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New Look for Navy?

The well-known look of bell-bottomed dungarees may soon be "out of style" for the Navy. The reason for the fashion fracas is a six-month "test" of two new types of dungaree uniforms worn by the Navy's junior enlisted Sailors aboard ships, including the aircraft carriers USS Nimitz (CVN-68) and USS John C. Stennis (CVN-74).

Master Chief Electrician's Mate (AW/SS) Steven R. Hillis, Nimitz's command master chief, said the ship was chosen because, "an aircraft carrier fits the bill, since it has such a wide variety of jobs with the aircraft, power plants and a huge amount of shipboard maintenance. Nimitz also has a fairly large percentage of women in its crew compared to most ships in the area, so the board can test the uniforms on both men and women in the same work situations."

The new apparel is being worn by 124 Sailors. One set is described as being similar to a set of Dickies-brand work pants and shirt, the shirt being of a lighter color blue like traditional dungarees. The other uniform features jean pants comparable to a pair of Levi-brand 501s.

Hull Technician 1st Class Shelly Rawson, of Nimitz's Engineering Department's Repair Division, said she gets bombarded with questions everywhere she goes on the ship. "They want to know how they fit, feel, how well they wash, everything! It's still a little too early to tell which of the two types of working uniforms I prefer; they are both so comfortable to work in," she said.

Rawson noticed some differences in the uniforms. "For example, the women's shirt has a snap at the top of the collar, where the men's still has a button," said Rawson. "And the gig lines don't match on the women's uniforms, but they do on the men's."

Aviation Boatswain's Mate 3rd Class Patrick Freitas, of the Air Department Fuels Division, is all for the new look, saying that a change for the Navy has been a long time coming.

"These new uniforms are great. They're easy to bend in, work in and they don't tear easily," he said. "If you get grease or something spilled on them it seems to wash out well without staining or fading the fabrics too much.

"Personally I hope they choose one of these two new uniforms for the fleet, and I'm especially glad they allowed us to help with the elimination process," said Freitas.

Hillis agreed with Freitas: "I think it's important to allow the Sailors who will be working in them to wear them before the decision is made and allow them to express their opinions and preferences."

Master Chief Gunner's Mate Phillip R. Montgomery is the senior enlisted person on the West Coast uniform selection board.

Montgomery expects to see some changes in the near future in Navy uniforms, especially in the pockets and bell bottoms, but the overall goal of the board is to improve the quality of the garments today's Sailors are wearing.

Source: Bish, LoraLei. "New Look for Navy?"All Hands. 959 (March 1997): 6.


New Flight Deck Trousers Debut on Enterprise

The next Navy "fashion trend" won't be seen on the runways of Paris, but on the flight deck of an aircraft carrier.

USS Enterprise (CVN-65) was recently selected as the first deployed carrier authorized to wear the newly designed flight deck trousers.

The Navy-blue trousers were designed and tested by the Naval Supply Systems Command at Mechanicsburg, Pa., in conjunction with the Naval Clothing and Textile Research Facility, based at Natick, Mass. The new flight deck trousers are a 65 percent polyester and 35 percent cotton twill blend. Each pair costs approximately $25.

After the fleet evaluated two initial designs, the final product was issued to Enterprise Sailors.

"They're great. They feel better than any other uniform I've ever worn," said Airman Donquell Brown of the ship's V-2 division.

Although the new flight deck pants resemble the camouflage pants that have been used since 1997, there are some differences. Velcro straps secure the pockets instead of buttons and there are no adjustment strings. Unlike the camouflage pants, the new pants come in specific sizes.

"A great benefit of these new pants, especially for the junior Sailors, is the wear and tear on the uniform," said Chief Aviation Boatswain's Mate (AW) Mark H. Newman, leading chief of the bow catapults division. "The new trousers are thicker and more durable, making them last longer than camouflage or even utilities."

Naval Air Force Atlantic Fleet spent more than $60,000 for more than 3,000 pairs of the new flight deck trousers. According to ABE1(AW) Paul G. Robinson, this was a good investment.

"Not only do they look good and are comfortable, but it has changed the attitudes of our flight deck personnel," Robinson said. "With a specific uniform they can call their own, most of the flight deck personnel feel like their hard work out there is really appreciated."

