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Look back far enough and you’ll find that a surprising amount of modern clothing has its origins in the military. Boots, cargo pants, aviator sunglasses and plenty of other fashion staples began as military uniform — even the modern suit jacket is a direct descendant of cavalry officers’ coats. Right now, the best army jackets are some of our favorite military-inspired pieces.
The army jacket (a.k.a. the field jacket) first gained traction in the fashion world in the seventies as the garment of counterculture anti-war protesters. It was then popularized through movies like Taxi Driver, Annie Hall, and Serpico, which all saw main characters donning the military coat.
Most of the army jacket’s details are now instantly recognizable: The cotton shell, flap pockets on the chest and waist, a stand-up collar and a drawstring around the waist serve both fashion and function. Today, the best army jackets are as popular as ever with appearances on the backs of stylish celebrities from David Beckham to Jay-Z. Delivering a casual yet subtly edgy look, the best field jackets make a great transitional piece for fall or spring. Best of all, a good number of army jackets are water-repellent to stay dry in the rain.
The Best Army Jackets
If you’re in need of a lightweight piece of casual outerwear, army jackets are a great option. Read on for the best army jackets to buy right now.
1. Alpha Industries M-65 Field Jacket
Alpha Industries makes some of the most iconic military surplus pieces — perhaps most notably this M-65 field jacket. Boasting an olive green sateen shell, stand-up collar, shoulder epaulettes and plenty of pockets, the M-65 has all the trappings of an original army jacket. It’s still very functional in the 21st century thanks to the wind, water, and tear-resistant sateen. Inside the collar is a roll-up hood, and a removable lining makes the jacket wearable in almost any weather.
2. Buck Mason Bunker Twill Field Jacket
For a modern take on the army jacket, go for this Bunker jacket from Buck Mason. Made of woven cotton twill with antique brass hardware and flap chest pockets, the jacket’s military inspiration is very present. Where it differs is a lighter weight (ideal for layering), a folded collar and a soft feel from a process called sanding. Wear it with crisp jeans, clean sneakers and a tee or crewneck sweater for a killer weekend look.
3. Madewell Slim Fit Field Jacket
This field jacket from Madewell is another modernization of the military staple. Thanks to a slim, unstructured fit, the jacket works great for casual yet pulled-together outfits. Madewell chose to keep quite a few details from the original army jacket including a packable hood, a drawstring waist and flap pockets on the chest and waist. Because it’s unlined, we recommend layering the jacket or wearing it in mild weather.
4. J. Crew Garment-dyed M65 jacket
J. Crew’s take on the M65 is one of the more popular field jackets out there — and it’s easy to see why. The fabric, which comes in either navy or hillside green, is a premium cotton canvas that’s been garment-dyed for a vintage, worn-in look. The jacket boasts plenty of space for any EDC kit with hip welt pockets, flap chest pockets and interior patch pockets. It also has a stowable hood on the collar and a two-way zip closure. We recommend wearing this one with chinos, a button-up and modern sneakers for a night out.
5. Fjällräven Rven Field Jacket
If green is a bit too military for your taste, check out this black Rven jacket from Fjällräven. The color offers loads of versatility, allowing you to pair the jacket with more dressy pieces such as slacks and Chelsea boots, for example. With a water-resistant polyester-cotton fabric, the jacket can also handle rain. Like any great army jacket, you still get plenty of storage in the form of dual-entry welt pockets, chest pockets and an interior zip pocket.
6. Aspesi Cotton-Drill Field Jacket
This Aspesi x Mr. Porter field jacket injects some designer-level quality into the military piece. Made in Italy using a tough cotton-drill fabric, the jacket has combat-ready durability despite its designer label. Military-inspired details on the exterior include epaulettes on the shoulders, flap pockets at the waist and chest and a packable hood. The lining, meanwhile, is made of cotton and nylon for extra warmth.
7. Valstar Suede Field Jacket
If you want to switch things up with some western style, this suede field jacket from Valstar is a great option. The jacket’s premium camel suede and spread collar make it great for dressing up, although it’s still easy to pair with jeans and a tee for an elevated casual look. However, Valstar hasn’t forgotten the practicality of a classic field jacket by including six pockets (five on the exterior and one inside) as well as a drawstring waist.