Operation Desert Porn: J.Crew's Wartime GlamourS

Military chic goes in and out of style from year to year, but the August J.Crew catalog makes being stationed in Iraq or Afghanistan look fabulous. War, what is it good for? Inspiring fall collections!

Operation Desert Porn: J.Crew's Wartime GlamourS

Okay, so this model is not in Iraq or Afghanistan. She's in Lake Powell, Arizona. She's still carrying a NATO-style ruck sack and keeping an eye on the sky. Her work shirt is $88, but you could get a similar style for about $13. Or less!

Operation Desert Porn: J.Crew's Wartime GlamourS

Yes, this edition of the catalog is all about olive drab, the color used by militaries around the world. The Iraq war has been going on for seven years and 143 days. According to CNN, in June 2010, 32 Army soldiers killed themselves — the highest number in a single month since the Vietnam era. What's so chic about that?

Operation Desert Porn: J.Crew's Wartime GlamourS

The catalog pairs "utilitarian" items — like this $65 hoodie — with more luxe articles, like this hammered silk charmeuse skirt in "bronzed twig," which rings up at $278. Of course, if you were really trying to cover up in the desert, you could do it for $13.95.

Operation Desert Porn: J.Crew's Wartime GlamourS

J. Crew president and executive creative director Jenna Lyons claims she's inspired by "pieces that have a utilitarian feel." (Are they actually functional, or do they just feel that way?) She also writes that "uniform" items, dressed up with "sky-high platforms or a smattering of sequins" are clothes that "quietly command attention." Of course, you'd better be pulling in the salary of a colonel or general, and not a private — the least inexpensive item on this page is a $58 belt.

Operation Desert Porn: J.Crew's Wartime GlamourS

It's not that pairing a military-inspired shirt with a sequined skirt isn't cute. It is! But why military? Why now? About 31,882 American soldiers have been wounded in Iraq alone. When civilians appropriate military gear, are we supporting our troops, sending a message that we're all in this together? Maybe… But this model looks like the only thing she's interested in invading is a cocktail party.

Operation Desert Porn: J.Crew's Wartime GlamourS

Certainly, paying $215 for pre-scuffed cracked leather boots isn't something an American soldier would do.

Operation Desert Porn: J.Crew's Wartime GlamourS

Cardigan: $89.50
Sosie sequin tank: $495
Ultra-knit Devin pant: $69.50
Silk-ribboned multichain necklace: $98
Total: $752

"Major Diva" costume from ArmySurplusWorld.com: $44.50

(The copy here reads, in part, "top off your outfit with an AUTHENTIC ARMY CAP… this one is called a Garrison cap and was first issued to U.S. soldiers during World War 1)."

Operation Desert Porn: J.Crew's Wartime GlamourS

A $275 tweed jacket for the ladies who lunch… in the demilitarized zone!

Operation Desert Porn: J.Crew's Wartime GlamourS

J. Crew and Timex joined forces to create a "vintage" field watch, which will cost you $150, but you can totally get a Timex field watch for less than fifty bucks, just FYI. Whether you wear it with sequins is up to you.

Operation Desert Porn: J.Crew's Wartime GlamourS

Boo! $275 high-heel oxfords don't fit this catalog's aesthetic! Try dress oxfords instead, a bargain at $12.99.

Operation Desert Porn: J.Crew's Wartime GlamourS

Some of the boots here are reminiscent of Harley-Davidson and Hunter, except waaaaay more expensive.

Operation Desert Porn: J.Crew's Wartime GlamourS

Grommet belt! J. Crew's version is $25; but you could pay as low as $4. Or as high as $4.89.

Operation Desert Porn: J.Crew's Wartime GlamourS

$2,600 buys his outfit (Duchess satin Margeaux gown, $1,800; Mongolian lamb vest, $800) or feeds 358 people with MREs.

J. Crew [Official Site]

Earlier: Anthropologie's Misty Water-Colored Memories
Who Needs Clothes When Crewcuts Kids Are So Freaking Cute?
Anthropologie, Translated As A Southern Gothic Novella
J.Crew's Summer Abroad: Sweet Swimsuits, Sharp Shorts & Dreadful Dresses

See also: All "Today In Catalogs" posts