US Military Uniforms and Dressing the Part
Since the revolutionary war, US military uniforms have been turning heads. There is just something special about a soldier in a uniform. Just wearing the uniform demands a certain respect. The uniform portrays confidence, power, and the brother and sisterhood of a select few. US military uniforms have a long history and a wide variety of differentiating the men and women that wear them.
Types of Military Uniforms
Just as every branch of the military is different and constantly evolving, so is the attire. Most US military uniforms in use have been adapted and altered within the last ten years. and even more frequently before that, making it difficult to include a full, or even overarching, history of the uniforms worn by members of the military. Every branch of the military has three different attires: utility, service dress, and mess dress.
The first is the utility uniform that features the classic camo pattern we associate with the US military. However, the camo wasn’t always classic. The first utility uniform was introduced in 1899 and became widely used in 1902. It consisted of khaki and olive-green loose-fitting clothes. Since its beginning, the utility attire has been the day-to-day dress for members of the military, and it’s worn by military men and women while doing all sorts of work: combat, repairs, office jobs, hospital work, food preparation, you name it. Each branch has its own camo design and colors. The camo for every branch except for the Coast Guard is digitized. Digitized camo was first introduced by the Marine Corps in 2001 and was then adopted by more branches of the US military. In addition to their respective camo, each branch of the military wears different colored combat boots, hats, and patches with flags and insignias.
Service Dress Uniforms
When the armed forces were first being formed back in 1774, there was no distinction between the service dress and the utility. The first dress uniform was commissioned by George Washington and consisted of a blue continental Army coat, a white waistcoat, and pants or overalls. It wasn’t until 1902 that a utility uniform was introduced and used for active duty work while the service dress was used during noncombat responsibilities. In 1917, service dress was suspended because the tight-fitting uniform was inhibiting work during World War I. Service dress was reinstated for active duty, noncombat use in 1928. During the 1940s, the military began sole use of utility uniforms for active duty responsibilities and reserved the US service dress for occasions like weddings and funerals. It was during this time that service dress uniforms began to get more elaborate, with ribbons, medals, and patches specific to rank and branch of military. The US service dress has seen countless changes and modifications since its beginning, and soldiers weren’t required to own both a utility and a service dress uniform until 1963.
Mess Dress Uniforms
Reserved for special occasions, the third type of military uniform is called mess dress. These are so called because they are worn in the Mess, a place where military men and women socialize and hold formal dinners, parties, and ceremonies. This uniform is the most formal attire and is typically worn to black-tie events like the Military Ball, presidential inaugurations, and other formal ceremonies. The mess dress attire is a fancier version of the service dress uniform. For all branches of the military, the mess dress uniform sticks to the same color scheme, but generally includes longer skirts, cummerbunds, and gloves for women, and cummerbunds, vests, gloves, and capes for men. Mess dress for both men and women has even more embellishments than typical service uniforms. This apparel is only required and authorized for wear by senior officers. The mess dress was instituted for the first time in 1829 and was suspended with the service dress uniform in World War I.