Buy Us Army Uniforms
The uniforms of the United States Army distinguish soldiers from other service members. U.S. Army uniform designs have historically been influenced by British and French military traditions, as well as contemporary U.S. civilian fashion trends. The two primary uniforms of the modern U.S. Army are the Army Combat Uniform, used in operational environments, and the Army Green Service Uniform worn during everyday professional wear and during formal and ceremonial occasions that do not warrant the wear of the more formal blue service uniform.
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The design of early army uniforms was influenced by both British and French traditions. One of the first Army-wide regulations, adopted in 1789, prescribed blue coats with colored facings to identify a unit's region of origin: New England units wore white facings, southern units wore blue facings, and units from Mid-Atlantic states wore red facings. Bandsmen wore red uniforms to make them more easily identifiable to commanders on the field of battle. Pantaloons were originally white, following British uniforms, but were changed to gray in 1821 and sky blue in 1832. Infantry wore tricorne hats, with different cover prescribed for cavalry and specialist troops depending on function.
Beginning in the 1850s, U.S. military leadership began to place an increased emphasis on French army tactics and styles, influenced, in part, by the rise of Napoleon III. The most extreme examples showing the adoption of French military fashion was in the use of zouave uniforms by some U.S. Army infantry regiments, and the purchase of 10,000 chasseurs à pied uniforms to outfit the Excelsior Brigade. However, more subtle styling - including frock coats, kepi hats, and collar ornaments - were more common during and after the American Civil War.
The U.S. Army uniforms used during World War II saw a divergence between field and garrison service elements, the latter necessitated by the suspension of the blue dress uniform again, leading to them becoming separate classes of uniforms by the end of the war. These uniforms continued in use into the Korean War.
Beginning in 2010, the blue Army Service Uniform (ASU), previously used as a formal dress uniform, displaced the green Class A uniform as the daily wear service uniform. This move proved unpopular, and in 2018 a new Army Green Service Uniform modeled after World War II-era officers garrison uniforms was announced. By 2028 all soldiers will be wearing the green ASU as office attire. The blue uniform will remain the ceremonial and formal dress uniform.
From 2010 to 2020, a blue uniform, known as the Army Blue Service Uniform, was used as the daily wear service uniform. The Army has a tradition of blue uniforms dating to the Revolutionary War, and the blue uniform returns to its previous position as a formal dress and ceremonial uniform. It had replaced in daily wear the previous green service uniform used by all officers and enlisted personnel introduced in 1956.
The U.S. Army Band "Pershing's Own", the U.S. Army Field Band, and the U.S. Army Herald Trumpets wear a parade uniform designed by the U.S. Army Institute of Heraldry and introduced in 1969 for the inauguration of Richard Nixon. The uniform blouse has a choker-style collar, instead of the open collar used on the Army Service Uniform, and eight buttons, representing the eight notes of the musical scale. Decorative gold braid adorns the cuffs and standard army cover is replaced by a crimson peaked hat, while drum majors wear a bearskin helmet. A summer white blouse is also available. In the 1950s "Pershing's Own" briefly wore a yellow and black uniform known as "the Lion Tamer" due to its resemblance to a circus costume. Before World War II, the band's uniform was a grey variation of the standard dress blue uniform.
Cadets enrolled at the United States Military Academy at West Point wear standard Army uniforms, including the Army Combat Uniform and the Army Physical Fitness Uniform, but also use several unique uniforms for drills and daily wear in lieu of the Army Service Uniform. Since 1816, West Point cadet uniforms have been styled in cadet grey which continues to be the primary color used in academy dress.
The U.S. Army tartan, designed by Strathmore Woollen Company, is black, khaki, blue, gold, and two shades of green. The United States Army Psychological Operations Regiment has a separate tartan of green, black, red, gray and white. However, there are currently no U.S. Army units that use Highland dress and the wearing of the kilt with U.S. Army uniforms is not permitted by Army regulations. Among armies in the five UKUSA Agreement nations, only the United States and New Zealand do not actively field Scottish units, though both nations have done so in the past.
