Oct 01, 2014

The M-65 Field Jacket - An Introduction

Lordy, things have been busy! Working on figuring out how...

Lordy, things have been busy! Working on figuring out how to handle a posting schedule with some new personal developments, so bear with me.

Slow start to this week, blog-wise, but I'm excited about this post, in which we are taking an in-depth look at the classic M-65 field jacket:
M-65 Field Coat | Alpha Industries - $150
First, just a little background about that number. When looking at military-based outerwear (like the M-65), you will almost always see it referred to as a letter with a number attached. The letter designates the style of the jacket, but the number refers to the year it was released. In this case, the M-65 was released in 1965, and was a replacement of the M-51, which was - you guessed it - last updated in 1951.

Now, I'm no expert on military gear, but my understanding is that, in comparison to some of the more specialized outerwear like bomber jackets and pilot jackets that were specifically made for, well, pilots, the M-65 was a much more general issue. It was widely released to ground troops, especially in the Vietnam war, where it was highly useful as protection against post-monsoon chills and the generally damp weather and fluctuating temperatures.

Design-wise, the M-65 upgraded from the M-51 with a packable hood (as opposed to a detachable one) that disappears into a pocket in the collar, and velcro fasteners at the cuffs and collar. It also continued the signature four pocket design, olive green shade, upper-thigh length, and heavy canvas construction that became standard through the previous iterations. Also available were an optional heavier quilted lining and button-on fur trim for the hood, both of which up the insulation for soldiers in colder climates.

Originally issued exclusively to the military, the M-65 has since become widely available (and popular) among the general public. The features remain the same, but the color-ways have expanded and you can now find the jacket in a huge range of colors, although military-ish (yep, making that a term) colors like khaki, camo, navy, and the original olive green remain the most common. Likewise, the original jacket was designed and produced by Alpha Industries (see above), but these days most of your favorite brands make their own version, from affordable brands...
Field Jacket | Uniqlo - $79.90
Ripstop Fatigue Jacket | Gap - $98

Lightweight Nylon Military Jacket | Frank & Oak - $125

Garrison Field Jacket | J.Crew - $188

...as well as a variety of higher-end designers:

Lightweight Combat Jacket | Polo Ralph Lauren - $295
Field Jacket | Paul Smith - $455 (on sale for $318 at time of posting)
Cashmere-Blend Field Jacket | Armani Collezioni - $1,045

I mentioned the popularity of the jacket style among the public, and the demand has only gone up as the military trend has boomed over the past few years, but what I really love about the jacket is the place it has cemented in pop culture. This thing is virtually everywhere, with my personal favorites being Robert Deniro as Travis Bickle in Taxi Driver (arguably the most iconic use of the jacket), and Linda Cardellini as Lindsay Weir in Freaks and Geeks. You can find a more extensive list of it's appearances on Wikipedia that not only shows the versatility of the jacket across genders and body types, but also across genres (but always with a link back to it's military heritage).

Tune in again soon, as I have a M-65 from Alpha Industries on the way for an in-person review and styling tips, hopefully ready in the next week or two!

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tagged alpha industries, details, fall style, field jacket, jackets, m-65...