While camo print clothing may be readily (and somewhat rightly) associated with trendy Y2K-era fashion, that’s only half the story. Yes, camo is having a moment. But unlike micro miniskirts and tinted sunglasses, camo has longevity much the same way a pair of classic denim jeans does.
A brief history of camo
Of course, camo print clothing’s origins are practical, not trendy. Adopted by U.S. army units during World War II., camo became the de facto uniform of the military, appearing in multiple iterations over the following decades across all branches.
Adopted ironically by counterculture protesters in the late 1960s and later by musicians and celebrities, camo ultimately gained currency with civilians, who associated the pattern with toughness, cool, and freedom.
By the ‘80s and ‘90s, musicians and entertainers adopted camo, donning it onstage and touring. Around this time, camo became a thrift store staple, appearing in second-hand shops and army surplus stores. This onset dovetailed with a new-gen interest in thrifting, effectively going directly to the source for “authentic” garments.
Once the early 2000s rolled around, camo solidified its place in the pop culture firmament, becoming part of the go-to stage uniform for rappers and pop stars. As a result, this naturally filtered to fans and mainstream consumers, who gravitated toward camo in droves and officially made it trendy.
The camo trend in 2022
If camo’s been gaining serious traction lately—and it has—one particular item of clothing might be responsible. Yep, cargo pants. Arguably the hottest trend of 2022, cargos come in many materials, colors, and prints. One of the most popular, however, regardless of the year? Camo, of course.
Resurrected by celebrities and street style stars, with a healthy assist from “gorp core” chic, cargos have been a mainstay for the past couple of seasons. Both functional and fashionable, the pants are legitimately comfy and very much of the moment.
Granted, they aren’t the only clothing item camo covers. Jackets, shorts, tees, and sweats are popular too. Plus, according to Sanctuary camo print clothing can be worn no matter the season, unlike many other cyclical trends. Typically appearing on pieces crafted from cotton and twill of various hefts, camo is all-weather. That makes investing in something camo, or simply keeping it in wardrobe rotation year-round, a no-brainer.
Different Camo Prints & Colors
Traditionally, and particularly in military environments, camo has appeared in shades of green, brown, black, and tan. The most common camo pattern, the four-color “US Woodland,” is still used by an estimated 25% of militaries worldwide. Consequently, this is the pattern you’re most likely to see on army-surplus store pants or covering runway and High Street iterations. “Brushstroke,” Tigerstripe,” “ERDL,” and “Duck Hunter” round out additional styles.
In recent years, color-saturated camo has made a distinctly bold impression: think hot pink, bright blue, and ruby red. This summer, Kim Kardashian made headlines when she donned a neon yellow camo tee and matching leggings for a trip to Paris. (Expect the trend to spread and filter down.) As a result, Paris, and other high-fashion capitals, have become somewhat of a mecca for stylish colorful camo lovers.
While green and mainly olive remain the most popular camo colors, more subdued shades like gray have started trending. In addition, smaller camo prints with less contrast have also flourished, providing the wearer with more of a neutral base. Finally, runway designers have dreamed up their version of camo print, fashioning blurred, trompe l’oeil, and bespoke patterns.
Camo pants, shorts, and sweats
Camo print clothing occupies a unique niche in the fashion sphere. While initially meant to conceal the person wearing it, the effect today typically has the opposite outcome, drawing all eyes. The color of your camo and the size and contrast of the pattern will play an essential role in how others perceive it. For our purposes, we’ll discuss wearing camo daily and not on the street during fashion week.
We’ve discussed cargo pants at length, and this remains one of the most tried-and-true camo silhouettes. For 2022, baggy and low-slung are best, ideally paired with body-con tops in neutrals or bright hues. Want to dress up your camo? Materials like silk and satin are great options for nights out. For every day, nothing beats a pair of camo pants teamed with a white tank. Make it of the moment by ensuring it’s fitted and slightly cropped.
For casual, off-duty looks, nothing beats camo x comfort. That’s where sweats and shorts come in. But, again, a roomier silhouette rules the day. While strictly matchy-matchy looks might prove too much with camo, you can always pair a neutral color with a bolder shade or break up the look with black, white, or navy layers. If you prefer a skinnier cut, camo joggers or leggings are a sure bet. Depending on the occasion, classic trainers, hiking boots, and low-heeled sandals pair best with these looks.
Camo tops & jackets
It’s true—camo tops don’t get as much love as camo bottoms. Still, for the camo-shy or camo-curious, they can be a great wardrobe entry point. If you fall into this camp, start simply with a classic camo tee paired with a trendy denim mini or, yes, cargo pants. (We recommend solid as opposed to print.) Then, team it up with sneakers and bold jewelry.
If you like the idea of a camo jacket, opt for a classic field jacket or bomber. Depending upon the contrast and coloring of the camo print, this piece could function as your outfit’s main focal point. Either way, we like the idea of pairing either jacket with khaki trousers or baggy denim and a fitted tee in a neutral hue. In addition, a brightly colored purse or sneakers would up your outfit’s visual appeal and nicely offset the shirt and bottoms.