As we’ve gone over in the past, uniforms can really go a long way towards making or breaking the look of a nation’s military. They have to embody the nation’s central values, look imposing to enemies and reassuring to friends, and be wearable, day-to-day, during the rigorous tasks required of a member of the military. No small order!
There are remarkably effective examples of uniforms throughout history, from the regal authority of the modern British uniform, to the “people’s” uniformity of the old Soviet duty uniforms, to the ultra Imperialism perfectly embodied by the German Imperial uniforms of the Victorian Era, to the charming old-fashioned frontierism of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police uniform.
Modern uniforms tend to come in three varieties. There’s the “Combat Uniform,” which is the camouflage patterned fatigues you’re used to seeing in the movies, mostly on enlisted infantry, though in reality, everyone wears them. They’re used for day-to-day duty and combat, and are usually in a camouflage pattern, which are specifically designed for specific combat roles by the military in question. They’re roughly equivalent to business casual in an office.
The second type are the Service or Service Dress Uniforms, the uniforms people mentally associate with officers, but that are actually worn by everyone when appropriate. They are roughly equivalent to a standard business suit, and are worn for semi-formal functions, like serving on a court-martial, when reporting for duty, or when making official visits.
And finally, the third kind of uniforms are the Mess Dress or Dress Uniforms. Equivalent to a tuxedo, these are worn at formal functions, and are extremely ornate, covered with every medal, ribbon, rank, and insignia the wearer has earned.
So, how is the United States doing right now with its uniforms? That’s a difficult question to answer, since the U.S. has gone through so many uniform variations over the years that some of the older variants look like they’re from another country, maybe another planet! What’s more, the Uniform Code can be so complex, one is forced to ask, “which uniform?” far too often in any total examination. Instead, take a look at this gallery of the current uniforms of the five branches of the United States Armed Forces, and judge for yourself. Our personal favorites are the Marine Officer Dress and Navy Dress Whites. It’s next to impossible to not look impressive in those!