Putting modern surplus to use is easy, but finding and using vintage military pieces the right way to create the kind of look you want is difficult. You first must decide what kind of look you're going for. Stylish and mature? Rugged and carefree? Dark and mysterious?
Depending upon which you decide, there is a plethora of military surplus from which to choose. M65 jackets, trench coats, various military caps, even different styles of camouflage can work. Choosing the right pieces and colors/patterns will aid you in creating your look. Just be wary of using too much camouflage or camo that is too loud or just doesn't work.
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The stylish, old-world aristocratic look in the photo above was put together using a WW2-era U.S. Marine Corp. jacket combined with vintage civilian pieces. This shows us that utilizing one or perhaps even two military pieces with civilian pieces is key. If we take multiple military pieces and put them together we'll look like we're trying too hard or, worse yet, we'll look like we just came out of combat. Simplicity and moderation are the keys to make the vintage military look work well. Too much military and you look like a soldier, too little and it won't be unique.
Below is a pretty poor quality 'selfie' of myself several months ago while it was still cool outside. I'm wearing a vintage newsboy cap, an unissued M43 combat jacket, a rare original WW2 paratrooper's scarf made of camouflage parachute material, and, unseen, a pair of dress trousers (look at that ugly mug).
I've combined two vintage military pieces with other rather manly accoutrements to create what I believe to be a rugged yet stylish and maybe even 'elegant' look. Something that stands out in the crowd, is pleasing to the eye, but still looks tough while remaining pretty casual. It's something you'd wear for a stroll in the country or to see a man about a dog.
A favorite style of jacket of mine is the old M42 paratrooper jacket. With it's large, bellowed saddle pockets, belted waist, angled chest pockets, and gusseted back not only looks great but speaks of utilitarianism. It's a great look that could, if desired, be paired with either jeans or trousers for a casual look.
The M42 brings to mind the safari jackets of old or even the famous Belstaff racing jacket.
Heck, there's even a reproduction M42 available in modern Multicam camouflage. I actually kind of like it.
There's all sorts of vintage military pieces that you can use to create your own, unique military inspired look. Experiment with what you can find to see what works and what doesn't. Don't just wear the woodland camouflage pants like everyone else, try something new and unusual, I think you'll be pleasantly surprised! The choices are limitless.