Source: Chapman, Christopher. "New Flight Deck Trousers Debut on Enterprise." All Hands. 1015 (November 2001): 14.


Enlisted Personnel Uniform to be Changed: Trousers Get Fly Front, Hip and Side Pockets, Coat-Style Sleeves

Two advance changes in the uniform for enlisted personnel have been approved by the Secretary of the Navy.

No date for official adoption by personnel has been set. Such date is expected to provide a period during which the old-style uniform will continue to be authorized as long as serviceable.

Blue trousers will have hip and slash side pockets, with a fly front. The dress blue jumper will be provided with coat-style sleeves to replace the present button cuffs.

Uniforms of both officer and enlisted personnel have been under study for some time by the Navy Department and the above are the first of the proposed changes to be approved.

Source: "Enlisted Personnel Uniform to Be Changed: Trousers Get Fly Front, Hip and Side Pockets, Coat-Style Sleeves."All Hands. 375 (May 1948): 33.


No More Bell Bottoms? Sailor's Traditional Garb Goes Overboard If Three Basic Uniforms Pass Muster

A Coxswain, USN, took pen in hand recently and let the Navy Department know how he felt about changing the enlisted man's uniform.

"The present uniform," he asserted firmly, "is as much a part of the Navy as the USS Missouri … is the most efficient seagoing uniform that could ever be perfected… can be stowed in a very small space. Any other uniform would require larger storage, locker and laundry space, thereby creating a hazard to battle efficiency."

A seaman first class was equally positive. "The present enlisted man's uniform," he wrote, "is a monkey suit and it drives me nuts. What do you think I am - an orangutan?"

This month, tests will begin in the Atlantic and Pacific fleets, the 9th and 10th Naval Districts, to decide the issue - is the era of the 13 buttons, white stripes and tiny pockets to end at last? Proposed new uniforms for enlisted personnel, other than chief petty officers and cooks and stewards, will be the subjects of the tests.

If the new uniforms are adopted, the Navy will scuttle the blue flat hat, existing dress and undress blue jumpers, the present blue trousers which are referred to more romantically than accurately as bell bottoms, the black neckerchief, the present white jumper, and the white pants without hip pockets. The white hat, peacoat and dungarees would be retained, although a new gray working uniform would replace the latter in many cases.

One thousand sets of each of the proposed new blues, whites and grays were scheduled to be sent to each of the fleets for study under actual sea conditions.

In the 9th Naval District, where icy winds from Canada howl across the Great Lakes and the midwest plains, 500 sets of blues and 250 sets of grays were to be tried out. An in San Juan, Puerto Rico, the 10th District headquarters, where the sun failed to shine only 17 days in six years, 250 grays and 500 whites were to be tested.

CinPac, CincLant, Com9 and Com10 have been requested to report to Washington on the outcome of the tests. After that, if the reports are favorable, the new uniforms may become official but only when present uniform stocks are depleted.

Briefly, this is what the proposed new uniforms look like:

Blue Dress "Jumper" - A blue jacket of design somewhat similar to the Army battle jacket, sometimes called the "Eisenhower," made of the same material as the present dress jumper. Two large patch-type breast pockets are secured with buttons beneath the flaps. It has a small, lapel-type collar, and five buttons down the front, secured beneath a vertical flap so none of these buttons is visible when the jacket is worn. An overlapping tab at the waist, to the right of the lowest button, is secured with a snap fastener. Button tabs at each side of the waist permit tightening or loosening, as do the double buttons on the cuffs. There are no inside pockets or white stripes.

Blue Trousers - Same design as officer's trousers, but the material is the same as the present enlisted man's lace-ups. They have two side pockets, watch pocket, and two hip pockets, are worn with a belt, pressed the way civilians press theirs, and have no cuffs. The fly has five buttons. There isn't the faintest suggestion of a bell bottom.

White Shirt - A sports type, of the same material as the present white uniform. Depending upon the uniform of the day specified, it may be worn open at the collar, or with a necktie, secured in conventional four-in-hand fashion, as officers tie their ties. Like the jacket, the shirt has two large breast pockets, with flaps which button down. The Naval Uniform Board has recommended that the shirt be of pullover or slip-on type, with just two buttons at the top, on the ground that it would be easier to take care of, although shirts buttoning all the way have also been proposed.

Blue Shirt - Same design as the white shirt, made of material similar to that of the present undress blue jumper.

