Today, it’s fashionable to wear military clothing and footwear, but most people don’t think about the rich history behind these items. Both Canada and the US have a long military history, and military items were functional rather than fashionable in these life-or-death situations. However, today it’s stylish to wear military gear such as dog tags, combat boots and army pants. Other items such as bathing suits, shorts and even dresses are even patterned with the classic military camouflage pattern. Whether you’re wearing Canadian or American army clothing to be patriotic or simply love the way you look in olive-green khaki pants, take a look at some of the history behind army uniforms.
The word uniform comes from the Latin “unas” and “forma,” which means “one form.” That’s why items such as the green uniform have become synonymous with the army; the military has always ensured that soldiers all look similar. Depending on a soldier’s rank, his Canadian or American military clothing would be decorated with patches, metal bands or stripes that showed how high up he was. Military uniforms used in colder climates were heavier and soldiers wore fur hats and gloves to stay warm. In warm climates, soldiers wore short-sleeved uniforms made from lightweight summertime fabrics.
Over the years, American and Canadian army clothing has evolved a great deal, but one thing hasn’t changed: it has always been a source of pride among soldiers. During the Revolutionary War (1775-1783), American soldiers took great pride in their hats, which were decorated and worn cocked, sometimes even when they were off duty! When it was discovered that earlier styles of uniforms became easily wrinkled and made soldiers look unkempt at functions or during travel, the military came up with a more durable yet lightweight fabric. It didn’t matter what rank a soldier was; his uniform was to always look clean and pressed.
By the time of the Korean War (1950-1953), modern technology had made military gear much more protective. American gear included lightweight body armour, and the news was filled with amazing stories of men who had survived direct gunshots to the chest with only a few bruises, thanks to these nearly-indestructible vests. A nonmetallic type of body armour, made of glass fabric and plastic, later replaced this earlier style, and was much more comfortable during combat. Also, these nonmetallic vests were credited with saving the lives of many soldiers, who otherwise would have been listed as “lost in combat.”
Today, soldiers do not just have one uniform for all occasions. Many soldiers now have American or Canadian military clothing for a variety of occasions, including combat, working, and even attending functions. The military in both Canada and the US now produces uniforms that are as economical as possible, yet still high quality. The fabrics are now much more modern and lightweight, with decorations depending on the soldier’s rank and country of origin. However, while the design of uniforms may have changed over the years, the similarity of uniforms among soldiers and the sense of pride they feel has remained the same.