Nonetheless, in keeping with U.S. Army uniform regulations that permit cadet commands at the U.S. Military Academy and the senior military colleges to introduce institution-specific uniforms, members of the bagpipe bands at the United States Military Academy, The Citadel, Norwich University, the Virginia Military Institute, and the Virginia Tech Corps of Cadets wear a Highland uniform while performing as part of their respective ensembles. These uniforms are patterned on collegiate tartans instead of the U.S. Army tartan. The Oregon Civil Defense Force (OSDF) also fields a pipe band that wears a modified Highland uniform, including kilt and sporran, authorized by the Oregon Military Department.
Starting May 1, 2021, DOD and Coast Guard appropriated fund and nonappropriated fund civilian employees are authorized to shop at military exchange stores in the United States and the U.S. territories and possessions. Online exchange access will also be available for active and retired DOD and Coast Guard appropriated fund and nonappropriated fund civilian employees by mid-October. This shopping access does not include the purchase of military uniforms, tobacco products or alcohol.
Extra Clothing Allowance are additional to the other two and do not affect them. These allowances are for situations in which a member may need additional uniforms or is required to have civilian clothing to perform his/her duties.
The military services made numerous uniform changes over the past 10 years and the changed uniform items were generally more expensive. GAO found that Navy and Marine Corps female enlisted service members and officers were most affected by uniform changes. In addition, GAO found that uniform changes could result in higher costs for officers who generally pay out-of-pocket for uniform costs. While the services have the authority to determine what uniforms are required for enlisted service members and officers, uniform changes have the potential to drive out-of-pocket costs for both. With equity as an underlying principle for compensation, a review of the services' uniform changes and resulting costs could help minimize out-of-pocket cost differences across the department and between genders.
The total value of military uniform items for a newly enlisted service member ranges from about $1,600 to $2,400, depending on the military service. Over the course of their careers, service members must replace and maintain their uniforms.
The conference report accompanying the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2020 included a provision for GAO to study service members' out-of-pocket costs for uniforms. Among other objectives, this report 1) assesses the extent to which differences exist in out-of-pocket costs for enlisted service member uniforms, by military service and by gender; and 2) examines the extent to which the military services have changed uniforms over the past 10 years, and how the costs of these changes have varied by service, enlisted or officer status, and gender. GAO reviewed DOD policies and service data on uniform allowances, enlisted and officer required uniform items and their costs, and changes made to uniforms since 2010. GAO also interviewed relevant DOD officials and service organization representatives.
Initial Clothing Allowances are provided to enlisted members upon initial enlistment or upon other special qualification for entitlement to a prescribed outfitting of uniforms. The initial issue may be an in-kind issue or a combination of in kind issue and cash payment.
Loretta Walsh was 20 years old when she joined the Navy, put on a modified men\u2019s uniform and became the first woman to officially enlist in the United States Armed Forces. It was early 1917, and by the time the United States entered World War I that April, there would be 200 women in the military. \n\n\n\nWalsh and the thousands of women who followed often served in uniforms designed for men or for body types not their own. At the time, women were only allowed to serve in noncombat roles, typically as clerical workers, telephone and radio operators, and translators. More than a century has passed, and with that has come change: Women were granted the right to serve as full members of the military with the 1948 passage of the Women\u2019s Armed Services Integration Act. And nearly 70 years after that, in 2015, the military opened all combat roles to women. Women now account for the military\u2019s largest-growing demographic, and military uniforms are slowly changing to meet the needs of the modern-day Armed Forces. \n\n\n\nIn the last decade, there has been a wave of changes to women service members\u2019 uniforms \u2014 which many experts and historians agree reflects broader efforts to improve gender equity in the military. The Air Force launched a project to develop maternity flight suits after a study found nearly 400 pregnant airmen had to wear larger flight suits during pregnancy, a situation that creates safety issues. The