White Trousers - Same design as the new blue trousers, same material as the present white uniform. Hip pockets would be the principal variation from the present white trousers.

Grays - Shirt and trousers similar to those now worn by chief petty officers, although shirt may be slip-on rather than coat type.

Headgear - Blue garrison hat of same material as dress blues; gray garrison hat of same material as gray uniform; the present white hat, and a gray, baseball-type cap similar to those worn by some personnel aboard carriers.

The dress, blue, uniform would consist of the white shirt, blue jacket, ribbons, blue trousers, blue garrison cap, black necktie, black socks and black shoes. In inclement weather, COs would authorize wearing of the blue shirt instead of the white, with a light blue necktie.

An alternative dress uniform, designated as dress, blue, C, would provide for wearing the white trousers with the blue jacket, instead of blue trousers, and the socks could be white, natural color or black. Undress, blues would consist of the blue shirt, blue trousers, blue garrison cap, black socks and black shoes.

The dress, white, uniform would consist of white shirt, ribbons, white trousers, white hat, black necktie, white, natural color or black socks, and black shoes.

Undress, white, A, would be the same outfit, but without the necktie or ribbons. Undress, white, B, would differ from undress, white, A, in one respect - you could take off your shirt.

The summer working uniform would consist of gray shirt, gray trousers, gray cap, black socks and black shoes. Dungarees would be worn only for the really dirty work, in which there would be likelihood that dirt, oil or grease would get on the clothing.

Boatswain's mates, quartermasters, guard petty officers, and other petty officers on watch on deck, mail orderlies, buglers, messengers, sideboys, sentries, men on guard and patrol detail, and the coxswains of all boats would wear the light blue necktie with undress, blue, and a black necktie with undress, white, A. Other men, however, would not wear a necktie with undress, blue, or undress, white, A, except on occasion when prescribed.

Bodies of men under arms, including their petty officers, would not wear neckties with undress, blue, and undress, white, A, except on guard.

One of the questions which enlisted men ask about the change is:

"Why doesn't the Navy just provide enlisted personnel with uniforms similar to those worn by officers or chiefs, except for insignia?"

The answer comes from an officer in the uniform section of BuPers, who was an enlisted man himself for 16 ½ years and wore "bell bottoms" for 10 ½ years before he made chief.

"The new uniforms," he says, "are washable, and may be worn without pressing if they are properly folded for stowage in lockers. Obviously it would be impracticable to have dry cleaning and pressing facilities aboard ship sufficient to take care of an entire crew. As it is, chiefs and officers must just get along as best as they can without such equipment, except for pressing machines aboard large ships. Installation of additional equipment would undoubtedly necessitate removal of much more vital gear. Dry cleaning fluid is also a fire hazard - and anyone who has been through a fire at sea certainly will agree that no new fire hazards should be added."

An officer-type uniform is a considerable stowage problem aboard ship when compared with the proposed new jacket for enlisted men, this officer said. Coat hangers are a virtual necessity with the former, but the jacket can be folded and stowed, if hangers or space for hangings are not available.

The twin problems of cleaning and stowage were major factors in the deliberations of the Naval Uniform Board which resulted in the new uniform designs. The fleet tests in which Washington is particularly interested are those to be made aboard ships on which facilities are limited.

One enlisted man proposed a set of dress blues almost exactly like those which the board approved, with two notable exceptions. He would have gold stripes on the sleeves, and, running down the sides of the trouser legs, gold stripes an inch wide. Fears were expressed, quite unofficially of course, that such a uniform might result in confusion of sailors with movie ushers. A bluejacket might be AWOL for months in the Roxy, disguised as an employee.

The desire to retain the distinction of the Navy uniform was one of the reasons for proposing retention of the white hat. White garrison hats were tried - and were found to make a sailor look like a soda jerker. White hats with visors on them also were tried, but looked like the milkman's cap.

It has also been suggested that a gold USN insignia, such as that worn by cooks and stewards, be attached to the garrison caps, and the collars of shirts when the jackets are not worn.

The desirability of placing rating badges on both sleeves to permit easier recognition, either in the present size or in a smaller size similar to those worn by WAVES, is also being studied. Another possible change in the rating badges would eliminate the white eagle, leaving only the chevrons and specialty marks.

