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A Short History of Military Shirts

A Short History of Military Shirts

Posted by HH on 7th May 2024

In our latest blog post, let’s look at how military shirts (also known as tactical shirts or combat shirts) have evolved, from their humble origins to becoming modern fashion statements today.

Like all of the tactical clothing from the tried-and-trusted big name brands at Heinnie Haynes, military shirts are hard wearing, usable and high-quality. A functional, durable and comfortable piece of kit, military shirts are worn by tactical professionals and bushcraft or survival enthusiasts in the field. They’re even a great item to style with jeans for a trip to the pub or a weekend in the countryside, or for those days off. At Heinnie Haynes, we stock a great selection of military shirts to suit your needs, from top brands including 5.11 Tactical, Helikon-Tex, Kitanica, Kuhl, Pentagon, and Triple Aught Design (TAD).

A short history of military shirts - their origins, transformations and enduring significance


Military shirts can be traced back to ancient civilisations when soldiers wore tunics or robes for protection and identification. The idea of specialised tactical shirts as we know them today emerged much later.

Early developments:

It wasn’t until the late 19th and early 20th centuries that the modern military shirt began to take shape, coinciding with advancements in military tactics and technologies. Across the globe, different countries experimented with different designs and materials to create functional and comfortable military uniforms.

World War era:

During these conflicts, nations introduced uniforms tailored to certain environments. These military shirts featured pockets, epaulettes and adjustable cuffs to meet the soldier’s needs.

Post-War innovation:

After the Second World War, technological advancements and changing warfare tactics influenced military shirts. For example, synthetic fabrics like nylon and polyester became widespread, providing robustness and moisture-wicking properties.

Specialist designs:

Special forces units developed their own unique military shirts that would meet their operational needs in certain physical environments. These featured camouflage patterns, reinforced stitching and modular attachment points for gear.

Into the world of fashion:

In the late 20th century, military shirts began to go beyond their military use as civilian versions of military shirts entered the fashion world, becoming increasingly popular for their rugged look (as well as their practical features).

The best military shirts today:

The demand for resilient, functional and stylish apparel has led to a proliferation of tactical clothing brands and military shirts continue to be a staple in both military and civilian wardrobes.

The history of military shirts is rooted in military tradition and practicality. From their humble origins to their fashion item status, military shirts have come a long way.

Top military shirts at Heinnie Haynes

At Heinnie Haynes, we're dedicated to providing you with the very best tactical shirts.

  • 5.11 Tactical - the world’s foremost manufacturers of ‘Always Be Ready Gear’, 5.11 Tactical push the boundaries of superior gear in terms of functionality and quality.
  • Helikon-Tex - we’re also a leading UK supplier of Helikon-Tex tactical clothing. Excellent quality.
  • Kitanica - highly versatile USA-made tactical clothing.
  • Kuhl - Kuhl shirts deliver superior toughness with casual style.
  • Pentagon - we’re a leading UK supplier of Pentagon clothing and tactical kit.
  • Triple Aught Design (TAD) - the go-to brand for adventurous individuals, exceptional performance and durability.

See the full range of military shirts at Heinnie Haynes

Why not check out our other great blogs For Gear Recommendations And Outdoor Survival Tips