A friend told us this story of a lawyer with a spider tattooed to his wrist. His ink was hidden beneath a sleeve most of the time. But when questioning someone on the stand, the lawyer would flicker his wrist as an intimidation tactic, revealing a flash of the deadly vermin hiding beneath his suit. Sometimes an ever so subtle accent of aggression can be convincing, and we dig it.
For a pattern designed to keep people out of sight, camouflage print is easier to spot than ever. The rugged, masculine, and sometimes divisive pattern has been making comeback waves on the runways of New York and Paris, city streets, and in your Instagram feed. Just ask Jay-Z, Kanye West, Nas, Justin Bieber, or any celebrity who — despite cladding themselves in camo cargo pants, jackets, and more — can’t hide from the cameras (not that they’re trying to, of course).
Camouflage is not a conventionally attractive print — blotchy shapes and muddy colors don’t tend to be a go-to. But that may be why we love it. In this guide, we’re going to show you how to bring a bit of street and militance into your professional wardrobe.
How To Style: Camouflage Print For Professionals
Camo trends have obviously changed over time. From purely functional battle garb, to cringe-worthy pop star outfits in the early 2000s (NSYNC, we’re looking at you), to today’s top streetwear brands like BAPE and Supreme. Now, at the tail end of the 2010s, when everything old is new again, there’s never been a better time to incorporate the legendary pattern into your look. In today’s world of personal branding and digital thought leaders, you can even bring a flare of funky print into professional settings. Be gone, stifled three-piece-suits and paper memos.
Complement the Classics For Your 9-to-5
Camouflage print Jacket, Dark Wash Denim Jeans, Black Sneakers or Dress Shoes. Try this look with Dana Point Dots Sock
Do: A military-style jacket works for any season. Chances are, you already own a shirt, a pair of pants, and a pair of shoes that will complement your new favorite coat. But if you don’t, we recommend you snatch up some go-to classics like dark-wash denim, a fitted polo shirt or long-sleeve thermal, and slick tennis shoes: slip-on Vans or Supergas. If you want to take a slight risk, sport a pair of polka dot socks in a similar color scheme. By complementing camouflage print with dark solid colors, this look becomes work-appropriate in casual offices.
Don’t: Classic doesn’t mean boring or sloppy. If you’re going to go for a simple look, make sure the pieces you are wearing are as crisp and clean as can be. Tapered khakis and leather loafers with a camo jacket make for an interesting combination that’s still polished. Distressed jeans, a ratty gym T-shirt, and a torn jacket — try again.
Camouflage Print Chinos
Camouflage Print Chinos, Leather Dress Shoes, Bright Yellow Laces
Do: Camo can be intimidating to print newbies. So, when preparing to style a bold piece like camouflage pants, imagine that the bottoms are actually just olive green. It’s significantly easier to match items with a neutral color like olive green than it is a bold print. If you trick your brain into eliminating the intimidation that accompanies camo, the print will immediately feel more wearable. While the bottoms pair well with black, white, and navy, you might feel compelled to branch out and add a pop of a trending bright color, like bright red or yellow.
Don’t: Beware of getting too kitschy. This means, although your camouflage print makes you look as cool and collected as a soldier, it’s important to remember you are not actually in the military. By no means does the average man need to pair a camouflage print jacket with combat boots and a beret. You’ll also want to limit the number of trends you’re representing in a single outfit, especially in professional context. Camo, an already trending item, doesn’t need to be paired with “dad sneakers” and oversized fits.
Camouflage Print Ties
Camouflage Woodland Skinny Tie and Dark Blazer or Sweater Vest
Do: A subtle splash of camo can be a stylish way to differentiate yourself from the standard cycle of business bland. To sneak camouflage print into your professional wardrobe, try playing with different color variations of the print. For instance, a camouflage skinny tie in blue tones pairs nicely with dark gray trousers, while a camouflage dress shirt in red tones can add a work-appropriate edge to a chocolate brown sports coat.
Don’t: It’s fun to bring some unexpected camo in the workplace every now and then, but don’t be that guy that shows up every day to work with a camo something. (Exception: If you work at Bass Pro Shop or are a legit member of the military, please proceed.) Let camouflage print be your introduction to the world of prints, and don’t forget to add other classics like stripes and plaid in the mix every now and then.
The Many Lives of Camouflage Print
Thanks to Supreme, Balmain, and APC, in recent years, camo has become synonymous with street culture. It wasn’t always that way, though. Rooted in nationalism, camouflage print started in the 1800s as a disruption to the conventional military look, for a very functional reason. Soldiers once wore bright colors in battle (think: British red coats) so that they’d be visible amidst all the cannon smoke. However, when trench and aerial warfare became key strategies during World War I, it was necessary for soldiers to remain unseen. Enter the camouflers — designers hired by militaries to develop under-the-radar garb, worn today by fashion-forward men and hunters alike.
By the war’s end, camouflage print was incorporated into paintings, posters, accessories, and of course, clothing. In the 1970s and ’80s, the familiar green, brown, and black woodland pattern became a statement for pop culture’s biggest names, including Andy Warhol, who released a series of multi-color camouflage prints in ’87 before he passed.
Similar to the newfound love for fanny packs, floral shirts, and tiny sunglasses, camouflage print may feel like an odd trend because of the memories associated with it. For the modern man now in his late 20s and early 30s, camo is a reminder of WWE superstars, NSYNC style mishaps, and your G.I. Joe action figures. Yet despite how counterintuitive it can seem to reinvent something that seemed like a fashion-don’t as a kid, this versatile print has made an undeniably impressive comeback, and it will work wonders in your daily wardrobe.
Camouflage Print: Sharpen Your Edge
Camo has never really gone out of style. It’s clear that the print can work, even at work. Demonstrate your ability to disrupt an industry with a bit of stylish risk-taking. Blending into the crowd isn’t an option when you’re a camo connoisseur.
What would you wear to stand out to a client or employer? Let us know below