Another question raised by enlisted men was:

"Will enlisted men have a chance to influence the final form of the new uniform if one is adopted?"

In response to this question, BuPers authorized the following statement:

"Every effort has been and is being made to give as many enlisted personnel as practicable a chance to speak up on changing the uniform and its final form. Questionnaires and polls showed a feeling for a change. However, there was a large number who did not want a change. The proposed new uniform is hoped to be satisfactory to all and at the same time, to be serviceable and practical. Sample uniforms have been sent to some ships and stations where a good cross-section of experience can be had in order to get sound recommendations regarding service use.

"After suitable trial the commanding officers will make recommendations. The recommendations definitely will be based on the reactions of the enlisted men who have been wearing the uniforms as well as the performance of the clothes.

"This question is of such interest to the whole Navy that no stone is being left unturned in the search for the answer."

Men will be selected aboard test ships and stations to wear a regular prescribed outfit of each uniform exclusively, under as many and varied service conditions as possible, for the duration of the three-month test period.

There is no doubt that enlisted men have ideas on the subject - and so do their sisters, wives, and sweethearts. The most agitation for a change comes from older men, letters which the Navy has received would indicate, apparently because of a feeling that the present garb is notably unflattering to men who are getting thick in the middle and thin on top. Their wives seem to agree with them.

At the same time, there is considerable sentiment favoring retention of the present uniform, both from the younger men and their girl friends.

The agitation for a change, which was coming hot and heavy early last year, slumped sharply around July. Since then, the sentiments of the letter writers have been running more strongly in favor of retaining the present uniform. This may be due to the fact that older men, returning to civilian life, are being replaced by young recruits who feel that on them "it looks good."

In any event, there seem to be few neutral opinions on the subject, and the Navy isn't going to move until it is certain that the new uniform will be both practical and popular.

Source: "No More Bell Bottoms? Sailor's Traditional Garb Goes Overboard If Three Basic New Uniforms Pass Muster."All Hands. 347 (February 1946): 6-9.


Have Bell Bottoms - Will Travel

While eating lunch in an Oslo, Norway, café the young seaman turned to his companion, "Say Boats, maybe you can explain something to me. All day people have been coming up and tapping me on the back. When I turn around to find out what they want, they just nod and continue on their way without saying a word. What's the scoop?"

The second class boatswain's mate leaned back in his chair, "You, my young friend, have been playing an important part in one of the oldest traditions concerning seagoing men." He paused for effect, then continued, "It's an old Scandinavian belief that men of the sea, who have just completed a long voyage, are lucky. Here in Oslo the tradition has grown up that by touching a sailor the luck will be transmitted. But that isn't all. To have the luck passed on, they must touch a sailor in one particular spot, the stars on the back of his collar."

This little incident illustrates one of the many legends and traditions concerning the uniform worn by American bluejackets. They all help make it the best known and most easily recognized uniform worn by any member of any armed force in the world today. From Hong Kong to Paris, from Alaska to Buenos Aires, the American sailor's uniform is known and recognized without a moment's hesitation.

Why are the famed "bellbottom trousers, coats o' Navy blue" so well known? There are two prime reasons. First, over the years the uniform has defied any radical changes. Second, over those same years, the American Navy has visited almost every major port in the world, giving every nationality a chance to see and become familiar with the uniform. In some cases many years may have elapsed between visits, but when the US Navy returned, the uniform was the same and there was no mistaking the identity of the men wearing it.

It's not only in the port cities that people recognize the American sailor, as a couple of Navymen found out when they wangled a special liberty pass from their ship for a week-end trip to Brussels, Belgium. The two were sure that they would not be recognized as US Navymen, since American sailors seldom have a chance to get that far inland.

They soon found out that they were mistaken. Within an hour a distinguished looking man approached and asked, "Aren't you American sailors?"

He went on to explain that during World War I he had run into some "Yank" Navymen and he had no trouble identifying the two from what he could remember of the uniform. He then went on to tell several sea stories about the Navy and especially about the uniform. Like a great majority of both Navymen and civilians, he had heard that the stripes on the sailor's collar represented the three great victories of Lord Nelson, the great English admiral, and that the neckerchief had first been worn as a mourning badge for him.

