From home-sewn rags to spit-and-polish boots, woolen overcoats and camo fatigues, U.S. military uniforms have changed a lot throughout the years. In over 240 years of military history, uniform choices for U.S. soldiers have changed dramatically, evolving in tandem with new fashion and technology.

Our Armed Forces continue to tweak and make improvements to uniforms, experimenting with different colors, materials and designs in order to best serve those who serve. The most recent change, which took effect in January 2017 before President Obama left office, allows commanders to grant accommodations to service men and women who wear beards, headscarves, turbans and hijabs for religious reasons. The new change also permits female marines in uniform to wear their hair in dreadlocks.

The new guidelines were announced in the wake of other recent updates that were recently authorized, including the Navy’s decision to nix their unpopular (and flammable, apparently) blue-and-gray working uniform. Navy officials also stated that additional uniform updates are on track to be released this coming fall. According to The Navy Times, “the digital woodland pattern cammies, or NWU Type III, will become the standard shore duty uniform across the service.” Sailors have the option of wearing either the blue- or green-camouflage uniforms, but will be required to own the new clothing by Oct. 1, 2019, when the blue uniform will no longer be authorized.

The Air Force has also introduced a new uniform policy, which deals with how service men and women wear their uniforms. The new guidelines specify when “pilots, navigators and airmen” are permitted to roll up the sleeves of their uniforms and took effect on January 23rd. In addition to the sleeves and tattoo policies being updated, the Air Force has been testing its maternity uniforms for service members who are pregnant. It has also introduced a new blue service dress shirt made from a material that stretches more.

Our country’s military uniforms have undergone a number of permutations over the years. Here’s a glimpse of how U.S. military uniforms have evolved:

Dave-Rocker

Dave Rocker

Soldiers who fought in the Spanish-American war dressed in khaki uniforms based on those worn by the British.

dave rocker

During World War I, American soldiers wore olive wool coats and high boots–gear which proved to be helpful during the muddy trench warfare.

World War II field combat uniforms c. 1941.

World War II field combat uniforms c. 1941.

American uniforms worn in the Korean War were those of an Army in transition and reflected innovations from the closing days of World War II. (Photo courtesy of the U.S. Army Heritage and Education Center)

American uniforms worn in the Korean War were those of an Army in transition and reflected innovations from the closing days of World War II. (Photo courtesy of the U.S. Army Heritage and Education Center)

Vietnam War / USMC Body Armor, M-1955

Vietnam War / USMC Body Armor, M-1955

At first glance, uniforms worn during Vietnam are remarkably similar to those worn during the Korean War, but as the war wore on, modifications in basic weapons, clothing and equipment came rapidly as the Army tried to solve the special problems encountered in hot and humid Vietnam. The updated, wind-resistant fatigue jackets and pants brought back the use of cargo pockets and other utilitarian features. Fast-drying boots with nylon uppers accompanied the uniform. Olive green underclothing and subdued ranks and nametapes, which became a requirement in 1968, reduced the chances of giving away one’s position to the enemy.

At first glance, uniforms worn during Vietnam are remarkably similar to those worn during the Korean War, but as the war wore on, modifications in basic weapons, clothing and equipment came rapidly as the Army tried to solve the special problems encountered in hot and humid Vietnam. The updated, wind-resistant fatigue jackets and pants brought back the use of cargo pockets and other utilitarian features. Fast-drying boots with nylon uppers accompanied the uniform. Olive green underclothing, which became a requirement in 1968, reduced the chances of giving away one’s position to the enemy. (Photo courtesy of DoD.live)

The Army introduced the now-iconic battle dress uniform in 1981. Its woodland pattern meant that for the first time, all Soldiers wore camouflage. (Photo courtesy of the Military History Institute, U.S. Army History and Heritage Command)

The Army introduced the now-iconic battle dress uniform in 1981. Its woodland pattern meant that for the first time, all Soldiers wore camouflage. (Photo courtesy of the Military History Institute, U.S. Army History and Heritage Command)

In the late 1980s, the Army introduced the six-color desert battle dress uniform, often called chocolate chip camouflage. It was intended for limited use by Special Operations troops, and in military exercises in the Middle East.

In the late 1980s, the Army introduced the six-color desert battle dress uniform, often called chocolate chip camouflage. It was intended for limited use by Special Operations troops, and in military exercises in the Middle East.