by Amber Zhai
Like the polar opposite of the much-contested Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, camouflage has burst forth from military and naval ranks and is sweeping the fashion runways and urban streets in 2013. After Dries Van Noten, Valentino, and Kenzo debuted spring collections littered with endless camo accents and print variations, the rest of the fashion world fell in formation and joined the camouflage convoy. That’s right, civilians are now running amok wearing the emblematic military pattern, but with the counterintuitive aim of getting noticed rather than blending in.
So how has this bold yet understated military print pervaded, once again, both street style and high fashion? What makes the camouflage trend this season different from how it’s been worn in the past is the shift from traditional greens, browns and blacks to a greater diversity of color as well as pattern. Pinks, blues, and flashy oranges are not uncommon even in menswear lines. Masculine military swagger combined with flamboyant flair—it seems practically insubordinate, doesn’t it?
Yet, the intent behind the revival of this trend seems genuinely apolitical. Designers simply love the subversive nature of camo and its paradoxical relation to fashion—a disguise for standing out, if you will. However, because of the aggressiveness of the pattern, there’s a slight wear-with-caution sense when dealing with camouflage. As with many things, it’s a slippery slope from trendy to tacky.
At ease, soldiers. Here are some tips for wearing camo with style:
1. Pick out individual colors from the print and coordinate. Use tonal shirts or jackets to offset the boldness of the pattern. For men, wearing a simple undershirt beneath a Camouflage Short Sleeve T-Shirt paired with some worn jeans will give you that casual, off-duty look that’s so irresistible right now.
2. Use camo as the highlight of your outfit. There’s a reason why people are calling camo the “leopard print of men’s wear”—treat it like any other busy print and don’t overdo it. Pair classic items with some camouflage trousers or a nice jacket with a camo lining.
And ladies, don’t let the guys have all the fun! You know that there’s not a place in couture that men hold that women haven’t already claimed. Although this season’s camo trend seems to have begun predominantly with menswear, designers are catering to women’s needs with equal fervor and innovation. Match a Ladies’ Realtree® Camouflage T-Shirt with skinny jeans or denim shorts and combat boots, or add a utility jacket to outfits both simple and girly to create a flirty tomboy combination.