U.S. Army blue dress uniform 1902-17

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U.S. Army blue dress uniform 1902-17

Post  buistR on Thu 08 Jul 2010, 4:28 pm

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From 1902-17 the U.S. Army wore a blue dress uniform that was (i) smart, (ii) distinctive, (iii) modern, and (iv) best of all from a quarter-master's viewpoint relatively inexpensive. It was suspended on the entry of the U.S. into WWI, reintroduced in a half-hearted way in 1928 as an optional off duty uniform to be purchased at the cost of the wearer; and finally replaced in 1937 by the forerunner of the modern Army's dress blues (with open collar and tie). The Army band at West Point wore a slightly modified version until about the 1990s when the addition of cadet shakos and other trimmings effectively marked the end of a handsome but traditional uniform.

One of its most striking features was the proliferation of branch colors in the form of piping, cap bands, chevrons, breast cords, trouser stripes and collars (latter for officers only). These included red for Artillery, yellow for Cavalry, light-blue for Infantry, red and white for Engineers, black and red for Ordnance, maroon and white for Hospital Corps, orange and white for Signal Corps. While the U.S. Army of the time had little in the way of regimental dress distinctions (other than badge numbers) there was no danger of confusing a "red-legged" artilleryman from a cavalry trooper faced in yellow, when both were in parade dress.

The elaborate mohair breast cord was another distinctive feature. Strung around the neck, under the arm and across the chest it must have been difficult to put on quickly and keep in correct alignment. It appears to have been mainly a parade feature and not required for more casual off-duty wear.

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A number of photos for this uniform at my web site.

Post  mconrad on Fri 09 Jul 2010, 1:58 am

I collect photos of soldiers in the 1902-1917 full dress, as can be seen at MarksWebSite .

buistR's third picture is from my site, being an original photo I own.

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Re: U.S. Army blue dress uniform 1902-17

Post  BlueTrain on Wed 12 Jun 2013, 3:07 am

While the US Marines love their blues, soldiers today would not appreciate the standing ("military") collar. In fact, I recall the statement of one individual who said he joined the navy just so he wouldn't have to wear a necktie!

Besides, soldiers don't want to be mistaken for marines, either--and vice-versa.

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Re: U.S. Army blue dress uniform 1902-17

Post  buistR on Mon 17 Jun 2013, 11:52 am

Is the new U.S. Army service dress uniform (traditional dark blue tunic and light blue trousers but in modern styles) fully in evidence yet? My understanding is that it was decided on in 2007 but that issuing it as a replacement for the previous green/grey SD has been an extended process.

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Re: U.S. Army blue dress uniform 1902-17

Post  BlueTrain on Mon 17 Jun 2013, 11:36 pm

As far as I can tell, it seems to be in use these days, judging from photographs, together with the absense of any photos showing the old Army Green uniform.

The style of the uniform, by the way, dates back to the first open lapel uniform as worn by officers in the 1930s and is exactly like the old tropical worsted tan uniform that was worn from around 1940 up until around 1970. The only difference, aside from the material, is the lack of epaulettes for the officer pattern uniform, the old style straps being worn instead. The enlisted pattern uniform has epaulettes. There are other detail differences. One thing I don't know, however, is whether formation patches (officially called "shoulder sleeve insignia") are worn on the blue uniform or not.

The open lapel jacket of the Army Blue uniform as introduced in the 1930s had different pocket details. I don't know when the current pattern was introduced. However, the dress jacket or coat as illustrated above was the enlisted man's version. The officers had a longer version, like a frock coat. The officers also had an undress jacket that seemed to be widely used around the world at the time that was a short coat with a standing collar and mohair trim around the front and the lower hem. An identical coat in cadet gray is still worn at the US Military Academy and at many private military academies.

The dress cord in branch colors as shown in the illustrations was the only difference between "dress" and "full dress" for enlisted men.

In British service, there was a period when officers could choose between a standing collar blue undress uniform and an open lapel collar uniform (type B, as it was called). I suppose the open collar never caught on but that is precisely the style worn by the Royal Marine officers to this day.

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Best looking US Army uniform ever

Post  Dragon15 on Fri 21 Nov 2014, 10:54 am

Yes, the Army wears the blue uniform today, called the Army Service Uniform. Not terribly practical, as officers wear the shoulder boards which easily get caught on all manner of things. As soldiers wear many badges and ribbons, the uniform has breast pockets which are used to align all that fruit salad. The high collar looks great and most soldiers and officers would prefer looking more professional and soldierly. The narrow brim cap also looks better than the radar dish we wear today, or the black beret, ugh.

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