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Navy Chevron Dress

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The scope of wartime procurement permitted many small deviations from a standard appearance and a government fighting for its survival was not about to argue details. When peace finally came the Navy began to sort out its experiences and apply them to uniform development. The rapid growth of personnel showed that a system for rank identification was needed among all enlisteds. White piping on the collar was standardized to distinguish petty officers three rows and landsmen and boys one row.

Corresponding rows were displayed on the cuffs. White stars were standardized on the collar. The collar was extended to 9 inches to accommodate these additions and remained that size until Now that the business of war was over and the Navy shrunk in size, attention was directed to reducing the annoying proliferation of garment shapes and styles that had run rampant during the Civil War years.

The years of blockades in warm climates also caused concern over clothing comfort. The Regulations allowed a white sennet straw hat in addition to the white cover which was tied to the blue flat hat. It was found that the addition of a white cover did not provide coolness but rather added to the discomfort of the woolen hat in warm weather.

This was the beginning of a distinct white hat which would evolve through canvas and eventually the white cotton hat of recent times. Commanding officers were required to insure that all lettering was the same size on all hats. Standardization was also carried through in size dimensions of the white hat and the mandate that all blue flat hats be uniform in shape and color. New demands were placed upon the service not only to train a distinct group of men to handle these new devices, but also to provide suitable clothing for this new type of dirty work which could be easily washed on board ships.

In , two new ratings were authorized, the machinist and seaman gunner. In order to protect clothing from the dirty, sooty spaces, an overall and white jumper was authorized as a work uniform. White was chosen as dyeing of fabrics for mass production was often crude and not very durable.

Therefore a fabric which could be laundered easily without running was utilized. Appearance was restricted to work spaces where exposure was limited and considered secondary to utility. Also white was considered the best reflector for heat in engine room spaces at that time.

US inability to keep abreast of foreign navies prompted a modernization program in which the Navy desperately tried to close the gap with up-to-date ships. As the Navy further expanded, the importance of specialized leading petty officers became more pronounced and, as their skills increased, they became more identified with the management communities. A sailor was becoming more than just a body to handle lines or scramble around rigging.

He was entering an age where a good level of education was needed to function in an increasingly complex Navy. Thus, as he was becoming a technician in both mechanical and logistical areas, a revision of uniform regulations in further modified the dress of principal petty officers to emulate that of commissioned officers.

Senior petty officers of various ratings, now greatly increased from previous directives, were authorized to wear the sack coat with rating insignia on both sleeves. The difficulties of adding piping by hand to collars by sailors onboard ships was realized, and in the white tape on the collar was standardized to three rows for all enlisted wearing the jumper, with rank to be determined by the petty officer insignia and cuff stripes.

South American internal strife had shown that these small republics possessed better navies than the United States. The United States had already acquired some territorial interests in the Pacific.

Most important of all, the strong financial condition of the country made payment for a naval building program painless. Emphasis was placed on steam powered vessels with modern armament and shore establishments were consolidated and placed under the Bureau of Provisions and Clothing eventually NAVSUP. This growth of ships and personnel in modern vessels required distinctions among personnel not previously necessary. In the first separation occurred among petty officers into principal, first, second, and third class.

The Regulations of provided a set of rating badges for each group. First class had three red downward pointing chevrons, in the manner of the Royal Navy, topped by an eagle with specialty mark imposed on a red lozenge between the chevrons and eagle. Second class had the same three chevrons as the first class but without the lozenge, and third class had two chevrons and no lozenge.

Also in , principal petty officers were directed to wear double breasted blue coats and a white sack coat in summer. Visored hats were worn. Other petty officers continued to wear the jumper and bell bottoms. The peacoat as we knew it came into use about the time for foul weather wear. It was warm and its shortness made it more practical for movement than a greatcoat. The canvas hat was easier to wear, could be washed and thus presented a neater appearance.

By being built of wedges it was easy and cheap to construct, and its distinctive shape differentiated the American sailor from that period on. The increased responsibilities and diversity of specialized skills made it impossible for officers to handle all the supervisory and management tasks necessary in a modern warship.

Nor were there enough warrants to handle the job. Therefore a finer and more permanent distinction among petty officers would have to be made in creating a class of supervisory personnel among enlisteds. This differentiation between principal and regular petty officers of the first class rate came in the regulations of when the rank of chief petty officer was established.

This new rate utilized the former principal petty officer badge with three red chevrons joined by an arch at the top and spread eagle above. The other devices were reorganized corresponding exactly to present day classifications. With the new modern Navy, length of service was considered a source of pride among sailors and service stripes were introduced during this year, being similar to the Army in concept but distinctly nautical in appearance.

