why you need to go directly to the source.
If you search for ‘military surplus clothing’ online, you get just as many results for ASOS and American Eagle as you do for real military fatigues, so get specific. Crazy classic bomber jackets and the ultimate boyfriend-style cargo pants are best found at the actual Army or Navy surplus store. You want to make sure these fit like a glove, so avoid Amazon for these pieces and visit your local surplus in person. It’s like thrift store shopping on steroids.
Did we mention it’s surprisingly affordable and your money goes to support veterans? Fall shopping doesn’t get any better than that.
Suited and Booted
Time to top off this look. The last thing you want to do is finish off these true-to-life military staples with the wrong shoe. Even the classic and widely coveted Hunter boots feel a little too mainstream and predictable. And while Army surplus does have some great boots, you should really buy them new. Cabela’s has serious boots for every wet and muddy terrain imaginable that will keep you warm, comfy and on trend as well. They even have furry boots that are waterproof, lace up, and ready to kick winter’s butt. Can we get an amen for the death of the Ugg trend?!
Top It Off Right
Speaking of unspeakable trends, the black flying saucer hat trend was dead back in the ’80s. No matter what your signature style, no one looks good with an old vinyl record attached to the crown of her head. Not to mention, how does it stay on? One gust of wind and that black hat is getting blown right off your head and back a few decades, where it belongs.
Go for a classic beanie (not one that looks like a deflated balloon hanging off the back of the head) with the extra fold to keep your ears extra toasty. Another look we like: This modern mix between a cowboy hat and an Australian outback topper. Think Kim Basinger in “I Dream of Africa.” Fabulous.