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Personal Appearance

Beards and mustaches in the US Navy

7 May 1963

The earliest Uniform Regulations mentioning this subject were those of 1841 under Secretary Badger, from which the famous "Badger whiskers" derived. Under "Dress of the Navy" page 14:

"The hair of all persons belonging to the Navy, when in actual service, is to be kept short. No part of the beard is to be worn long excepting whiskers, which shall not descend more than one inch below the tip of the ear, and thence in line towards the corners of the mouth."

By 1852 the general order describing uniforms says (page 4):

"The hair of all persons belonging to the Navy, when in actual service is to be kept short. No part of the beard is to be worn long, and the whiskers shall not descend more than two inches below the top of the ear, -- except at sea, in high latitudes, when the Regulation may, for the time, be dispensed with by order of the Commander of a Squadron, or of a vessel acting under separate orders. Mustaches and imperials are not to be worn by officers or men on any pretence whatever."

Mustaches and imperials had been absolutely prohibited under the regulations but Secretary Dobbin took a more liberal view and said the beard might be worn at the leisure of the individual, but when worn to be clipped short and neatly trimmed.

From 1886 through 1947 the regulations are all identical:

"The hair, beard and mustache shall be worn neatly trimmed. The face shall be kept clean-shaved, except that a mustache or beard and mustache, may be worn at discretion. No eccentricities in the manner of wearing the hair, beard, or mustache shall be allowed."

Today the rule is:

"The face shall be kept clean shaven, except when a mustache and/or beard is worn. The mustache and beard shall be kept short and neatly trimmed and no eccentricity in the manner of wearing these shall be permitted.

"Hair shall be worn neatly and closely trimmed. The hair may be clipped at the edges of the sides and back, but must be so trimmed as to present an evenly graduated appearance, and shall not exceed 3 inches in length."

Source: Loomis, [David F.?] Correspondence, concerning beards and mustaches in the US Navy, dated 7 May 1963.


Navy Uniform Regulations Reminders

Navy uniform regulations state that wigs and hairpieces may be worn by active duty personnel while in uniform or duty status only for cosmetic reasons to cover natural baldness or a physical disfiguration. They will be of good quality and fit, present a natural appearance and conform to grooming standards.

The standards for fingernails and jewelry are as follows: fingernails will not extend past finger-tips for men and one-quarter inch past for women. They should be kept clean. Only one ring per hand is authorized while in uniform, excluding a wedding ring. Consult the regulation regarding the wear of jewelry.

Source: "Navy Uniform Regulation Reminders."All Hands. 887 (February 1991): 3.


Chapter 11 CPO Uniform Standards


The styles of the CPO uniform have changed since the founding days of the U.S. Navy. However, the caliber of the people who wear it and the pride and professionalism they display have not changed.

You undergo one of the most significant changes of your naval career the day you put on the hat. Just as your responsibilities change, your uniform and accessories also change.

This chapter describes the uniforms and accessories you will wear on different occasions. It also tells you how to maintain your uniforms so that they reflect your pride and professionalism in the Navy.

Grooming standards are essentially the same for all personnel; but as a senior petty officer, you must interpret and enforce these standards. This chapter presents these requirements to you as the supervisor rather than you as the worker.

Before actually being advanced or frocked, you will attend the Chief Petty Officer Indoctrination Course. This course provides you with an indepth, up-to-date, and hands-on introduction to your new uniform requirements.


When was the term chief petty officer first used? Where did our uniform styles originate? These questions have generated many discussions in CPO messes over the years.

According to naval records, the first mention of the chief petty officer was on a ship's muster roll in 1775. This brief mention of the CPO title did not resurface in naval history for almost 100 years.

The history and design of our uniform date back to the 18th century Continental Navy of 1776. With the colonization of the new world, a need for a navy became apparent. Many of the people that settled our nation learned their seafaring skills in England. These sailors brought not only their seafaring skills, but also their customs, traditions, and uniform similarities to this country. Many of our uniform styles can be traced to the British Royal Navy. As you can see in figure 11-1 [not included], many of the original uniform styles have remained throughout the years.

In 1865 a Navy regulation reestablished the term chief petty officer. The term was first used for the ship's Master-at-Arms. It made him responsible for preservation of order and obedience to all regulations. An excerpt from an 1865 regulation tasked the senior enlisted person with the following responsibility:

"The Master-at-Arms will be the chief petty officer of the ship in which he shall serve. All orders from him in regard to the police of the vessel, the preservation of order, and the obedience to regulations must be obeyed by all petty officers and others of the crew. But he shall have no right to succession in command, and shall exercise no authority in matters no specified above."

This, however, did not establish the term chief as a rate. It was merely a function rather than a rate. Petty officers were divided into petty officers of the line and petty officers of the staff. Chief referred to the principal petty officer of the ship.

