Much like other facets of the apparel industry, trends and collections in the world of menswear can be generally stamped as either timely or timeless. While some pieces and concepts seemingly exist for a mere 15 minutes–and are thus appropriately deemed “in (or out of) fashion”–other collections possess a near-everlasting, envious lifespan and are marked with the “timeless style” moniker.
One well that seems to never run dry for sartorial inspiration is military wear; more specifically, the M-65 Jacket. Short for “M-1965,” the year of it’s debut and first use, it served as a replacement for U.S. troops world-wide of the M-1951 field jacket, which in turn was the second iteration of the M-1943 field jacket from World War II.
Today, the M-65 jacket has realized such an immense resurgence and level of ubiquity within vintage clothing circles that it almost lives in a category of it’s own. What is it about the garment that differentiates it from the rest? More importantly, who should you look to if you’re in the market for an M-65 jacket?
For those in need of direction and guidance, read on for our complete guide to the classic M-65 jacket.
What makes the M-65 so special?
As alluded to earlier, countless trends, concepts, brands, etc. rise and fall within the span of a fews months or seasons. In spite of this common pitfall, the M-65 has seemingly managed to carve out it’s own position and hold strong for decades.
The unrivalled value offered by this garment can be boiled down to several core qualities, including: enduring construction, timeless aesthetic, and pure versatility.
1. Enduring Construction
Given its deep history and the context of its application, it should come as no surprise that the M-65 is built to last. While not all current-day makes or models may be made to the same standard as those fifty years ago, the thoughtful and purposeful anatomy of the jacket is what creates it’s relentless endurance.
In the above graphic, we’ve noted some key elements unique to the M-65, such as the snap-flat cargo pockets, concealed hood, and adjustable drawstring waist and bottom. Again there may be some variation within today’s modern models, but the result of the combination of these features is unique to the M-65. In fact, you might even notice that many of these aspects incorporated into numerous other jackets today.
2. Timeless Aesthetic
As we eluded to earlier, one of the M-65‘s biggest strengths is the balance it strikes between function and form. It certainly has all of the construction qualities to protect one from the elements, but it also possesses a clean, timeless aesthetic that is not always easy to obtain.
Though there’s likely a laundry list of ways to dissect the jacket’s look and feel, we’ll focus on two high points – fit and layering ability. Whether you prefer a more loose and relaxed fit or fitted and slim cut, you would be hard-pressed to not find a comfortably fitted M-65; particularly with the extra lining and adjustable waistband drawstrings.
Given the great physical flexibility of the M-65, it’s literally perfect for layering with any other type of garments; from a simple t-shirt or polo to a thick sweater or shirt (as pictured above). Indeed, the combination of just these two qualities is what helps the jacket soar past the test of time.
3. Pure Versatility
Similar to it’s rugged construction and thoughtful design, the M-65 is an entirely versatile piece optimal for nearly any environment and setting. Again, due to it’s build and aesthetic, not only will the jacket hold up well – and age beautifully -with years of wear, but it will do so through rain, shine, or snow.
Our Top M-65 Jackets
True vintage hounds would accept nothing less than the genuine article, and for that there’s eBay. But for those that prefer to buy new and have their clothes smell nice, there are also a wide range of makes and models for reproduction M-65 jackets.
Entry Level – Alpha Industries M-65 Field Coat
Plain and simple, Alpha Industries is to M-65 jackets what Levi’s is to denim. As a military wear producer for over 50 years, Alpha has earned the enviable title as one of the primary suppliers to the U.S. Army and Navy since 1959. Not only do they specialize in the M-65, but also myriad other staple military apparel, including the sibling MA-1 flight jacket and various heavy-duty, incredibly technical pants and other garments.
Equipped with their deep expertise and domain experience, Alpha successfully built it’s own line of heritage, casual military wear while still incorporating it’s proprietary manufacturing techniques. Their M-65 is proof of their relentless focus to producing strong, reliable outerwear. You can’t go wrong with what they have to offer.
Available at Alpha Industries for $150
Mid Level – Buzz Rickson’s 1968 Model M-65
The name Buzz Rickson is synonymous with high-quality repros of American WWII gear. The name may sound very American, but Buzz is based in Japan. Their version takes on the 1968 edition of M-65 down to the very stitch. If you want something as authentic as possible without vintage smell, look no further.
Available at Rakuten for $325
End Level – The Real McCoy’s M-65 2nd Model “OG107”
As one of the most revered Japanese vintage labels, The Real McCoy’s seeks creative inspiration within American fashion from the 1940’s and 50’s. As they’re so dedicated to producing the best possible military repro wear, they offer an unparalleled level of craftsmanship to their collections; to the extent that they use manufacturing techniques and machinery from this time period.
Given the nature of their focus, their line would be incomplete if they weren’t to include their very own M-65. In their version, we see a 100% cotton outer shell combined with a 50% cotton / 50% polyester inner lining. Just how it was done 50 years ago, the zippers use a Scoville wire type pull-tab and the hood a talon non-locking oval pull-tab. In other words–a truly immaculate piece.
Available at Blue In Green for $798