New dress and appearance updates will soon be released following feedback, testing from Airmen and reviews conducted as a part of the 2020 Air Force Uniform Board.
“We remain committed to maintaining an iterative approach with our dress and appearance standards,” said Lt. Gen. Brian Kelly, Air Force deputy chief of staff for manpower, personnel and services. “During this most recent review, we approved several updates fully aligned with our Air Force standards and culture that maintain our focus on warfighting while providing options to meet many of the needs of our Airmen.”
2020 Air Force Uniform Board initiatives
Uniform Board changes will be effective upon publication in Air Force Instruction 36-2903, Dress and Appearance of Air Force Personnel, which is expected to publish in early October 2021. Below are examples of a few changes to the updated AFI:
- Male bulk hair standards increase from 2 inches to 2.5 inches
- Cosmetic tattooing on the scalp is authorized for men
- The size of hair accessories increases from 1 inch to 2 inches for females
- Hosiery is optional for females with any combination of the dress uniform
- Transparent piercing spacers are authorized
- Wing commanders may authorize the local wear of approved OCP morale patches on Fridays or during special events
Furthermore, the board conducted a review of several policy items that previously mandated specific behavior based on restrictions. In some cases, the board recommended removing the restrictive language to entrust commanders and Airmen to understand and adopt proper behavior based on their situation and circumstances.
“We trust our Airmen, noncommissioned officers and commanders with incredible resources and significant responsibilities and we’ll need to do so even more as we prepare for future conflicts,” Kelly said. “We likewise trust they can figure out what it takes and means to maintain standards without specifying exact behavior in every situation.”
Examples of guidance removed in the future AFI release:
- When walking in uniform, members may not use a cell phone or drink water
- Members may not place hands in their pockets when walking or standing in uniform
Specific details about the initiatives listed above, as well as additional changes, will be available upon AFI publication. In total, more than 30 recommendations from the Air Force Uniform Board were approved for implementation to the field.
Additional Uniform Item Improvements
The following uniform item improvements were made considering feedback from the field and multiple uniform fit tests. These items will be released for issue and/or purchase as the design and development process is completed.
Men’s Blue Shirt and Women’s Blouse
The improved men’s blue shirt and women’s blouse will utilize a new stain-resistant, wrinkle-resistant and moisture-wicking fabric with a herringbone weave in the current Air Force blue shade.
The men’s shirt improvements include a tapered and lengthened shirt body with a re-engineered armhole and shoulder. The women’s tuck-in style blouse and semi-form-fitting blouse improvements include a lengthened shirt body, realigned buttons, a re-engineered armhole, and a redesign of the neckline and collar.
In addition, the updated maternity blouse will include a redesigned neckline and collar for improved fit and comfort. The back pleat of the previously designed blouse was replaced with darts for better shape and fit. It has realigned buttons and a lengthened shirt body for accommodation through all trimesters.
The improved men’s long-sleeve blue shirt is expected to be available in August 2021. The improved men’s short-sleeve blue shirt and women’s tuck-in style blouse (long and short-sleeve) are expected to be available at the end of October 2021. The improved maternity blouse is expected to be available October 2021 and the updated semi-form fitting blouse is expected to be available in January 2022.
Improved Hot Weather Combat Uniform
The improved hot weather combat uniform is a variant of the operational camouflage pattern uniform aimed at reducing layers of fabric in order to be lighter in weight, more breathable and quick-drying, providing safer flame protection that does not melt or drip. It was designed to improve performance, survivability, lethality and safety in extreme hot and wet-weather environments. The improved hot weather combat uniform is expected to be available to Airmen in October 2021.
Extreme Cold Weather Parka
Generation III Level 7 parkas, commonly referred to as extreme cold weather parkas, are expected to be available for personal purchase through AAFES online and in select AAFES stores this winter season. Previously, the parka was not available for personal purchase and was primarily distributed as organization clothing and equipment at northern tier or extreme cold weather base locations.
Men’s Blue Trousers and Women’s Blue Slacks
Men’s blue trouser improvements include an adjustment to the pocket design to enhance the fit of the trousers and reduce additional alterations.
The women's blue slacks improvement includes a redesigned and lower waistband, removal of the front darts to create a flat front, and a shortened rise to address fit concerns. Additionally, the pant legs will be straight cut as opposed to the previously tapered fit.
The updated trousers and slacks are expected to be available in May 2022.
Women’s Mess Dress Slacks
The new women’s mess dress slacks will provide Air Force women an option in addition to the current mess dress skirt and men’s mess dress trousers. The slacks will be a female-fit version of the male mess dress trousers with design adjustments required to fit female measurements. Slacks can be worn with the current mess dress jacket. Women’s mess dress slacks are expected to be available in August 2022.
Physical Training Gear
Modernized physical training gear will feature a revised fit and look with updated materials and fabric. The fabric includes soft, quick-drying, antimicrobial technology that helps with moisture and odor control. The jacket, pants, and men’s and women’s t-shirts will be available along with new running and all-purpose shorts. The physical training gear is expected to be available in October 2022 with a four-year transition period for mandatory wear.
Space Force Guardians will follow the updates above except where Space Force-specific guidance already exists. For example, in accordance with SPFGM2020-36-01, USSF personnel are not authorized to wear morale patches. The Space Force held its inaugural uniform board in March and is currently developing comprehensive service-specific grooming and uniform policies with a targeted release in late 2021.