The next reference to the term chief was in U.S. Navy Regulations Circular Number 41 dated 8 January 1885. Here again the term chief refers to a function or title rather than a rate. The men filling these chief billets were actually first and second class petty officers. The classification of these ratings can be seen in figure 11-2 [not included].

A significant change to uniforms and rating badges occurred in 1886. The first class petty officer wore a double-breasted sack-style jacket, while petty officers second class and below retained the traditional jumper-style uniform. The first class rating badge consisted of an eagle, three chevrons, and a specialty mark. The Master-at-Arms rating badge, however, consisted of an eagle, three chevrons, a specialty mark, and three arcs or rockers. This jacket along with the Master-at-Arms rating badge falsely led many people to believe this was a chief petty officer uniform.

On 25 February 1893, President Benjamin Harrison issued an executive order outlining the pay scale for Navy enlisted personnel. This executive order was issued to the Navy as General Order Number 409. This general order divided the pay scale into rates and for the first time listed CPOs. Both General Order Number 409 and U.S. Navy Regulation Circular Number 1 listed chief petty officers as distinct rates. These documents went into effect on 1 April 1893. All evidence indicates this as the date the chief petty officer rate was actually established.

So, what is the answer to the question, When was the term chief petty officer first used in the Navy? Based on U.S. Navy Regulation Circular Number 1, the majority of first class petty officer ratings were automatically reclassed as chief petty officer ratings.

On 24 September 1894 General Order Number 431 was issued. This general order changed the three rockers on the Master-at-Arms rating badge to one rocker. We know this as the rating badge of the CPO today. This general order also changed first, second, and third class chevrons to their present-day form.


You should consider a neat, clean uniform to be a tool of your trade. As a CPO, your trade has changed to the business of getting things done by your subordinates. A CPO who presents a sharp military appearance usually gets things done better than the nonprofessional who presents a poor appearance. Think about who receives the most respect: the person who presents a sloppy appearance or the one who wears the uniform with pride. A person who rates respect looks the part.


The uniforms prescribed for you as a CPO are divided into four separate categories. They are dinner dress, ceremonial, service dress, and working uniforms.

Figure 11-5 [not included] shows dinner dress uniforms. You normally wear these uniforms to the types of official functions that are equivalent to your civilian counterpart's black tie function. The dinner dress blue jacket and dinner dress white jacket uniforms are optional. If the official function calls for this type of uniform, you should wear it if you have one. If you do not have the uniform, you may wear another prescribed uniform. You should already have combinations of the dinner dress blue, dinner dress white, and tropical dinner dress blue uniforms. Although you may not always wear the same components for these functions, you will wear the same basic uniform.

Full dress blue and full dress white are variations of the service dress blue and service dress white uniforms. You wear medals on these uniforms instead of the ribbons that you wear on service dress uniforms.

You normally wear full dress uniforms on ceremonial occasions. Such occasions include change of command, official visits with honors, and visits to foreign men-of-war and official dignitaries.

Figure 11-6 [not included] shows service dress white and service dress blue uniforms. You normally wear this uniform to official functions that do not prescribe formal dress, dinner dress, or full dress uniforms. The civilian equivalent would be a coat-and-tie function. Service dress blue yankee, an optional uniform made up of components from required uniforms, may be prescribed for official functions. The service dress blue uniform is authorized for travel during any uniform season unless civilian clothing is required for safety.

Figure 11-7 [not included] shows summer white, winter blue, summer khaki, and tropical white uniforms. You normally wear these uniforms for office work, watch standing, liberty, and business ashore. These uniforms may be prescribed as the uniform of the day. You normally wear the tropical white uniform in tropical climates. You may also wear it for the same occasions as the other service uniforms. Females do not have an equivalent tropical white uniform.

Figure 11-8 [not included] shows the working uniforms - working khaki, winter working blue, and tropical khaki. You wear these uniforms when working conditions for service uniforms are unsafe or the service uniform would become unduly soiled. You normally wear the tropical khaki uniform in tropical climates. Females do not have an equivalent tropical khaki uniform.

If you are assigned to an aviation command, you have the option of wearing the aviation working green uniform. You may wear this uniform, if authorized, when working at aviation activities, flying, or aboard vessels servicing aircraft. You may also wear this uniform at advanced bases when prescribed by the senior officer present.


As a member of the United States Navy, you should set and maintain the highest standards of uniform appearance. Your attention to detail reflects the Navy's image to the public. You should keep your uniform scrupulously clean. The gold bullion lace, devices, and insignia should be bright and free from tarnish and corrosion. When you are in uniform, no articles, such as pencils, pens, jewelry, combs, large wallets, cigarettes, or pipes, should protrude or be visible on your uniform. If you wear a cross, pendant, or some other emblem, you should ensure that it is not visible. You may wear wristwatches, bracelets, and rings while in uniform, but they should be in good taste. You may wear tie clasps, cuff links, and shirt studs as outlined in U.S. Navy Uniform Regulations(Uniform Regs).

