History of USAF Uniforms

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When the Air Force became its own branch of the DoD, it quickly realized it needed its own look. They had to have their own USAF uniform! Gone were the days of rocking hand-me-downs from the Army Air Corps. The problem? No one really knew what an Airman should look like. So, they first debuted a new enlisted rank insignia one year after forming as a branch. Airmen wore this uniform with fresh black leather accessories – a fashion step up from the russet brown leather they wore before. Then, a few years later, the Air Force came out with a blue dress uniform. The original color was Uxbridge blue, after the former Bachman-Uxbridge Worsted Company. This suit looked like an Army service dress uniform.

Then in 1966, the USAF uniform changed again. This time, they added a blue long sleeve winter shirt with epaulets. Epaulets were unadorned. Officers wore rank insignias on their collars. Enlisted Airmen sewed their insignia to their sleeves. In 1993 the Chief of Staff of the Air Force introduced a new three-button service coat. The coat had no epaulets and officer’s braid on lower sleeves, denoting rank. It was a disaster. Senior officers complained that it looked identical to those of commercial airline pilots … because it did. So, the Air Force corrected the issue. These days, the coat is still part of the official uniform. There’s been some talk of new dress uniforms, but so far, the Air Force’s leaders still need to settle on a new look.