Real People: Fatigue Pants

June 17, 2013

Real People: Fatigue Pants

Of course, we all read Put This On, so all of our pants are perfectly tailored: Fitted in the waist, slim through the thigh, draping elegantly down our calves to end in an ideal break over our frankly breathtaking (hand-welted) shoes. But when I need a break from worrying about breaks, it can be comforting to pull on a pair of pants designed for utility. Military-style, olive drab fatigue pants are probably not the most often re-purposed surplus gear (M-65s take that prize), but they are exceedingly wearable. They’re an interesting alternative to plain cotton khakis (also military derived) for wear with plaid shirts and worn-in shoes, like Daiki Suzuki of Engineered Garments, and can even be reasonably swapped in for more formal trousers if you’re in a position to be a little subversive, like Gary Drinkwater, pictured in his shop in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Gary’s colors are neutral and well-balanced, and he looks relaxed rather than sloppy, which can be a concern with fatigues, especially surplus versions.

Such pants can be found vintage in a number of models: pants from the OG-107 U.S. military work uniform (standard issue for the second half of the 20th century; OG-107 really designates the color, olive gray); M-1951 cargo pants; or more recent Battle Dress Uniform (BDU) trousers. They are best purchased in person because the sizing varied over the years and many if not most pants were altered after issuance, so actual measurements may not match tagged sizes. Although fatigues can sometimes be tailored to fit trimly, the bagginess is in my opinion the interesting aspect and on its own is “different” enough—pinrolling can help narrow them at the ankle. Camouflage patterns are best left to the military or utility purposes around the house, like yardwork.

Gary’s pants were purchased new, from Engineered Garments sub-brand Workaday (I have a pair from Workaday myself, as well as a couple of vintage pairs). Daiki Suzuki has offered a pair in his collection nearly every season for years, but they vary in fabric and cut—some are trimmer than others, and spring/summer versions are lighter weight. They’re currently available at Engineered Garments stockists like Drinkwaters or Mohawk General Store.