The Evolution of Military Uniforms

Historyplex Staff Sep 29, 2018
Military clothing has evolved over a long period of time. Earlier, the uniforms were bright in color, often red and white. Nowadays, we find khaki, bottle green, and their variants being used extensively by most of the military forces.
Military uniforms are designed with all the minute details in mind like the place, or rather the soil on which the soldier has to fight, the climate, and the vegetation of that place.
It is so because, soldiers cannot afford to be seen by the enemy, even when inside the enemy territory, and therefore they need to camouflage themselves in the colors of nature, i.e., green, brown, khaki, etc.
When designing such clothing, one has to keep in mind the extreme conditions these personnel encounter at times. The most important thing is that they have to carry quite a few things, and they cannot afford to have extra baggage, since they already carry weapons which are heavy enough.
A uniform differentiates soldiers from civilians and instills a degree of discipline in them. Its design depends on the native style of dressing and various other conditions, e.g., the British uniform was red probably because red dye was cheaper at that time.
In the past, soldiers wore a lot of 'red', which was the royal color and it also marked them out of the masses. Also, it was believed that the bloodstains would not show on a red-colored fabric. The Roman, Ottoman, as well as the British Empire issued uniforms that were red in color.

The Evolution

Throughout the ages it has changed the form, color, and fabric in accordance with the resources of the authority. The French Army initially took it up in the seventeenth century.
Until nineteenth century, they were quite ornate with embellishments but gradually it was discovered that, colors like red and white were actually getting soiled very fast, since the soldiers, at times, had to even sleep in their uniforms.
Until 1914, most of the armies retained the bright colors only as a parade and off-duty wear like the Russian troops retained the dark green uniform introduced by Peter The Great in 1700. British Army also retained their scarlet uniform for parade.
Khaki started taking over the men in action as and when wars started taking different dimensions, other than just serving the purpose of glorifying the triumphant king.
The British Army adopted the khaki after India's First war of Independence in 1857, it was followed with the Russo-Japanese War in 1905, that led to the Russians changing themselves into grayish khaki. Likewise, most of the armies took up the khaki, that would help them in camouflage and suit the work profile, which involved extensive physical exercise.
With the First World War, there was an end to all the colorful and embellished uniforms, and this was the commencement of khakis, grays, and bottle greens to match with the demands of the modern military operation. Not only the uniforms but also the whole gear underwent a sea change.
The helmet, the shoes, and all the accessories accepted the change that was approaching. The helmet was made of steel and now, it is made in such a way, so as to face the actual combat situations in modern times, where the war is more psychological and technological. The whole idea is to make the soldiers look intimidating to the enemy troops.

Camouflage Clothing

Camouflage is a way of protective coloring, that conceals the organism from being differentiated from the surroundings. In military lingo, it is the uniform of the soldier, which makes him indiscernible from his surroundings. It has various patterns like:
  • Desert Brush
  • Woodland Track Mod
  • Urban Track
Noticeably, the color black was discarded from the whole scheme because, black is not found in nature frequently. Moreover, it could be differentiated from the black fabric and could make the soldiers an easy target.
The Desert Brush is one pattern, which is appropriate in all the surroundings like deserts, rocky plateaus, and woodlands. It also camouflages soldiers in the urban surroundings.