As romantic as those two anecdotes may sound, historians and researchers can find no basis in fact to support them. The origin of the stripes on the collar precedes Lord Nelson's day when the British Admiralty put all enlisted men in the same uniform. Until that time, each had dressed pretty much to suit his own taste, in so far as his pocketbook would allow.

The board that met to discuss the uniform for the ratings, found that a great majority of the men had taken to embroidering their collars with various types of white striping. Since the men seemed to like this decoration, the board recommended that there be uniformity and for some reason which has never been disclosed, picked the three stripes that now adorn the jumpers of both the US and British Navy.

Later, when the American Navy had occasion to design a uniform for the men, the stripes on the cuffs of the jumper were added, but with a special significance. Petty officers, seamen and first class firemen wore three stripes, ordinary seamen and second class firemen wore two and landsmen, coal heavers and boys wore one. This same system remained in effect until after World War II when all enlisted men were authorized to wear three stripes on their cuffs, regardless of their pay grade or occupation.

The legend concerning the neckerchief serving as a mourning badge for Lord Nelson has never been supported. The origin of the neckerchief seems to have come from an even more practical use than the stripes. In the early days of both the US Navy and the British sea service, the old-time sailors lacked the facilities of a barber shop and as a result would let their hair grow long during their time at sea. To keep the hair out of their way, they braided it into a pigtail, and this soon became a mark of a sailor.

To keep their jerseys clean, the salts started wearing either a bandana or a detachable and washable collar. This not only cut down on the amount of laundry, but also helped conserve fresh water during long spells at sea.

While today's uniforms for the first six pay grades of Navy enlisted men hasn't changed radically over the years, there was a time when it looked as though it were going to get a complete overhaul. Shortly after World War II there arose a clamor for a uniform change, with those boosting the change claiming that many parts of the uniform had outgrown their usefulness. Their specific complaints referred to the collar, neckerchief, jumper and bell bottom trousers.

In Washington the Uniform Board, after many trials, came up with a completely different outfit as a possible new uniform for Navymen. It was a smart looking outfit, consisting of a jacket, shirt and tie; trousers with a fore and aft crease, and an overseas cap. Those who had recommended a change were satisfied. Then the uniform was given the acid test. It was sent to the backbone of the Navy, the operating forces, for appraisal and comments.

The sailors in both the Atlantic and Pacific Fleets were given a chance to see and try the new uniform. The reception it received set off a chain reaction that would have compared favorably with an H-Bomb.

The men in the Fleet took one look at the proposed uniform and started writing letters by the barrelful. Some were lengthy, going into great detail as to why the uniform was impractical for men at sea. Others were short, but equally eloquent, as witness the few choice words voiced by an unknown petty officer: "Dear Sirs; It ain't Navy. Respectfully."

The arguments against the proposed uniform were many and ranged from a lack of space in which to store it, to the lack of comfort as compared to the traditional uniform. It was stated, and with good reason, that a combatant vessel in the Navy just doesn't give every man enough room to hang a coat, pants and the several shirts which would be needed.

In addition, argued the men, shipboard laundry facilities just weren't big enough to handle the job of keeping white or blue shirts cleaned and pressed for the entire crew.

There was also the matter of sheer comfort. Almost every letter stressed the fact that for both working and liberty the proposed shirt, tie and coat couldn't begin to compare with the open necked jumper.

In this respect, it is interesting to note the opinion of a man who definitely needs comfort and ease of movement in clothes in his line of work, Gene Kelly, one of today's foremost modern dancers and also a former Navyman. In an interview with Mr. Kelly, this writer asked why it was that so many musical productions were staged with the dancers wearing the bluejacket's uniform.

At the time, Mr. Kelly was working on a picture in London, England, and was wearing a Navy uniform. "It's like this," he said, "one of the first things that any dancer looks for when he is planning a big number, is an eye-catching costume. One that the spectator immediately associates with himself or some particular element with which he is familiar. For that, the Navy uniform can't be beat. Another, and even more important reason for many dancers in bell-bottoms, is the comfort of the uniform. As you know, a dancer needs more than the usual amount of freedom of movement and this uniform," pointing to the one he wore, "doesn't hinder in any way."

That is an expert's opinion on the comfort afforded by the uniform, but it isn't necessary to go any further than the nearest CPO to reinforce that theory. Granted that men who wear the fore and aft rig like their uniform, but when asked how it compares for comfort with a bluejacket's uniform, nine out of ten will reply that the bell bottoms are far superior.