They have remained basically unchanged to this day. The Regulations of also printed the first specifications for uniforms by size. Previous to this, specifications were maintained either by the Bureau of Provisions and Clothing for manufacturers or Paymasters onboard ships for sailors who wished to make their own clothes, and there are no records available of these previous dimensions.

However, it is interesting to note that the uniform specifications, except for the length of the jumper, did not drastically change from through Garments were originally loose fitting since the cloth shrunk greatly when washed. Since principal petty officers and then chief petty officers wore a bronze disk on their caps comprised of a spread eagle perched on a horizontal anchor. Since officers wore the same coats and utilized black braid rather than gold there was much confusion.

Therefore, a need arose to provide a distinctive cap device for chief petty officers which would not utilize the eagle which was considered the symbol of officer rank. If any single event could be selected to mark the emergence of the United States as a major power, perhaps no better choice could be made than the Spanish American War of This brief, one-sided conflict involved the United States in the complex problem of the Far East and served notice to Europe that henceforth American military power would have to be considered.

For the Americans themselves it marked a turning point toward greater participation in world affairs and a more adventurous foreign policy. The operational experience of the Navy in this first major war since brought about some refinements and additions to enlisted clothing.

This necessitated increasing the number of buttons to eleven. A further increase in depth of the flap sides would add two buttons for a total of thirteen.

Although myth prevails that the number of buttons represented the original colonies, thirteen buttons happened to be the final number that provided adequate closure on the enlarged fall. The brim in particular was found to droop and cause an unsightly appearance. The resultant corrective actions cause more stitching to be placed in the brim which caused the sides to be stiffer and stand upright.

This practice of reinforced stitching continued to evolve the hat into the shape known until the hat was discontinued in As the fleet increased its steaming time, a more suitable work garment was needed. Although white had been worn since , sailing in tropical waters precluded the luxury of frequent laundering as a waste of precious water.

Thus, the regulations of authorized the first use of denim jumpers and trousers to be utilized as a working uniform in areas which would normally soil blue or white uniforms. The regulations permitted the dungaree outfit to be used by both officers and enlisted men as a complete outfit, replete with the hat of the day.

In general its use was limited to submarine, engine room, gun turret, and machinery space personnel. An undress white uniform had existed since However, it was not until that an undress blue uniform appeared since piping was added to the blue uniform after the Civil War. The post-Spanish American War period was most favorable to naval appropriations under the influence of President Roosevelt. By the time Wilson assumed office, unrest in Europe dispelled any efforts to reduce military might to any large degree.

When Europe exploded into War in its importance was not lost on the United States. Although Americans wanted to remain free of foreign entanglements, some preparations were considered prudent. The mobilization of for the impending war brought about a new element into enlisted uniforms-women.

Females were organized into reserve groups and a uniform which paralleled civilian fashion was designed. It is interesting to note that while the male enlisted uniform was distinctly nautical and evolved in relation to maritime needs, female enlisted clothing more closely followed civilian trends.

Black shoes and stockings were worn with summer whites. Rating badges were the same as male yeomen. Some pictures of the period show the neckerchief being utilized to provide some identity with the men. Upon cessation of hostilities and its resultant scaling down of military activities, all women except for nurses, were released from active duty.

Details of this uniform are the same as for women officers and are defined in the subsequent officer section. The male enlisted uniform came through World War I unchanged.

It may be surmised that since there was no modification or change, that it was felt the sailor had all he needed to function. This trend continued through the twenties and thirties. The millions of citizen sailors wore the same uniform popularized in the twenties and thirties.

The expansion of the Navy into amphibious warfare required a Marine type working uniform for boat crews and Seabees.

Specialized clothing was required for carrier personnel. But for the majority the bell bottom and jumper remained unchanged. In October of the blue collar and cuffs were deleted from the dress whites as there were continuing problems with the blue dye running. This change left the sailor with dress and undress blues and undress whites which could fill the functions of dress as well.

Security appears to be a factor for its demise and it was eventually replaced by the shoulder unit identification mark. This practice continued until July , when it was discontinued as damaging to the suit material and construction.

An attempt in to clothe sailors in a suit and tie met with fleet rejection. In large part due to the rapid acceleration of personnel through the wartime rate structure, it became obvious that rating badges and added piping to denote rank were repetitious. Therefore, in , cuff piping was standardized at three rows for all hands.

With the largest standing Navy in the world, there was confusion due to the non-uniform appearance of personnel in different ratings. The tremendous expansion of wartime ratings made determination of which arm the rating belonged a full time nightmare.

It was decided that henceforth all enlisted would wear their badges on the left arm. The uniform continued through the fifties without change and the Korean conflict appears to have had no effect on enlisted garment development. In the flat hat ceased issue. It had been supplanted by the more popular white hat and since there appeared no need for two hats it was abolished. In the most sweeping change in the history of enlisted dress occurred. Based on a survey conducted in it appeared that there was some fleet desire, principally among the more senior petty officers, for a different, more distinguished garb.

