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Mosby: Camo clothing a fairly recent development

Posted: August 8, 2014 - 5:33pm

The discussion of World War II legacies in our area led to some other related topics. One is camo clothing.

You see it everywhere, not just in hunting areas. Once we called it camouflage. Now “camo” is used and understood by everyone.

But when did it start?

The military, ours and others including opponents, used camouflage clothing to some extent in the war but not nearly as much as is the case today. Camouflage in World War II more often meant hiding something from aerial view. Netting was used over tanks and other vehicles. Some warplanes were painted in camouflage. So were some ships.

The people on the ground, soldiers, of the United States generally were clad in khaki and olive drab clothing. There were exceptions for specialized troops and in selected areas. This writer remembers watching with fascination a news reel segment showing Norwegian troops on skis wearing snow camouflage outfits.

Some American troops used netting over their helmets, “steel pots,” and stuck pieces of vegetation into the mesh.

After the war, it took a good many years for hunters to take up camouflage clothing. By the 1960s some camo clothing began showing up, and it came on strong in the 1970s. Duck hunters were into camo before deer hunters.

The woodland pattern of camouflage was common in those early times, and you still see it a good bit. In the 1970s, also, companies like Mossy Oak took camo clothing to new levels with extensive marketing. Then it became fashionable.

Camo clothing went from the woods and wetlands to social, school and everyday usage. In some locales, administrators actually banned kids from wearing camo at school. True. And it’s also hard to imagine that jeans were not allowed in some schools way back when.

Today, camo clothing is so prevalent that no one gives it a second glance. You see, occasionally, sport coats made in camo. Churchgoers may wear camo and not get more than a possible frown. Wear a camo shirt into a coffee shop or a café, and the waitress likely will not ask you, “Going hunting”?

In some Arkansas circles, it is somewhat traditional to mix several patterns of camo — shirt in Realtree Max-5, pants in Mossy Oak Breakup Infinity, cap in something else. Boots may be still another pattern.

Then we have the fashion camo, some aimed at women. Pink camo is an example. Water camo has blue tones. Urban camo is gray, black and white. From clothing, the fashion has spread to purses, eyeglasses and all sorts of other items.

Camo has become fun.

The military, ours and other nations, adapted camo clothing some years back. Today, all sorts of nations abroad have found a route to revenue by selling both new and used camo clothing to American entrepreneurs.

Some of these military clothing items are good buys, too. In most, not all, cases the military clothes are sturdy, made for rough use, and have plenty of pockets.

Not long ago on a cool evening, this writer wore a camo shirt over a regular sport shirt and khaki pants.

Waiting in a take-out food line, I was approached by an older fellow. He said, “Pardon me, but I’m a retired military man, and I have never seen that camouflage pattern you are wearing.”

I replied, “Sir, this is a Swiss army shirt.”

Then he asked where I got it, and I told him the mail order outfit it came from.

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