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Commentary | Dec. 14, 2009

Five little-known uniform facts

By Airman 1st Class Jason J. Brown 1st Fighter Wing Public Affairs

As Airmen, we have all been taught, trained and tested on how to wear our uniforms, whether it's our dress blues or our utility uniforms. Military personnel rely on the appearance of their uniforms to present a professional image, while showcasing the proud history and legacy of their branch.

Most Airmen know what basic uniform items are and are not authorized, but there a few uniform facts that most times go overlooked or unnoticed. Here are five of these little-known facts:

1. Service cap authorized for wear
Often called the "bus driver" hat (male version) or the "bucket hat" (female version), the service cap is authorized for wear with blues uniform combinations. Older Airmen recall the service cap as a once required item that was later discontinued, while newer Airmen may only know the cap from historic photos.

However, the peaked cap is authorized for wear and available at military clothing sales stores. The service cap is actually a mandatory item for Majors and above. Also, female Airmen may wear the male service cap. Keep in mind that the flight cap is the mandatory headgear for formations, as the service cap is merely optional.

2. Boots may be worn with blues
Airmen may wear black leather combat and dress boots in place of low quarters with blues uniforms. Trousers will not be bloused or tucked into boots, with the exception of Security Forces troops when authorized. High-gloss and patent finishes on boots are optional.

3. Watch caps may be worn with service dress
Many Airmen wear knit watch caps with PT gear to keep their head warm, but a black or dark blue watch cap may also be worn with the service dress uniform upon authorization of the installation commander. The cap may only be worn with the service dress uniform or blues uniform with appropriate outerwear, including the all-weather raincoat or double-breasted top coat.

4. Uniform outerwear may be worn with civilian attire
Outerwear items, such as the lightweight jacket, all-weather coat and top coat, may be worn with civilian attire if grade insignia is removed. Note that if the lightweight jacket has the new Air Force insignia or grade insignia embroidered on the chest, it is not authorized for wear with civilian clothing.

5. Wear of occupational badges is optional
Airmen may choose whether or not to wear their occupational badges on uniforms, with the exception of aeronautical and chaplain badges, which are mandatory.

Remember, local commanders retain the right to implement specific uniform wear policies when deemed necessary, so consult your leadership if you are unsure of any changes. To find the aforementioned facts plus all other uniform guidelines, consult AFI 36-2903 or visit the uniform information page on Air Force Portal (login required).