The intention was to create a single uniform appearance and present enlisted men in a uniform which was thought to reflect the increasing complexity of the modern Navy. The action to utilize a suit style for all enlisted has been one of the most controversial changes to effect the Navy in its uniform history.

From a practical standpoint, the adoption of a different uniform for dress wear was not the result of a requirement. With the absence of fully rigged sailing ships and the advent of more comfortable work uniforms, what a sailor wears for dress occasions is now a matter of style. The most obvious impasse to acceptance of the suit and tie outfit to the enlisted and general public is that it breaks with tradition.

While the components of the jumper style uniform serve no nautical purpose today and are not related to anything worn in the civilian world, it has served to identify sailors all over the globe for too long a period of time.

Most navies of the world have utilized a similar outfit and most still retain it for non-rated personnel. Throughout the course of uniform history there has continued a strong resistance to changing traditional garments.

Sailors prefer to be distinctively dressed. The break with tradition, when coupled with unforeseen inconveniences of the suit and tie uniform, were unacceptable. Therefore, in , the Navy again began to issue the jumper style uniform as a dress uniform to recruits. From its inception, the United States Navy utilized as officers men who were generally a product of a higher social order. By becoming a naval officer, a man merely transferred the condition and aspects of his background into a different profession.

He would not foresake his code of conduct, educational level, mannerisms, or least of all his dress by adopting a new means of livelihood. Thus the earliest officer uniforms identified the wearer as a gentleman of the maritime profession. His clothes closely paralleled the cut of civilian garments with color and accoutrements representing his nautical affiliation. The initial attempt at a uniform for naval personnel was addressed by the Continental Congress in and exclusively dealt with the officer community.

The dress prescribed was extremely somber and reflected the attitude of the Congress to eliminate the ornate trappings evidenced in the Royal Navy and move towards a democratic society. The naval officers quickly rebelled and demanded a more ornate uniform with dark blue coat and tricorner hat, colored facings, and cuffs with gold buttons and lace, a uniform which in fact was strikingly similar to that of the Royal Navy.

General guidance was provided for distinctive garments which reflected the high position and authority felt necessary for the naval officer. After the revolution had ended in , the services were disbanded and the ordeals of privation and strife caused a reluctance to keep any standing forces in the fiercely independent colonies. Also, those who had served as officers were mostly happy to depart and return to merchant activities.

Trade would be lucrative and few wanted to remain in the service where pay was infrequent and benefits nil. They had fought for a cause and it had been secured, there was no longer any reason for a professional military.

This naïve optimism began to deteriorate as mercantile interests were interfered with on the high seas. Disruption of trade and impressment of seamen by British, French, and North African powers caused a reassessment of the need for a protective military and in the Navy Department was reinstituted.

The Adams administration tried to create a professional force and the fledgling Navy adopted the earlier uniform regulations in In order to present a somewhat unified and coherent appearance, officers were directed to wear blue jackets with tails, a double row of gold buttons, white breeches, shoes and a cocked hat. Rank was displayed by gold epaulets, two for captain, one for lieutenant.

Conflicts with France and the Barbary Pirates added some prestige to the Navy and as interaction with foreign powers increased, the uniform became a bit more decorative to reflect these events. Throughout the uniform history, buttons and epaulets have been interchanged as means of rank identification, since epaulets were expensive and hard to maintain at sea. In line with civilian usage, trousers were authorized in replacing breeches, because officers were not scurrying in rigging and therefore appearance rather than utility was considered paramount.

Although early regulations prescribed only full dress uniforms it must be assumed that most officers modified these uniforms in some way to make them more durable and adaptable to shipboard life.

Gold lace was expensive, as were full dress coats, and few officers could afford to abuse them. The regulations of were the first attempt at specifying details of uniforms in an effort at standardization of color and style.

As the scope of naval operations increased and the Navy began to appear often in foreign ports the necessity for practical apparel and standardized appearances was becoming more apparent. The cocked hat may have been fashionable in Napoleonic times, but it was not a practical cover. In a visored undress blue cloth cap for all officers was authorized. The lace edging on the cocked hat was transferred as a band around the cover and a chin strap was provided. As the naval service was increasingly staffed with professional career personnel, the polychromatic accoutrements affected by certain officers were considered inappropriate.

The regulations of mandated that blue and white would be the only colors of clothing allowed. US 14 L Price: Condition Gently used Faded color, stains Yellowing and discoloration at the waist and underarms of slip. Strawberry Fields Responds within: Submit a return request within 4 days of delivery 2.

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