Tutorial: Military Jacket Makeover

Military Jacket Makeover

Back in the 90’s, I was a teenager in Seattle. There’s no way I could have escaped the grunge influence. Once I moved to Provo, Utah I amped that influence up even more to make myself feel brooding and unique. I wore big black boots everywhere I went, I wore men’s pants from the thrift store, a garage mechanic’s old shirt, and this olive drab jacket from the military surplus store.

But then I grew up and discovered that a men’s military jacket was really not flattering, so I stuck it in the back of my closet where it stayed for about ten years. I kept thinking I would refashion it some how, and every once in a while I would try. I took in the sides to give it a little shape, I thought about bleach or dye, but it still just looked like a military jacket. Just not fancy enough to look cool. That’s when I figured out what to do. I had to lean in to the military look.

Of course, I would never dream of using real military insignia. I come from a military family and I would rather chuck out all my clothes than flaunt badges or medals I hadn’t earned. So I had to turn to the only branch of the military I felt I could belong to. The girls scouts.

Military Jacket Makeover Step 1

For starters, I had to give this jacket some distressing. Part of what made it look so square was how neat it was. If I wanted to look tough, it needed to look like it had been around the block a couple of times. I used sandpaper over the majority of the jacket, rubbing in both horizontal as well as vertical directions to make rough patches. The exacto knife was perfect on the pocket flap and the color to give some extra attention to the places that would show the most wear.

Military Jacket Makeover Step 2

Then I sewed on my girl scout badges. I did this by hand over the course of a couple of nights of television. I don’t remember how I discovered this, but anybody can order girl scout badges. You don’t need to be affiliated, you just go to the shop and pick out whatever ones you like. They’ve changed all their badges since I ordered mine, so I don’t know exactly what these are for anymore. Cooking, Jewelry Making, and … Sleuthing?

Military Jacket Makeover Step 3

To add a little flair to the pockets I broke out the studs. I’m sure if I had a Bedazzler this would have been easier. It sounds hilarious until you could actually use one.

Military Jacket Makeover Step 4

Without one I just poked the studs through by hand and used a popsicle stick to bend the prongs toward the center.


Real talk: I actually never got passed the Daisy part of Girls Scouts, but they’ll actually sell these badges to anyone. I just went on the site and picked out badges that I knew I could qualify for. Girl Scout badges are hardly military insignia, but they still represent an amount of work that is to be respected, so I stuck with the ones I felt I could pass a test on, should my neighborhood Girl Scouts get offended by my fashion choices and threaten to cut off my Thin Mint Supply.