When the shouting and tumult about the new uniform died down, the Uniform Board tallied the results. They found that the men who would have been slated to wear it were strongly against the change. They wanted to keep the one they had. The final score was 79 per cent in favor of the current uniform, 13 per cent wanted the new one, and eight per cent did not care or gave no opinion. The proposed idea was immediately shelved.

Since that time, the only minor change in the basic uniform has been the addition of a fly front on the trousers, replacing the old 13 button style. However, there are still many old salts, and some of the younger ones too, who prefer the 13-button style with an almost fanatical devotion, and who deplore the day when they will have to be replaced with the new trousers.

In this respect, there has always been a belief that the 13 buttons on the old style trousers represented the original 13 colonies of the US. Like so many other stories, there is no basis for this one. Actually, before 1894 the trousers had only seven buttons. It wasn't until the broadfall front was enlarged that the 13 buttons were put on the uniform and then only to add to the symmetry of the design.

Strange as it may seem, during the US Navy's first forty years of existence, there was no prescribed uniform for the enlisted men. During that time various orders and regulations provided for officers' uniforms, but nowhere can be found any mention of what the men before the mast were supposed to wear.

Despite the lack of regulations the EMs of those days did have a certain uniformity about them. Most of the clothes they wore were purchased aboard ship and charged off to their pay. The ship would stock up on basic items of wear, such as jerseys, pants and caps, before any long trip. These would all be the same design, and during any extended tour of duty it was a sure thing that everyone would be wearing those items by the time the ship returned to the US.

That didn't provide for complete uniformity throughout the Navy, however, as each ship did its own buying and it was up to the skipper of the individual ship to decide what type of clothing would be stocked. As a result, the clothing worn varied greatly from ship to ship. In this connection, one of the first recorded descriptions of an enlisted man's uniform comes from Navy files telling of the arrival of Commodore Stephen Decatur in New York with the frigates United States and Macedonia in 1813. The files disclose that the sailors were clothed in "glazed canvas hats with stiff brims, decked with streamers of ribbon, blue jackets buttoned loosely over waistcoats and blue trousers with bell bottoms."

It was three years later before the first regulations concerning the EMs' uniform were sent to the Navy. They came from Secretary of the Navy Crowninshield in September 1817 and both a summer and winter uniform were described for general wear throughout the Navy. The summer uniform was described as, "a white duck jacket, trousers and vest." The winter uniform prescribed was similar to that worn by Decatur's men and was to be, "Blue jacket and trousers, red vest, yellow buttons and black hat."

Secretary Crowninshield's regulations also provided that when men were employed in washing the decks they were to be barefooted and have their pants rolled up. From this it has been generally acknowledged that the original purpose of the bell bottoms was to facilitate pulling the bottoms up over the knee when swabbing down the decks. This throws another old idea out the window, namely the school of thought that maintains that bell bottoms were designed so they could easily be slipped off in an emergency when abandoning ship.

Take away the vests from those 1817 uniforms, add a few minor changes and additions such as the rating badges, which were first introduced in 1866, and you have the uniform that today's Navyman wears. A uniform that can be rolled up, packed tightly in a seabag, carried halfway around the world, unrolled and worn without pressing or other maintenance and yet retain a smart appearance.

There is another big advantage to the rolling and packing procedure. You can, with little strain, get all the uniforms you need for an extended tour of duty in one seabag or one small locker aboard ship.

While various parts of the uniform do not, in the modern-day Navy, perform the function they were originally intended for, the prime function of the over-all uniform is still the same. It serves to identify the Navyman as a member of the finest outfit in the world. Whatever arguments may arise in the coming years over the uniform, there is no denying that no matter where you see a sailor you know he, like the uniform, is NAVY.

Source: Ohl, Bob. "Have Bell Bottoms … Will Travel." All Hands. 460 (June 1955): 28-30.


Pros, Cons Speak Their Piece

Following are typical comments which the Navy has received with respect to proposals that the enlisted man's uniform be changed:

From "Ten Young Girls": "We think the sailor's uniform is swell just like it is. It is tops with us girls. As for the sailor who said he couldn't land a girl in port, decked out in this monkey suit, tell him for us girls - don't blame the uniform …"

A former sailor: "Custom reconciles Greeks to skirts, Scots to kilts, natives to saucers sewed in their lips and sailors to kiddy clothes … The time is ripe (for a change). Let the new uniform … be something lively, snappy, rakish, clipper, classy - yet dignified with design as becoming to them as to officers and gentlemen!"

