Over the course of human history there have been thousands of different types of army jacket. The earliest ones even existed before there were what are today recognised as armies. Often the clothing that all the members of early tribes wore was similar as it had all came from the local animals that the tribe managed to catch.
As “civilization” progressed and the processing of animal skins and such like developed, regional or area differences in clothing developed.
When humanity got itself “organized” into armies, the need to be able to tell “your” side from the “other” side was swiftly recognised. Fortunately most of the identification problems had already been solved with the continued use of different clothing.
As the army uniforms evolved, so did the jacket which has always formed an integral part of military clothing. Like so many other forms of clothing, it evolved into different forms which themselves kept changing.
Even the materials changed. From jackets initially made of animal hides, there arose vastly different materials. In the case of the knights of European history, jackets made of metal, such as linked chains became part of their military clothing. While very useful at deflecting spears and arrows, they were also very heavy. As the knights generally had a horse on which to get around, this was not too great a problem – until they no longer had a horse under them.
During the American Civil War, the uniforms often depended on what materials were available locally.
Some of the army jackets from around 200 years ago seemed to concentrate more on fashion than the realism of war. When the camouflage style of the modern army jacket is considered, the sight of the scarlet jackets of some of the infantry units of those days is almost unbelievable. But that was the style of some of the military units of those times. Those jackets also appear to have hindered the wearer’s movements.
Over the last 100 years or so there has been a greater emphasis on the mobility of the wearer and this has been reflected in the design and materials used. In quite a few cases the materials were not necessarily the most appropriate, but like all military organisations, nothing is perfect. In fact, sometimes the people responsible for making such decisions do not seem to ever be able to get it right! Normally they do not have to wear the garment either.
These days the average army jacket (apart from those designed for parades and formal occasions) tend to be reasonably comfortable to wear, enable the wearer to move around fairly easily and blend in with the surroundings. No more scarlet tunics out in the bush!
There is a large range of replica army jackets available ranging from traditional designs which faithfully replicate the jackets of the period that they are supposed to be from, to jackets which at best could be described as based on someone’s idea of what a jacket from a certain period in history may (or may not) have looked like.
While it is possible to simply look through a range of jackets to find one that you like, it is better to have an idea of the particular style or era that you want a jacket from before starting your search. If you can decide on the design that you are looking for first, it will make your search a lot easier.
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