By J.G. Noll
Oh, Forever 21. What were you thinking? Their reveal of a PT-inspired line of clothing has got the military community laughing and also face-palming over the ridiculousness of charging $40 for a ripped up, oversized PT shirt.
The truth is, military-inspired fashion can be chic when done right. And the military community knows how to do it right. These items are all made–or produced by businesses owned by–military spouses and veterans. And they’re way, way better than Forever 21’s military line.
1. Upcycled handbags
Forever 21 would probably just give you a seabag with a random word faux-stenciled on it. (So cool! Sooo fashionable! Eye. Roll.) But if you want an authentic military-inspired piece, look no further than Sword & Plough and R. Riveter! Both companies create and sell handmade bags made from surplus or recycled military materials.
Check out the Grey Wool Handbag from Sword & Plough:
And the Grant from R.Riveter:
And what’s even better? Not only are they made by artisans in the US, but the companies are both women-owned and military community-affiliated.
2. Brass jewelry
Meet Shanna Rodenberg, an Army veteran who served in Afghanistan. Returning home, she started creating jewelry made out bullet casings for her business, Bang Bang Ballistic Jewelry. And. . . it’s not what you think. These aren’t bullets hanging from your ears on a chain. These are sophisticated pieces of art that will make you double-take.
3. Shirts that mean something
Founded and run by two military spouses, The Rosie Project features shirts with uplifting messages that are uniquely suited for the military community–although many of them (like “Kind is the new cool”) are perfect for any kindred spirit. A portion of all their sales goes to the American Widow Project, too.
If you like to show your military pride a little more subtly, a wallet can be the perfect choice. Military Apparel Company, owned by a German-born-turned-American-citizen military spouse, provides hundreds of ways to customize your purchase, as every single one is handmade to your specifications. There are clutch versions, like this one:
And smaller versions:
5. Good, ol’ red, white, and blue
It doesn’t matter what decade we’re in– red, white, and blue never goes out of style. A subtle nod to America, the color combo is always a favorite on piers, runways, and parking lots for homecoming. Here’s a perfect dress that can be worn for Memorial Day, July Fourth, Labor Day. . . and any mandatory fun dates coming up. It’s from Lime Dot Shop, an online women’s fashion boutique owned and operated by a sister-in-law duo; one of the women is a military spouse.