If you are looking for a casual, yet refined and simple jacket, the field jacket is one of the most common options. Most of times it is the M65 field jacket, but there are other options as well. One of them is the classic M-43 field jacket. A bit different but a versatile and great choice for layering especially during spring, summer and early fall season.
I was also looking for a new casual jacket for this summer. My options were basically some shirt jacket or a classic M-65 field jacket. But when I saw the Drake's D-43 field jacket at Sauma and tried it on, the search was done.
The M-43 field jacket - history in a nutshell
Originally the U.S. Army developed the M1943 uniform in 1942 to replace a variety of other army uniforms. And to replace some inadequate garments. The original M-43 jacket was made of windproof cotton sateen cloth and it is steeped in American military history. The M-43 field jacket was basically a response to the need for more functional uniforms to protect the US troops. The jacket was in the first place tested by troops in Sicily and Italy. A nice details for those who like Italian style and history. Finally it was issued to the troops in 1944. You can read more about the history from here.
The original M-43 field jacket consisted of an olive drab cotton outer shell with layers added inside. The layers were brought to add more warmth when needed. There was a pile jacket liner for extremely cold areas and a short wool jacket to wear in milder temperatures. As mentioned, the original M-43 jacket had a sateen outer shell with a cotton lining. The waist was adjustable with an internal drawstring. The wrists could be closed by buttons. The jacket could be closed with six hidden plastic buttons under a fly cover. This way it created a smooth front. Other important features of the original M-43 field jacket included:
- Four reinforced cargo pockets, two at chest level and two below the waist line of the jacket.
- A hood was available that could be buttoned on to the collar.
- A neck flap was attached to the left side and could be buttoned across the throat area for cold or windy conditions.
- As part of the layering principle, a liner was available for cold conditions.
The Drake's version - D43 field jacket
Nowadays many brands have their own versions of old military garments. The M-43 is not an exception. The British manufacturer Drake's London is one that has brought up their version of the jacket. It is a version that is pretty much loyal to the original. The jacket I picked for myself is handcrafted from hardy but breathable army green or khaki linen.
The D43 jacket features basically all the details that the original M-43 had. Four pockets, neck flap, draw string and hidden buttons. The only thing missing is the hood. And the linen version does not have a liner. The fit of the jacket is rather slim, although the sizing is a bit odd. I usually wear size 46 or 48. Or small (sometimes medium, depending on the sizing). However, I ended up choosing a size XXS of the D43 jacket. And it fits me pretty much perfectly, especially in terms of the length of the jacket and sleeves. As I have quite broad chest and shoulders in comparison to my other body, XS would have probably been another option. But then the sleeves for example would have been too long.
The linen cloth is as mentioned quite sturdy but still very breathable. It does not crease much but still the fabric has a casual feeling and look. But it is good to keep in mind that when the temperature falls, you will need something else than just a t-shirt under your jacket to keep you warm. To put it briefly, the D43 is a perfect top layer for in-between days during summer and early fall season.
How to wear the M-43 jacket
All field jackets are more or less casual jackets. They are at their best when you pair them with casual pieces such as denim, cotton slacks, t-shirt or other casual shirts and knitwear. For some field jacket inspiration, take a look at my older post about the M-65 jacket. One of my favorite combinations however is to wear the Drake's D43 jacket with the DLA white oxford shirt and dark blue cotton slacks as in the picture on the top. Or to pair the jacket with white linen slacks and the DLA denim shirt.
In general, I think the best color for a field jacket is the olive or military green. Drake's call the color of their D43 field jacket as khaki but I would still say it more olive. The green is easy to pair and combine. You can easily wear it with different shades of blue, although I almost always tend to go with dark or indigo shades of blue. The olive green jacket is also easy to pair for example with off-white or light brown trousers. It brings a little bit of contrast to the outfit but not too much. As usual, I would avoid pairing the jacket with bright colored garments. And also, as the fabric of the jacket is quite sturdy linen and the general look of the jacket is casual, I wouldn't pair with any formal pieces made of fine wool fabrics.
M43 field jacket with suit
As already said - as all field jackets - the M-43 type is also at its best when you wear it with casual pieces. However in my opinion you can also pair the jacket - especially versions like this Drake's one with suits or sport coats. But when you do, make sure the suit is still casual enough.
I have sometimes said that a cotton suit is one of the most versatile suits there is. And it is also one of the most casual expressions of a suit possible. Therefore it is a great match for the linen D43 field jacket.
In the pics here I have paired the jacket with the camel colored mtm-cotton suit from Sauma and the DLA white oxford shirt and DLA navy grenadine tie. Some could argue that grenadine is not the best choice here but as it is a perfect pair for the cotton suit, I personally like it. But for example a shantung silk or a linen tie would be definitely good choices. Or you can go totally without a tie. And that is in fact my choice in most cases.