When wearing jewelry you should not wear something that would create a safety hazard for you or one of your workers. You should avoid wearing any eccentric or faddish articles that may bring attention to you in either a negative or positive manner.

You may wear sunglasses when not in military formation, but they should be conservative in style.

You should wear undergarments that preserve the dignity and appearance of your uniform.


The most dramatic change to your uniform is your cap. As a CPO, you wear a combination cap similar to the type worn by commissioned officers except with minor changes. One of these changes is the cap device, the CPO insignia. This insignia is a fouled anchor with the silver letters "USN" superimposed on the anchor shank. Instead of a gold chin strap, as on the officer's cap, the chin strap on the CPO cap is leather, covered with black vinyl. This black vinyl gives the appearance of patent leather. The strap adjusts by two adjusting loops, one on either end. The chin strap attaches to the cap with two small Navy eagle gilt buttons. When you wear the cap, the eagles on these buttons should be upright. When assembling the combination cap, you should ensure the rivet (centered in the adjustment Loop) is to your left when wearing the cap. You wear the cap squarely on the head, 1 ½ inches above the eyebrow. You may also wear a garrison cap or tropical helmet if it is prescribed by proper authority. You wear a tropical helmet with a miniature cap device centered on the front of the helmet in tropical climates. Women CPOs may wear either a tiara or the combination cap with the formal dinner dress white and blue uniform.

Rating Badges

The CPO rating badge is similar to the first class rating badge. The basic difference is the position of the eagle. On the CPO badge, it is perched on the center point of the rocker or arc. The chevrons on the male rating badge measure 3 ¼ inches across; on the female rating badge, they measure 2 ½ inches across or about ¾ the size of the male rating badge. The color of the rocker and chevrons depends on each particular uniform.

The rating badge worn on the dress blue uniform has a navy blue background with the eagle and specialty mark embroidered in silver thread. The rating badge and service stripes are either scarlet or gold, depending on the length and type of service. Service stripes are discussed later in this chapter.

The white dress dinner jacket rating badge has a white background. The rating badge and service stripes are blue or gold, depending on the length and type of service. The specialty mark is silver. The aviation working green uniform rating badge has a forest green background. The rating badge, service stripes, and specialty mark are navy blue. You do not wear a rating badge on the tropical dinner dress blue, summer white, service dress white, full dress white, dinner dress white, or khaki uniforms.

Senior and Master Chief Petty Officers

The rating badge of a senior or master chief petty officer varies only slightly from the chief petty officer's rating badge. The senior chief petty officer rating badge has a silver star centered about 1 inch above the head of the eagle. On the cap and collar devices, the star is in the ring of the stock. The master chief petty officer rating badge has one star placed about 1 inch above each wing tip. The stars on the cap and collar devices are placed on the upper edge of the stock. The stars for senior and master chief are made of embroidered silver thread. When a master chief petty officer is assigned as the command master chief, the specialty mark is replaced with a silver star. If assigned to a billet as fleet or force master chief, the stars will be of embroidered gold thread. The Master Chief of the Navy wears three gold stars in a line above the eagle. A gold star replaces the rating specialty mark. The collar and cap devices also have three stars, but the center star is slightly higher than the othertwo.

Collar Devices

Figure 11-12 [not included] shows the CPO collar device. On short-sleeved shirts, wear the device with the crown pointing toward the corner of the collar. Center the device on a vertical axis intersecting the USN insignia 1 inch from the front and lower edges of the collar. Figure 11-13 [not included] shows an example of the collar device on short-sleeved khaki and summer white shirts.

You position collar devices differently on long-sleeved shirts. On these shirts wear the collar device parallel to the forward edge of the collar. Center it at a point 1 inch from the forward edge and 1 inch down from the top. Figure 11-13 [not included] shows an example of the positioning of the collar devices on the blue and long-sleeved khaki shirts.

Service Stripes

You wear service stripes, or hash marks, for each 4 years of service. The service stripe for the male CPO is 7 inches long and 3/8 inch wide. The female CPO's service stripe is 5 ¼ inches long and ¼ inch wide. When you wear more than one service stripe, position them ¼ inch apart. The color of the service stripe differs with various uniform requirements and the years of service. CPOs wear scarlet service stripes when they have less than 12 years' total military service or have a break in their good conduct eligibility requirements. Receiving the Navy's Good Conduct Medal, the Reserve Meritorious Service Award, or the Marine Corps Good Conduct Medal depends on your conduct, performance, and reliability. Gold hash marks require that you have at least three service stripes. To continue wearing the gold hash marks requires that you continue to meet the eligibility requirements throughout your career. If you fail to maintain the eligibility requirements for the continued wearing of gold, the 12-year eligibility requirement will be reestablished. A courts-martial conviction also terminates your eligibility to wear gold hash marks.