Navy measured hundreds of sailors this year as part of an ongoing effort to create better uniforms tailored to women. Most recently, the DEVCOM Soldier Center \u2014 the Army\u2019s research center \u2014 announced on Monday its first-ever designs for a tactical bra. \n\n\n\n\u201cThe goal is not only accommodate soldiers that are doing field training exercises, but also those operating in combat environments where there could be potential exposure to different threats,\u201d Ashley Cushon, a clothing designer and leader of design development at DEVCOM, said in a statement. \n\n\n\nService members can currently buy sports bras at commissaries and exchanges \u2014 stores on military bases. These items are not standard issue and must be paid for out-of-pocket, though service members are typically provided an allowance to buy non-standard-issue clothing that meet their personal preferences. \n\n\n\nDEVCOM revealed four concept designs \u2014 the first bras optimized for women to use in combat. Soldiers will be able to customize the bras\u2019 compression and support levels and, for those that prefer simplicity, there is an option with less fasteners and hardware. According to Cushon, the new designs include flame-resistant protection \u2014 from the thread, to the closure, to the seam. \n\n\n\n\n\n\u201cFemales in general have become all too familiar with experiencing adverse effects related to the continued wear of an ill-fitting bra,\u201d Cushon said. \u201cSkin damage related to abrasion or pain in the breast, shoulders and back. \u2026 We are utilizing a combination of size, style and military-appropriate design elements for the individual soldier\u2019s body type and activity level that can help to mitigate distractions related to ill-fit or discomfort that could compromise their focus \u2014 ultimately enhancing their readiness level while active.\u201d \n\n\n\nThe Army Uniform Board \u2014 which addresses requirement changes and meets twice each year \u2014 is expected to review the concepts for approval sometime in the fall. If approved, they will be the first official uniform bras offered from the Army to soldiers. \n\n\n\nAnnette LaFleur, the team leader for the Design, Pattern and Prototype Team at DEVCOM, said that the designers listened to feedback from service member surveys and focus groups. The team collected information from more than 200 women soldiers stationed in Kansas, Georgia and Washington between December 2021 and March 2022. The researchers and designers also kept in mind that women soldiers are \u201cultimate athletes\u201d who sometimes have to endure days on end in the cold, jungle or desert, LaFleur added. \n\n\n\n\u201cAs with all uniform and individual protection items we develop and evaluate, our goal is for the soldier to not think about what they are wearing and be focused on their job,\u201d LaFleur said in a statement. \n\n\n\nTanya Roth, a history teacher who wrote a book about the history of women in the military, said for so long military uniforms for women were about feminine fashion and the ideal American brand. It\u2019s only been in the last decade that there\u2019s been a significant shift towards function, Roth told The 19th. \n\n\n\n\u201cThis marks a major change for the military,\u201d Roth wrote last month in The Washington Post about the historical context behind women service members\u2019 government-issued clothing. \u201cUntil now, female service members have purchased bras for themselves. Crucially, it also reflects a change in how military leaders perceive female soldiers.\u201d \n\n\n\nAfter repurposing men\u2019s uniforms for women during the Great War, the U.S. military shifted to a more feminine uniform design as women continued to enter the military during World War II. Between 1943 and 1944, a slander campaign circulated that claimed these women were too manly or were attracted to other women. In response, the government issued women\u2019s uniforms \u2014 that included a wool skirt, jacket, cap with a visor, russet oxfords with a one-and-a-half-inch heel and leather handbag with a shoulder strap \u2014 in an effort to send a message that America\u2019s service women are \u201cgood, wholesome girls, the epitome of American femininity,\u201d Roth said. Some service women were encouraged to go on diets or buy their own shapewear, including girdles, shoulder pads and push-up bras. \n\n\n\n\u201cThe emphasis was always on: How did women look?\u201d Roth said, noting they even had famous fashion designers, like Hattie Carnegie, designing the uniforms. \u201cIt was really more about making them look good \u2014 it sometimes feels to me like it was more like dressing a Barbie doll. Let\u2019s make sure our women look good: They have the hat; they have the hair; they look like what we want a White American woman, particularly White middle class or upper class, to look like.