Camo, short for “camouflage”, is a clothing pattern that is made up of several random splotches of color (typically greens and browns) mixed together.
The design has its origins in the animal kingdom. At the turn of the 20th century, zoologists realized that animals were able to blend into their surroundings through a technique called camouflage, whereby they had patterns and colors similar to their environment, and they blended into their surroundings, making them less visible.
Military leaders realized that this idea had combat applications, and camouflage made its first appearance during World War I (during which the splotches were hand painted) and were mass produced during World War II.
Today, camo (and its close cousin, digicam) are in wide use by militaries all over the world, and the distinctive pattern has made its way into the fashion world, as well as several outdoor sports such as hunting and paintball. Because of its military origins, camo is seen as a very strong and masculine pattern. It can also be somewhat controversial, for the same reasons.
There are few other clothing items that are as distinctively military as camo, so if you’ve served in the military or want to project a military vibe, adding some camo to your wardrobe might be something to consider.