A person who was authorized to wear gold hash marks upon transfer to the Fleet Reserve may retain this right if recalled to active duty. Personnel recalled to active duty from the Fleet Reserve may retain the requirement to wear gold, provided they were authorized to wear gold hash marks upon transfer to Fleet Reserve. In this case, Fleet Reserve time is considered neutral time for determining additional service stripe.


An award is a term used to denote any decoration, medal, badge, ribbon, or attachment given to a person. Personnel wear all awards in a certain precedence or order as part of the uniform. Precedence indicates relative importance of the award. Awards are divided into the following five categories:

Military decorations
Unit awards
Non-military decorations
Campaign and service awards
Foreign decorations and non-U.S. service awards

PRECEDENCE: You may wear all awards according to their order of precedence as shown in chapter 10 of Uniform Regs. Awards and United States decorations received from other services may be worn below all naval awards.

MILITARY DECORATION: A person receives this award for an act of exceptional bravery or heroism or for particularly meritorious service. These awards receive the highest precedence and include the following decorations:

Medal of Honor
Navy Cross
Purple Heart
Navy Commendation Medal
Navy Achievement Medal

UNIT AWARDS: These awards are similar to military decorations. You may receive these awards for a particular time period specified in a citation. They are usually worn by all personnel who were attached to a unit or command during a particular time period specified in the citation. You may wear unit awards below military decorations. They include the following decorations:

Presidential Unit Citation Ribbon
Navy Unit Commendation Ribbon
Meritorious Unit Commendation
Navy "E"

NON-MILITARY DECORATIONS: You receive these decorations for various personal actions. If you are awarded more than one non-military decoration, the dates the awards are accepted will establish their precedence. One exception to this rule is when two or more awards from the same agency are authorized. The rules for precedence established within that agency will then apply. Additionally you may wear a non-military award on your uniform only if you wear it with at least one military award. Non-military decorations rank next in line after unit awards in order of precedence. A partial listing of non-military decorations follows:

Presidential Medal of Freedom
Gold Lifesaving Medal
Silver Lifesaving Medal
Medal of Merit

CAMPAIGN AND SERVICE AWARDS: You may receive these awards for participation in a war, campaign, or expedition, or to denote creditable service requirements. The following are some of the service awards:

Good Conduct Medal
Naval Reserve Meritorious Service Medal
Expeditionary Medals
Sea Service Deployment Ribbon
Armed Forces Reserve Medal
Naval Reserve Medal

FOREIGN DECORATIONS and NON-U.S. SERVICE AWARDS: You are authorized to accept military decorations from foreign governments. You may wear these decorations in the order you receive them below all other U.S. awards, provided these awards are listed in chapter 10 of Uniform Regs. If unlisted, you may request permission to wear the award from the Navy Board of Awards and Decorations or the Navy Uniform Matters Office. The country awarding the decoration determines the precedence of the awards if you have earned two or more. The following examples are authorized decorations awarded by Vietnam:

National Order of Vietnam
Military Merit Medal
Army Distinguished Service Order
Air Force Distinguished Service Order
Navy Distinguished Service Order

Foreign Unit Awards are awards that do not require individual legislative authorization. You wear them below all other foreign personal decorations. The following lists Foreign Unit Awards in order of precedence:

Philippine Republic Presidential Unit Citation
Korean Presidential Unit Citation
Vietnam Presidential Unit Citation

You wear non-U.S. service awards immediately below all foreign unit awards. Some of them are as follows:

Philippine Defense Ribbon
United Nations Service Medal
United Nations Medal

You wear foreign service awards below non-U.S. service awards. You wear at least one U.S. award when wearing a foreign service award.

Some foreign awards are attached to long ribbons or sashes that you wear around your neck; others are designed as pins that attach to your uniform. You may wear these types of awards on service dress or full dress uniforms while serving in that country. You are not authorized to wear foreign awards after completion of that tour of duty.

MARKSMANSHIP AWARDS: If authorized to wear marksmanship awards, you wear them immediately above the left pocket. You should arrange them according to their seniority, from inboard to outboard, except for the President's Hundred Award, which you wear on the left shoulder. You may wear up to three authorized badges in a row. You may wear only two Excellence in Competition Badges for a specific weapon if you have not earned the Distinguished Badge for the same weapon. You may wear Distinguished Badges or Excellence in Competition Badges received while in another service. When wearing ribbons, place the badges directly below the bottom row of ribbon. If you are wearing large medals, place the badges immediately below the bottom row of medals so that only the medallion of each badge is visible. You should not wear badges with miniature medals. The order of precedence for marksmanship badges is listed below:

U.S. Distinguished International Shooter Badge
Distinguished Marksman Badge
Distinguished Pistol Shot Badge
National Trophy Match Rifleman Excellence in Competition (Gold) Badge

IDENTIFICATION BADGE AND BREAST INSIGNIA: In addition to your awards and decorations, you may have qualified for a specialty insignia or be assigned to a special unit or duty. The specialty insignia is awarded for a warfare specialty or other specialties in which you may have qualified. Identification badges represent the present unit or job to which you are assigned. An identification badge might identify a special command or a function within a command. (For example, if you are assigned to recruiting duty, you would wear a Recruiting Command badge. Another example could be a command career counselor or command chief petty officer badge.) A complete listing of badges and insignias, and the guidelines for wearing them, may be found in chapter 10 of the Uniform Regs. The following special rules apply to the wearing of badges and insignia:

You may not wear a breast insignia or a badge awarded by another armed service or nation unless authorized by the Secretary of the Navy.

