The military has changed a lot since the glory days of World War I and II movies, and will continue to evolve. Still, a line of tradition continues with every evolution, and you can find that proud tradition in every version of military uniforms...just that some are less traditional than others. In the US Navy, a few uniforms are known from everyday use and their connections to old style uniforms, and an overview of what the Navy's gearing style has to offer can help you understand the purpose behind those changes.
Enlisted Dress Whites And Blues
The traditional "cracker jack" uniform worn by US Navy sailors is known as the dress whites and dress blues. This iconic uniform is a jumper with a mid-length, cape-like collar and a pair of wide-legged pants similar to the bell bottom style.
The white uniform is worn in the spring and summer, while the blue (visually black to many) is worn in the fall and winter to coincide with weather patterns. Common sense at the chain of command dictates which uniform to wear in areas with seasonal irregularities, usually matching hot weather with dress whites and cold weather with dress blues.
Commissioned Service/Dress Uniforms And Service Khakis
Commissioned officers (O-level ranking) and senior enlisted officers (E-7 and and about, and CWO-level Warrant Officers) wear similar dress uniforms that follow a military-style dinner suit design.
The style is known for the double button service display, but has notable differences in the color options. Dress whites include shoulder boards denoting rank for officers, while the dress blues have no shoulder boards.
Service uniforms are also known as working uniforms, and are meant for everyday activities onboard ships and in certain on-base locations. These uniforms are khaki in color for commissioned officers, warrant officers, and senior enlisted.
Enlisted Utility Uniform And Coveralls
Onboard ships and in many workstations not tied to regular combat operations, enlisted sailors E-6 and below wear a light blue top and dark blue pants. The top is a button-up, collared shirt with ranking insignia on the collar and left shoulder for E-4 and above (the beginning of the Petty Office ranking system, following Seaman at E-3).
Utility uniforms are for everyday use as opposed to service and dress whites, which are more for ceremonial or high-visibility duty around members of the public or government officials.
All-Service Coverall Uniforms
Following utility uniforms comes the coveralls. These are, hands down, the most comfortable of the US Navy's uniforms, and are designed for dirty jobs and drills. Coveralls are part of every rank's seabag and are fitted with collar and left arm ranking insignia.
Coveralls are a one piece uniform with a zipper that goes from just below the waist on most sailors to the upper chest. As a sort of "mechanic's special" uniform that can resist tearing and protect against many hazardous agents, these uniforms are also valuable outside of the military as both a piece of nostalgia and useful dirty work clothing item.
To figure out which uniform is best for a certain style or fitting a certain purpose, contact a military gear professional, like Bargain Center.