\u201d \n\n\n\n(INP\/Bettmann Archive\/Getty Images\/Clarice Bajkowski for The 19th)\n\n\n\nAfter the war, uniform guidelines changed slightly. In 1946, women service members could buy and wear brown leather pumps while on duty. That year, nylon pantyhose were also issued for the first time to women in the Army \u2014 though they had to be diligent about making sure the seam that ran down the back of the leg remained straight. \n\n\n\nAt the onset of the Vietnam War in the 1950s, a group of women in the Women\u2019s Army Corps stationed in Vietnam \u2014 many of them nurses \u2014 wrote to Washington, D.C., asking why they were required to wear uniforms that were for show but not functional in practice. \n\n\n\n\u201cIn a tropical environment, their uniforms were getting sweat stains and showing dirt,\u201d Roth said. \u201cSo they start raising that question: \u2018Do you want us to look good or do you want us to do our work?\u2019 What does it mean to have a practical, functional uniform? It\u2019s still something that has taken the military another 50-plus years to address.\u201d \n\n\n\nRoth said she sees the beginning of a serious shift when it comes to military uniforms and gender equity. There seems to be more intentional inquiry being done into women\u2019s physical needs, she said. \n\n\n\n\u201cWhen I look back at the \u201970s, \u201980s and \u201990s, it sort of feels like we were just using stuff we already had,\u201d Roth said. \u201cBut in the last decade we\u2019ve seen more and more women move into different roles. Women who are mothers stepping up and talking about the physical changes their bodies go through and how that affects physical training after pregnancy or breastfeeding. \u2026 Now, I think important conversations are starting to happen.\u201d\n\n\n\nThere are also efforts from Congress to push the military towards gender equity, particularly when it comes to requirements and costs. Last year, Congress voted to eliminate a \u201cpink tax\u201d on military uniforms after a government report found that women were disproportionately required to pay more out-of-pocket costs. \n\n\n\nDemocratic Sen. Maggie Hassan of New Hampshire, who co-sponsored the legislation, told The 19th that the military will be stronger if women service members are treated fairly. \n\n\n\n\u201cI am encouraged to see the Defense Department build on these efforts, and I will continue to work on bipartisan efforts to address gender disparities in the military and support all of our men and women in uniform.\u201d \n\n\n\nSuzanne Chod, a professor of political science at North Central College, said: \u201cI think the first thing to note is that these initiatives were proposed by female legislators. This is one more example of why representation matters. Women\u2019s perspectives, especially across different social identities, are critical to create more equitable policies.\u201d\n\n\n\nIn 2018, the Army for the first time assembled an all-women board to provide feedback on the Army\u2019s uniform design. The board unanimously voted to make pants, tailored to a woman\u2019s body, the default standard issue. Skirts are still available for purchase, but they are no longer the default option. \n\n\n\nChod noted that measures related to women soldiers\u2019 uniforms often enjoyed bipartisan support in both chambers of Congress, and that each seemingly incremental change would have a wider effect. \u201cWhile these amendments may seem small in comparison to the systemic and institutional inequities in the military that need to be addressed, they make a real difference in female service members\u2019 day-to-day lives. From hair, to better fitting uniforms, to making uniforms and other necessary apparel more affordable, these changes in policy allow female service members to feel more like themselves, to be themselves, and to do their jobs better.\u201d\n\n\n\nKara Dixon Vuic, who studies gender and the U.S. military at Texas Christian University, said the changes are long overdue. \n\n\n\n\u201cBroadly, all of this is indicative of the military\u2019s paying attention to gender-specific needs in an overall effort to more fully integrate women,\u201d Vuic said. \u201cIt\u2019s almost like death by 1,000 paper cuts for women in the military: You\u2019re paying more for your uniform, you have to go buy the things you need off-post, you can\u2019t wear your hair the way you need.\u201d\n\n\n\nFor so many years, some uniform requirements and guidelines were perpetuated because \u201cthat\u2019s just the way it is,\u201d but Vuic said she hopes leadership continues to further change by considering the growing number of women\u2019s perspectives \u2014 for the benefit of the entire Armed Forces. \n\n\n\n\u201cAll of these things have a psychological impact and are just subtle ways of saying you don\u2019t belong or that you\u2019re an addition to this established routine \u2014 which suggests that you\u2019re not fully part of it,\u201d Vuic said. \u201cWhen I first saw the news about the tactical bra, my first response was: They don\u2019t issue bra