QM1c: "Some of the childish actions … by enlisted men are, in my opinion due to the uniform. I, myself, have done things that I normally wouldn't have done, if I hadn't felt that I was dressed as a child."

MoMM2c: "The uniform should stay the way it is. Tradition and precedent are carried out in most everything else; why, then, shouldn't they be carried out in the uniform? There is entirely too much heed taken to 'outside the Navy's opinions.' After all, we are wearing the uniforms and why shouldn't a vote be taken by the men?"

A girl in South Carolina: "My cousin, who has been in the Navy for six years, says he wouldn't change his bell bottom trousers for anything and I agree with him. They look so good, and they say they feel good too."

MoMM3c: "Do away with the flat hat. More pockets."

SC2c: "I think that the enlisted man's uniform should be changed into one resembling that of a CPO."

TM3c: "The whole uniform … is too old fashioned. The heck with tradition. Think of the man that wears it. Make it like a chief's uniform or similar."

S1c: "I think that it (present uniform) is good enough for anyone."

Man on Ellis Island, N.Y.: "The collars, excess buttons, and bell bottoms may be traditional, but they certainly are both uncomfortable and wasteful."

Source: "Pros, Cons Speak Their Piece." All Hands. 347 (February 1946): 8.


Slacks to Replace Coveralls for W R

Navy blue denim dungaree slacks and blue cotton chambray shirts may be designated for Women's Reservists when the nature of their work requires protective covering, under latest uniform changes announced 25 January 1944 by the Chief of Naval Personnel in a letter to all continental shore stations (Pers. 34-RT-A2-3).

These items eventually will replace the aviation coverall which will not be manufactured after the dungaree slacks and chambray shirts have been put into production. When these are prescribed for work, wearing of the regulation men's dungaree trousers and chambray shirt is optional.

When prescribed by the commanding officer, the navy blue garrison cap, now authorized for male personnel, may be worn by Women's Reserve officers and chief petty officers within station limits. Wearing of sweaters is optional when necessary for protection, and when approved by the commanding officer.

Further changes in the uniform regulations also are contained in the letter.

Source: "Slacks to Replace Coveralls for W R."All Hands. 324 (March 1944): 67.


News Release
Office of Assistant Secretary of Defense (Public Affairs)
Washington, D.C. 20301


No. 358-77
OXford 73189 (Copies)
OXford 75131 (Info)


August 1, 1977

Chief of Naval Operations Decides on Bell Bottoms

Chief of Naval Operations Admiral James L. Holloway III announced today the decision to return to the traditional bell bottom style uniform for sailors in the first four pay-grades (E-1 through E-4).

Phase one of bringing the bell bottoms back will be on a one-year wear tests by 20,000 fleet unit personnel during 1978. The wear tests has been ordered to evaluate the new bell bottom uniform in such areas as durability and ease of maintenance of new fabrics. Fleet commanders-in-chief will select specific Navy units to participate in the test.

In spring of next year, it is expected that the new bell bottom uniform will be available commercially. At that time, other E-1 through E-4 fleet personnel, if they desire, will be authorized to purchase and wear the new uniform.

While the wear test is underway, the Navy will stop issuing the double-breasted service dress blue coat to recruits. The current winter dress blue and summer blue uniforms will be authorized, as appropriate, for service dress wear during the evaluation period.

Both blue and white versions of the classic dress and undress Navy uniforms with jumper and bell bottom styling will be tested. Fabrics to be tested include a blue serge material and a white cotton-polyester blend. Blue melton material, which previous bell bottom blues were made from, is no longer available in the quantity required and the white cotton polyester material is expected to be an improvement over the all-cotton whites worn before.

The traditional white hat will also be tested in the cotton-polyester blend.

Final details of the full uniform conversion plan will be determined and announced following the evaluation period.


Source: United States. Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense (Public Affairs). "Chief of Naval Operations Decides on Bell Bottoms." Press Release, dated 1 August 1977.

Published: Thu Jan 12 08:56:19 EST 2017