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: