Utilitarian Trend – Looks that Command Attention

They say there’s nothing like a man in a uniform, and in the world of fashion that goes for women too! The Utilitarian trend, half army/half safari continues to march on!  Here’s what to wear, and how to style it to get the look.

army jacket

1. Build on One Key Piece: The Army Jacket

The easiest way to capture the military vibe is to choose a  key piece and build around it. For most women that will be an army style utility jacket. Army jackets have been around for while but are still going strong because they are a fun way to add some casual cool to an outfit. Stripes are a natural complement. 

army vest

You’ll find many variations on the army jacket, including the military vest. What they all have in common are details like epaulets, top stitching, zippers, tab sleeves, and brass buttons. To see some different types take a look at this street chic post of my readers in their army jackets.

Style Tip: Don’t wear the utilitarian look head- to- toe. An army jacket with skinny jeans and sandals is on trend, but an army jacket with camo pants and heavy combat boots will make you look like you actually belong in the armed forces. A little is enough.

safari dress

2. Style it Feminine – The Safari Dress 

The utilitarian look can be quite masculine, so to soften it up you need to add some feminine touches.  Safari style clothing like this stone linen dress looks pretty in this shapely wrap style.  Wear it with strappy wedges, lots some braided leather and  rustic gold jewelry and a sophisticated, structured bag to look more refined and ladylike.

Other ways to make the Utilitarian look more feminine might be to wear your skirt a little shorter, try a drapey or soft fabric (ie: soft, fluid cargo pants or a soft suede dress ), or emphasize your womanly waist with a great belt.

military jacket

3. Add a Shot of Contrasting Color or Pattern to Stand Out 

The colors of the utilitarian look can be rather dull on their own – olive, navy, camel, taupe, black so this season designers are showing this look with a touch of  bright color or a big, fun pattern thrown in. For example, here’s a classic military color scheme with a surprise print. Another option might be a bright pink purse. The bold pattern/color catches you off guard and gives this utilitarian outfit a modern twist.

Orange and Yellow are also popular brights that are being combined with the utilitarian palette. To see what I mean, just take a look at my post on Safari style.

So what do you think? Do you salute spring’s utilitarian look, or is it still too dull and masculine for you? I’d love to know your opinion.


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7 thoughts on “Utilitarian Trend – Looks that Command Attention

  1. There is no one look for everybody! I love the military style and think it looks great on me. If one is “Dressing your Truth”, it either works for you or it doesn’t. This is why I dress for me and don’t follow what someone else says is the “in” look now. :-) Sorry but I also disagree with the statement “The colors of the utilitarian look can be rather dull on their own – olive, navy, camel,” etc.
    Olive and Camel are my go to neutrals. I don’t own a stitch of black which is dull on me.

  2. I love this utilitarian/military look. I am already set to go with a jacket similar to the one shown. The other suggestions are fabulous and will be keeping these in mind this Spring as I pull together my wardrobe.

  3. Ohfergoshsakes. NO this isn’t too dull or masculine. It’s just like wearing a ‘tough’ looking leather jacket with a ruffled shirt, or a floral scarf, high heels, or a pretty floral belt with jeans. It’s playing one thing off another which is interesting and engaging.

    How does one carry a bright pink purse while sporting high heels and think that is “too dull or masculine?”

  4. We have seen both before. The safari look dated to the 90s and evidently still looks the same. The military look was crazy in the 80’s thanks to Michael Jackson and sister Janet, then went on to spawn some hideous camouflage craze that we still cannot get rid of. That includes camp print in neon (sort of defeats purpose of “camo”).
    Anyhow, I like the trend as you show it. Why? It is clean and simple. I also think Marsala, the color of the year, would incorporate easily into it. As long as I don’t have to enlist, I will wear it.