You may wear only one warfare specialty insignia. If more than one is earned, you have the option to choose the one you will wear.

You may wear a maximum of two awards, one warfare specialty insignia and one other insignia, such as the Aircrewman, Explosive Ordnance Disposal, or Underwater insignia. (A badge may also be worn in addition to the two insignias.)

Consult chapter 10 of Uniform Regs for the proper wearing and positioning of badges and insignia.

Wearing of Awards

You should wear any decoration, medal, badge, ribbon or attachment awarded to you in the order of precedence and in the manner described in U.S. Navy Uniform Regulations. You should proudly display all awards presented to you.

You should be constantly aware of the appearance of your awards. Are the awards frayed? Do they present an unsightly appearance? It is a good idea to have an extra set of ribbons for inspections and routine replacement. Remember - you're a professional - look the part!

RIBBONS: You wear one, two, or three ribbons in a single row. When authorized more than three ribbons, you wear them in horizontal rows of three each. If not in multiples of three, the uppermost row contains the lesser number. Arrange the center of this row over the center of the one below it. Wear your ribbons without intervals between ribbons or rows of ribbons. Arrange the lower edge of the bottom row centered ¼ inch above the left breast pocket and parallel to the floor. To prevent covering the ribbons by the coat lapel, align them so that their border aligns with the left side of the pocket. The upper rows may also contain two ribbons each. Align these two rows with the left border of the lower rows to prevent covering them by the coat lapels also. Arrange ribbons on the right breast with the lower edge of the bottom row centered ¼ inch above the right breast pocket and parallel o the floor. On uniforms with no right breast pocket, arrange ribbons in the same relative position as if there were a pocket.

You may sew ribbons to uniforms or arrange them on bars to be attached to the uniform. Do not impregnate ribbons with preservatives that change their appearance or enclose them with a transparent cover of any sort.

Arrange ribbons in order of precedence in rows from top down and inboard to outboard within rows. If you possess three or more ribbons, wear the three senior ribbons; you may wear all if desired. If you only wear one row of ribbons, wear the three senior ribbons.

WEARING OF RIBBONS WITH MEDALS: When large medals are prescribed, center ribbons not having medals on the right breast. Place them in the same relative position as the holding bar of the lowest row of medals. If awarded more than one ribbon of this type, wear the senior ribbon.

Ribbons without medals include: Presidential Unit Citation, Navy Unit Commendation, Meritorious Unit Commendation, Navy "E," Combat Action Ribbon, foreign unit awards, and marksmanship ribbons. Arrange these ribbons in order of precedence in rows from top down and inboard to outboard within rows. If you possess three ore more ribbons, wear a minimum of three; you may wear all if desired. If you wear only one row of ribbons, wear the three senior ribbons.

When miniature medals are prescribed, do not wear ribbons for which no medals are provided.

LARGE MEDALS: You may wear large medals on your full dress uniforms. When you wear more than one medal, suspend them from a holding bar of metal or other material of sufficient strength to support their weight. Locate the holding bar of the lowest row of medals in the same position as was previously described for the lowest ribbon bar. The bar is 4 1/8 inches wide; each row of medals is 3 ¼ inches long from the top of the ribbons to the bottom of the medals. The bottom of the medals dress in a horizontal line. When you wear more than one row, no row should contain a lesser number of medals than the row above. Except for the uppermost row, all rows should contain the same number of medals - three medals side by side or up to five medals overlapping.

Arrange medals in order of precedence in rows from top down and inboard to outboard within rows. If you possess five or more medals, wear a minimum of five; you may wear all if desired. If you wear only one row of medals, the row should consist of the five senior medals.

MINIATURE MEDALS: You may wear miniature medals with all formal dress uniforms and dinner dress uniforms. On the male dinner dress jackets, position the holding bar of the lowest row of miniature medals 3 inches below the notch and centered on the lapel.

On the male's blue or white service coats, center the holding bar for the miniature medals immediately above the left breast pocket. On the women's blue or white coats, center the holding bar immediately above the left pocket flap. On the women's dinner dress jacket uniforms, place the holding bar in the same relative position that it would be placed on the male's dinner dress jackets. Each row of miniature medals is 2 1/4 inches long from the top of the ribbons to the bottom of the medals. The bottom of the medals dress in a horizontal line. Position upper rows of medals so that they cover the ribbons of the medals below. Arrange medals in order of precedence in rows from top down and inboard to outboard within rows. If you possess five or more medals, wear a minimum of five medals; you may wear all if desired. If you only wear one row of medals, the row should consist of the five senior medals.


