In the 1950’s the U.S. Air Force took a massive step forward with the invention of jet fighter planes. These aircraft could reach higher altitudes than ever thought imaginable thus giving the military an obvious newfound edge. While jet planes were an advantageous invention for the U.S. they also posed a problem for the pilots themselves, as the upper atmospheres had significantly lower temperatures. Up until this period pilots wore fleece-lined leather jackets that functioned adequately during lower level flights, but with jet aircraft these jackets posed a potential hazard to the pilots. If the jackets got wet, wether from simple precipitation during flight or from rain as the pilot walked to the aircraft, this would cause the jacket to not only bulk up but also freeze at the lower temperatures, which could be deadly for the pilot. As a result the military had to design a more streamlined, lightweight jacket that would not only avoid freezing, but also not impede the pilot’s movement in the new more confined jet cockpit. In response to this demand the MA-1 bomber was developed, a polyester lined, dual pocket, nylon jacket with an elastic cinch bottom. This jacket solved all the existing problems as the polyester lining was able to brave the frigid temperatures, and the cinch bottom and nylon front kept out any precipitation. Nylon had not been previously utilized in manufacturing military clothing as it was mainly reserved for parachutes, but in this case the material was ideal because of it’s light weight and water repellency.
While the jacket was first and foremost a military garment, it was both practical and simple enough to effortlessly translate over into civilian life. MA-1’s became a staple within both the hardcore punk and hip hop communities throughout the latter twentieth century. As a primarily casual jacket, the MA-1 design took on a new more formal approach when it was combined with the Eisenhower Jacket, a timeless unlined wool officers jacket that resembled a sport coat. The MA-1’s dual pocket front, cinch waistband, and full closure, were combined with the Eisenhower Jacket’s thinner construction and more dignified look to create the modern blouson. Today blousons are made from any number of lighter-weight materials, primarily suede or cotton and are a comfortable medium between formal and casual.