The Style Column

How Not to Do The Military Look

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It's time to dust off your finest military gear and wage war on the 'onesie', says our style columnist Jeremy Langmead.

I’m relieved that winter’s on its way out. Not because I hate the cold, or the dark morning commute, but because too many men decided that because it was chilly and damp outside they were entitled to dress all snuggly-buggly, cosy-wosy in a great big adult Babygro.

Alarmingly, a lot of you thought it fine to waddle around town in what is known as a “onesie”. Dancing on Ice stars were papped wearing them; sporting heroes tweeted pictures of themselves and their girlfriends in matching onesies on Christmas Day; blokes built like brick shithouses strolled around supermarkets seemingly unaware how comical they looked.

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How did this happen? When did we decide to put comfort before pride? How come we decided to start dressing like babies and pretend the big bad world outside wasn’t our problem? It might be easier to wear a nappy than dash to the bathroom every time we need the loo, but, as adults, we know that would be wrong.

I’m going to have to admit something here in case an eager-beaver Twitter follower writes in. I own a onesie, and shamelessly tweeted a picture of myself wearing it after having drunk 8,000 bottles of wine on Christmas Day.

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My excuse is it was a present chosen by my ex-wife; the ex-wife who last year bought me a Nespresso machine despite the fact I hadn’t drunk a cup of coffee for 18 years. She’s a fan of the random present; one way of ensuring she buys me something I don’t own already, I presume.

Anyhow, we all laughed when I unwrapped the onesie. I put it on, tweeted the picture, and can now never deny owning one. I have to admit, from that brief time I spent encased in my Nordic-patterned, fleece-lined body bag, the onesie is comfortable and it does negate the need to choose a more complex outfit to wear for the day.

It is also the most emasculating item of clothing a grown man can possibly elect to wear.

I have a theory most onesies worn by men this year were bought by women; it’s all part of a giant game plan by the opposite sex to take over the world. The onesie should be classified as a terrorist threat.

So, now that we are at sartorial war with the ladies, I’m happy to say the spring/summer collections have just what we need to fight back. As if the designers were aware that this winter was going to see us go all soft and gooey, they’ve put together some far more gender-appropriate, grrr-friendly fashion inspired by the military.

Wandering through the stores, you can’t help but wonder if the families of last year’s deceased dictators are trying to flog off their dearly departed’s uniforms to raise some exile-ready cash. Admittedly, there probably aren’t many of you thinking, “Hmm, spring’s approaching and I’ve come over all Kim Jong-il.

Where can I get a nice field jacket?” But if I’m wrong, and you’re feeling exactly that, then I have just the place for you: Google ‘Kim Jong-il looking at things’ and be amazed.

Although full military uniforms can look rather splendid, out of context they can look a wee bit wanky: Coldplay’s stage outfits spring to mind, as do The Village People. There’s also the unfortunate fact when civilians don uniforms they inexplicably tend to start marching for no reason.

My ex-wife — yes, her again — once bought a Chairman Mao-inspired denim suit from Marks & Spencer. It wasn’t her best buy, and after I told her she looked like a Chinese lesbian, she insisted on marching up and down the sitting room until I had apologised. Bizarre behaviour.

Yet, despite these setbacks, there is something to be said for a military touch here and there. If you’ve been wearing a onesie, some of these pieces will man you up in no time.
Both Gucci and Lanvin have done navy cotton military jackets with brass buttons, Incotex and Polo Ralph Lauren have neat lines of cargo pants, the Japanese label Beams Plus has designed some dapper camouflage shorts, Burberry has its trench coats, Belstaff its leather flight jackets, while Church’s, Grenson, Mark McNairy and Alexander McQueen all have army-style boots on offer.

This summer, I promise, it’s definitely best to look to An Officer and a Gentleman or Top Gun for inspiration rather than a Care Bear or the Teletubbies. I implore you: ditch the onesie. If you’re more than two years old, twosies and threesies will look infinitely better.

Jeremy Langmead is the editor-in-chief of Mr Porter

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