The regulations surrounding Marine Corps uniforms are numerous and lengthy, covering which uniforms are worn on which occasions, the full list of accessories that are included with each uniform, when and where to wear insignia and medals, and how to care for the uniforms. Almost all the regulations apply to both men and women, but some subsections of the regulation lists, as made public on the Marine Corps website, deal specifically with women’s uniforms, addressing issues including maternity wear and earrings.
The hem of the service and dress skirts falls between one inch above the kneecap and one inch below the kneecap. Skirt hems are two to three inches wide and must be pressed flat.
There are two skirts for evening dress, one floor-length and one knee-length. A woman wearing the “evening dress ‘A’ uniform” must wear the long skirt, but when wearing any other evening dress uniform she can choose between the floor-length and the knee-length “depending on the degree of formality required.”
On occasions that call for uniformity, such as parades or ceremonies, commanders might direct female Marines to all wear the skirt or to all wear slacks, at the commander’s discretion.
The Marine Corps issues both maternity service uniforms and maternity camouflage work uniforms. A pregnant Marine must wear the maternity uniforms when her commander determines that she can no longer wear the standard ones.
The service uniform includes a green tunic top, khaki shirt with long or short sleeves, and a green skirt or slacks. The items can usually be worn in any combination, but regulations specify that certain combinations either require or preclude a neck tab or an open collar. For occasions that necessitate the service “A” uniform, she must wear the tunic. When wearing the skirt, the Marine must wear oxford shoes, flats or pumps, with hose. With the slacks she must wear oxfords and dark hose or socks.
Marines in certain commands are authorized to wear the maternity camouflage work uniform. It consists of slacks and a coat in the “woodland camouflage” pattern. This uniform calls for combat boots.
Marines may not wear earrings with utility uniforms or while participating in ceremonies or parades. However, they may wear earrings with the service and dress uniforms, as long as the earrings fit tightly against the earlobes and don’t extend below the earlobes. The diameter of the earrings may not be more than 6 mm. Depending on which uniform the Marine is wearing, the earrings must be either gold balls or studs, or white pearls.
Female Marines may carry handbags with the blue-white dress uniforms, the blue dress uniforms, and the service uniforms, but not with the utility or maternity work uniforms, or while in formation.
The bag must be rectangular and made of plain natural or synthetic leather with a brass-plated or gold-colored clasp closure with no zippers or buckles and no ornamentation. It may be no larger than 12 inches by 8 inches by 3.5 inches. The strap must be made of the same material as the purse. The Marine must carry her bag on her left arm or over her left shoulder.
Officers wear a plain, rectangular clutch with dress uniforms, not a bag with a strap or handle. With white dress uniforms, the clutch is white. With evening dress uniforms, it is black.
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Sarah Bronson received her Master of Arts in journalism from New York University in 2002. Since then her clients have included "The New York Times," "Glamour," "Executive Travel," "Fodor's," "The Jerusalem Report," "ESPN—The Magazine," the "Washington Times" and "Figure" magazine. Her areas of expertise include biotechnology, health, education, travel, Judaism and fashion.