The principal source of guidance regarding uniforms is always the U.S. Navy Uniform Regulations, NAVPERS 15665G. This is the "how to" book of uniforms. Regional coordinators and subregional coordinators provide other uniform guidance; however, their decisions are based on U.S. Navy Uniform Regulations.


Uniform Regs consists of 12 chapters and outlines the required uniforms, the optional uniforms, the items that may be worn on each uniform, and how these items should be worn on various uniforms. Chapter 1, "General Uniform Requirements," introduces you to the basics applicable to all naval uniforms. Chapter 2, "Grooming Standards," devotes the entire chapter to grooming standards. It includes pictures of what the hair should look like on a well-groomed male or female Navy service member. It also explains how to properly clean and maintain uniforms and uniform items, which enables you to present a correct and proper image. Chapters 3 through 8 deal exclusively with basic uniforms. Chapter 3 is titled "Officer, Men"; chapter 4 is "Officer, Women"; chapter 5 is "CPO, Men"; and so on to chapter 8, which is titled "E-1 to E-6, Female." Chapter 9, "Rank and Rate Insignia," explains the correct wearing of, and describes, officer and enlisted insignias. Chapter 10 explains the precedence of wearing awards and lists the different awards and attachments to each award. You will also find a detailed description of the authorized breast insignia and how each insignia should be worn, including a section on name tags. Chapter 11, "Special Uniforms Situations," answers specific questions about when you may wear a particular type of uniform; for example, special ceremonial uniforms, weddings, Reserve personnel. Chapter 12, "Civilian Clothing," gives you guidelines for wearing civilian clothing both on and off duty.


Regional coordinators are usually the commanders of major naval regions, for example COMNAVBASE, Charleston, S.C.; COMNAVBASE, Norfolk, Va.; or CNET, Pensacola, Fla. These regional coordinators issue and control uniform policy within their regions. The regional coordinators usually determine the summer and winter uniform period.


The senior officer present enforces the uniform directives prescribed by the regional coordinator and for uniform policy afloat. This includes uniforms worn by liberty parties and commands operating ashore.


As a worldwide representative of the U.S. Navy, you should present the appearance of a professional sailor. This not only pertains to your personal actions, but how others perceive you while you are in their country. You are the direct representative of the Navy and the United States.

The following information will help you to present a proper appearance to the community, the Navy, and the people of the ports you may visit.


You should keep your hair neat, clean, and well groomed. The hair should be tapered around your ears and neck, from a lower hairline upward to a length of at least 3/4 inch. It should be tapered outward to a length of not greater than 3/4 inch. This taper should blend into the natural cut of the hairstyle. Your hair should not be more than 4 inches long. It should not touch your ears or collar or extend below the eyebrows when your headgear is removed. Your hair should not interfere with the proper wearing of military headgear. The bulk of your hair, which is defined as the distance the hair protrudes above the scalp, should not exceed 2 inches. If you use hair coloring, it should look natural and compliment you. Faddish or outrageous multicolor hair is not authorized for male or female personnel.

The Navy recognizes the unique quality and texture of curled, kinked, waved, and straight hair. In some case the 3/4-inch taper at the back of the neck may be difficult to attain. In these cases your hair should present a graduated appearance; therefore, the taper may combine with a line at the back of the neck. You may wear varying hairstyles, including an Afro, if the styles conform to grooming standards. All hairstyles should conform to standard maximum length and bulk and be tapered at the neck and sides. You may not wear braided or plaited hair either while in uniform or while in a duty status. You should neatly trim and tailor your sideburns to the haircut style. Sideburns should not extend below the earlobe. You should tailor sideburns to an even width, not flared. Mutton chops, ship's captain, or similar grooming styles are not authorized.

Your face should be clean-shaven, however; you may wear a mustache. If you wear a mustache, it should be neatly and closely trimmed. No portion of your mustache may extend below the lip line of the upper lip or go beyond a horizontal line extending across the corners of the mouth. Your mustache may only extend ¼ inch past an imaginary line drawn upward vertically from the corner of the mouth. The length of your mustache should not exceed ½ inch. Handlebar mustaches, goatees, and other such eccentricities are not allowed. For guidelines on hair and mustache standards, refer to figure 11-16 [not included].

