“Khaki is a clear-cut, round-the-year, round-the-clock favourite,” Mary Quant said in 1984’s Colour by Quant book. How prescient. My Quant book is a charity shop find and though packed full of often dated tips, some of the advice is as valid now as it was back then – such as wearing military with “an army of colourful allies”. What Quant calls Larky Khaki aptly describes the kind of attention-grabbing colour combinations seen on the autumn 2015 catwalks.
At Gucci, creative director Alessandro Michele teams a layered khaki silk pussy-bow blouse (£1,220) with a burnt-orange double-breasted trouser suit for a striking take on Seventies glamour. More retro inspiration (as always) is at Prada, where olive-y military green looks brilliant combined with bright-turquoise and salmon-pink shirts (£480). Pared-down tailoring – reefer jackets(£1,355) with cropped kick-flare trousers(£515, both first picture) – prevents these psychedelic tones becoming too sickly sweet.
Illustrating how the many shades of military are a good way to manouevre into autumn, Japanese designer Chitose Abe at Sacai has chosen a navy and yellow chevron-striped chiffon blouse(£950) to rev up a simple khaki wool skirt(£470, both second picture). A selection of Sacai’s dresses and jackets were realised in patchwork khaki, fuchsia and black tweed, but particularly fabulous is an authentic wool military cape (£1,405 from Selfridges). Meanwhile, Tom Ford offers Roitfeld-ready military-inspired pencil skirts with fine-knit silk leopard-print turtleneck sweaters (£890, third picture), and mohair and silk shaggy jackets (£2,790, both from My Theresa).
But my favourite khaki collaboration of all comes courtesy of Hillier Bartley, the recently launched collection from Katie Hillier and Luella Bartley. Having worked together for a couple of seasons at Marc by Marc Jacobs, the designers’ own line has garnered much fashion-industry acclaim. The sumptuous and slouchy velvet military jacket (£1,395 from Matchesfashion.com) has an English-aristo-goes-Withnail and I feel (the Hillier Bartley collection is made in England, apart from the jeans and shirts) and would look fabulous over slim tailored trousers or faded jeans. Military green and navy make a ultra-chic pairing: I’m thinking Hillier Bartley’s ribbed sweater (£995, fourth picture) with contrasting ribbed shoulders with the duo’s Northern Soul cropped navy velvet trousers (£595, both from Matchesfashion.com) – and a pair of Gucci loafers to enhance that effortless swagger.