You may temporarily wear a beard for health reasons if a shaving waiver is authorized by the commanding officer. Authorizations are based on advice from a medical officer. Treatment is monitored to provide control of the waiver program and prevent its abuse. An authorized beard should not exceed ¼ inch in length. The following personnel are not authorized facial hair, including mustaches:

Brig prisoners

Personnel in a disciplinary status (for example, serving restriction, extra duties, or hard labor without confinement as a result of a court-martial or NJP)

Personnel assigned to a transit personnel unit awaiting separation for a court martial sentence or when in the best interest of the service

Personnel awaiting a recommendation or waiver of an administrative board for misconduct (for example, a pattern of misconduct, failure to pay debts, failure to support dependents, or the commission of serious offenses)

Active-duty personnel may wear hairpieces or wigs for cosmetic reasons. You may wear a wig to cover natural baldness or a physical disfiguration. A hairpiece or wig should be of good quality and fit properly. The hairpiece should present a natural appearance and conform to grooming standards outlined earlier in this section. Wearing a hairpiece or wig should not interfere with the proper performance of duties or present a safety or foreign object damage (FOD) hazard.

You may wear jewelry if it does not present a safety or an FOD hazard. Male service members are authorized to wear one ring on each hand, in addition to a wedding ring. You may wear a watch or bracelet on either wrist. If you wear a necklace or choker while in uniform, it should not be visible. Men may not wear earrings or ankle bracelets. Additionally, you may not wear articles attached to or through the ear or nose.


Your hair should be kept clean, neatly shaped, and arranged in an attractive, feminine, and professional style. When you are in uniform, the hair on the back of your neck may touch your collar but should never fall below the bottom edge of it. Your hair should not show under the front brim of your combination, garrison, or command ball cap. Long hair should be inconspicuously pinned or fastened to your head in an attractive style. The use of conspicuous rubber bands, combs, and pins is not allowed. You may wear your hair in a natural bouffant, or a similar style, including an Afro. You may wear two braids if they are neatly pinned up. You may not wear exaggerated and faddish styles or styles that do not allow the proper wearing of military headgear. If you color your hair, it should appear natural and complimentary. Hair color should never be faddish or an outrageous multicolor. Ensure the ends of pinned up hair do not dangle. If you work in areas such as hospitals and galleys, you may be required to wear visible hair nets. As stated earlier in the grooming standards for men, you may wear hairpieces or wigs provided they are of good quality and fit, present a natural appearance, and conform to all previously stated grooming standards. The use of hairpieces or wigs and hair ornaments to secure your hair should not present a safety or an FOD hazard. Their use also should not interfere with the proper performance of your military duties. Figure 11-17 [not included] shows an example of grooming standards for women.

The cosmetics that you use should blend with your natural skin tone to enhance natural features. You should try to avoid an artificial appearance. You should wear a conservative lipstick color that compliments your naval uniform. False eyelashes are considered inappropriate and should not be worn when you are in uniform. Your fingernails should not exceed ¼ inch in length. Nail polish should compliment your natural skin tone.

You may wear jewelry, including earrings, provided it does not present a safety or an FOD hazard. However, the earrings are 6mm in diameter (approximately ¼-inch), of a plain ball design, with a brushed matte finish. You may wear either screw-on or post-type earrings. When you wear dinner or formal dress uniforms, you may wear small pearl earrings. You may wear only one earring per ear. Nose rings are never allowed. While in uniform, you may wear one watch and one bracelet but you may not wear ankle bracelets. If you wear a necklace, it should not be visible. You may wear one ring per hand in addition to wedding and engagement rings.


To obtain the maximum service from your uniforms, you should maintain and care for them properly. Even new, properly fitted uniforms will not continue to look their best or keep their shape unless you properly care for them. Carrying large or heavy items in your pockets quickly destroys the shape of your uniform. When not wearing your uniform, you should store it on a hanger. Clean and store unused uniforms in plastic, airtight bags. For maximum preservation, place a small packet of desiccant (drying agent) inside the plastic bag with the uniform.

You may find that the plating on your buttons wears off. When this happens the copper base becomes exposed to moist air and a green copper carbonate may develop. This is especially true if the salt content of the air is high. To remove this green carbonate, gently rub the buttons with an acetic acid or a solution containing acetic acid, such as vinegar or worcestershire sauce. Commercial products are also available for this purpose. After rubbing with acetic acid solution, thoroughly wash the buttons with clean water. To keep your embroidered insignia clean and bright, occasionally scrub it with a nail brush and a diluted solution of ammonia. You should do this as soon as tarnish or corrosion appears, as once it has gained a foothold, the device may not be restorable.

Gold bullion lace tarnishes rapidly and may deteriorate when placed in contact with, or hung near, any substance containing sulphur. Some items that may contain sulphur are rubber and ordinary manila or kraft paper. Gold bullion should be cleaned by an experienced tailor. If you clean it yourself, you can use commercial nontoxic preparations and liquid cleaners. For best results when using these commercial preparations or cleaners, follow the manufacturer's instructions on the label.

Clean the gold-filled and sterling silver rhodium finished parts of the metal insignia by washing with soap and water.


In this chapter you learned a brief history of the CPO rate and uniform. U.S. Navy Uniform Regulations is the principal governing publication regarding uniforms and uniform accessories. You should maintain a smart and militarily correct uniform as the Navy's representative to the civilian community. You should strive to become a positive example to the lower rated personnel who work for you. The Navy requires you to follow grooming standards prescribed. You should maintain, and instill in your subordinates, the importance of presenting a neat, clean, military appearance.

The information contained in this chapter is only a guide to the uniform requirements and grooming standards. Specific guidelines are listed in Uniform Regs and the U.S. Navy and Marine Corps Awards Manual.

Source: Shaffer, Larry C. "CPO Uniform Standards" in Military Requirements for Chief Petty Officer. Pensacola, FL: Naval Education and Training Command, 1988.


Changes to Navy Uniform Regulations

NAVADMIN 021/03 announces significant revisions to the Navy personal appearance policy. These changes, approved by CNO, are effective immediately and will be reflected in the next change to Uniform Regulations. Navy grooming and personal appearance policy is intended to ensure that naval personnel set and maintain the highest standards of professional appearance in uniform. Due to the increasing popularity of body art and ornamentation, Navy policy is being revised to provide clearly defined guidance. The revisions include:

a. Establishment of a tattoo policy for Navy personnel,
b. Clarification of personal appearance policy with regard to intentional mutilation of body parts, and
c. Clarification of personal appearance policy with regard to dental ornamentation.

To view/print this NAVADMIN in its entirety, go to This NAVADMIN should be filed in the U.S. Navy Uniform Regulations, NAVPERS 15665, until revisions are incorporated into the Apr 03 quarterly BUPERS Directive CD-ROM change. (2/3)

Administrative Message
R 242055Z JAN 03 ZYB MIN PSN 370153J19

FM CNO Washington DC//DNS//


Subject: Navy Uniforms



1. The Chief of Naval Operations approved significant revisions to the Navy personal appearance policy. These changes are effective immediately and will be reflected in the next change to uniform regulations. The revisions include:

A. Establishment of a tattoo policy for Navy personnel.
B. Clarification of personal appearance policy with regard to intentional mutilation of body parts.
C. Clarification of personal appearance policy with regard to dental ornamentation.

2. Navy grooming and personal appearance policy is intended to ensure that Navy personnel set and maintain the highest standards of professional appearance in uniform. Due to the increasing popularity of body art and ornamentation, Navy policy is being revised to provide clearly defined guidance.

3. For clarification purposes, revisions and additions to Navy Uniform Regulations, Article 2201 are quoted below in their entirety. (R) indicates revision. (A) indicates addition. "(R) 2201. Personal Appearance. Because it is impossible to provide examples of every appropriate or unacceptable hairstyle or of 'conservative' or 'eccentric' grooming and personal appearance, the good judgement of leaders at all levels is key to enforcement of Navy grooming policy. Therefore, hair/grooming/personal appearance while in uniform shall present a neat, professional appearance. (A) 7. Tattoos/Body Art/Brands. No tattoos/body art/brands on the head, face, neck, or scalp. Tattoos/body art/brands elsewhere on the body that are prejudicial to good order, discipline and morale or are of a nature to bring discredit upon the Navy are prohibited. For example, tattoos/body art/brands that are excessive, obscene, sexually explicit or advocate or symbolize sex, gender, racial, religious, ethnic or national origin discrimination are prohibited. In addition, tattoos/body art/brands that advocate or symbolize gang affiliation, supremacist or extremist groups, or drug use are prohibited. Tattoos/body art/brands will not be visible through uniform clothing. Waivers may be requested for prior service and existing tattoos from the Chief of Naval Operations (NO9BU).
"(A) 8. Mutilation. Intentional body mutilation, piercing (see 2201.6C), branding/intentional scarring that are excessive or eccentric are prohibited. Some examples are:
(1). A split or forked tongue;
(2). Foreign objects inserted under the skin to create a design or pattern;
(3). Enlarged or stretched out holes in the ears (other than a normal piercing).
(4). Intentional scarring that appears on the neck, face, or scalp. Waivers may be requested for prior service and existing body mutilation, piercing, branding/intentional scarring from the Chief of Naval Operations (N09BU).
(A) 9. Dental Ornamentation. The use of gold, platinum or other veneers or caps for purposes of ornamentation are prohibited. Teeth, whether natural, capped or veneer, will not be ornamented with designs, jewels, initials, etc. Waivers may be requested for prior service and existing dental ornamentation from the Chief of Naval Operations (N09BU)."

4. The above policy guidance will also be included in the Civilian Clothing Policy, Article 7101.

5. File this NAVADMIN with REF A until revisions are incorporated into the Apr 03 Quarterly BUPERS Directive CD-ROM change.

6. Released by VADM P.A. Tracey, Director, Navy Staff.//


Source: United States. Chief of Naval Operations. "Navy Uniforms." NAVADMIN Message 021/03. 24 January 2003.

Published: Thu Jan 12 09:13:24 EST 2017