The Many Marine Corps Uniforms

United States Marines
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The Many Marine Corps Uniforms

This post is the result of a question about Marine Corps uniforms.

My knowledge is based on when I was on active duty from 1988–1998. This post is focused on enlisted uniforms.


Alpha uniform, which is the green gabardine trousers, long sleeve khaki button-down shirt with tie, tied in a half Windsor (including the brass tie tack with EGA), and matching gabardine jacket/coat, topped off with one of two matching green covers (Garrison or Barracks) and shined black low-quarter shoes.

EGA = Eagle, Globe and Anchor enblem

This uniform is usually worn for formal occasions, where the Dress Blue Alpha uniform is not worn, such as a change of duty station and a change of command ceremony. (This uniform hasn’t changed in the past 30 years, with the last change being switching from Polyester and Wool blend materials, one material for summer and one for winter, to all-season gabardine material.)

Alpha Uniform
The Alpha, Bravo and Charlie uniforms

The Dress Blue Alpha uniform, which is now issued to Marines (in the 90’s you had to purchase it), consists of blue trousers (E-4 and above have a red stripe on their trousers), the famous dress blue coat with the tight stiff high neck, brass buttons and collar emblems. Officers also have a white trousers option. The jacket for enlisted and officers is different. The belt for enlisted is white with a brass buckle (the waste plate for E-3 and below is flat, E-4 & E-5 have a brass EGA, and E-6 through E-9 have the brass EGA and wreath. Officers wear the black Sam Browne belt. A white barracks cover is worn along with the same shined black low-quarter shoes. White gloves are worn for a ceremony. Medals and ribbons are worn with this uniform.

Dress Blue Uniforms
Marine Corps Dress Blue uniforms

There is also a Bravo variant of this uniform, where ribbons (instead of medals) and shooting badges are worn.
The Bravo uniform is the Alpha uniform without the jacket/coat. Usually worn in the winter season.

The Charlie uniform is the same as the Bravo uniform, except the shirt is short sleeve and the tie is not worn. Usually worn outside of the winter season.

The Delta uniform has two variations, the short-sleeve and long-sleeve variants. The Delta uniform is the same as the Bravor and Charlie uniforms, except the dress blue trousers are worn along with the white barracks cover. The public will usually see this uniform being worn by recruiters.
There is also a Mess Dress uniform, which is reserved for E-6 and above and worn for special occasions. There are two variants of this uniform, Evening Dress A and B. I never purchased or worn this uniform, even though I left the Corps as an E-6.

Marine Corps Combat Utility uniform

The uniform that is worn daily by most Marines is the Marine Corps Combat Utility Uniform, aka, cammies or utilities, uniform. This uniform consists of combat boots (currently they are tan in color, when I was on active duty they were black leather, which were the issued boots. You could purchase and wear Jungle boots if you desired). The utility trousers and blouse are made of a material called MARPAT (Marine Corps pattern), which has a unique pattern that is different from the other military services. A green or tan t-shirt is worn under the uniform (I believe it is olive green currently). An 8-point cover made of the same MARPAT material is worn.

There are a few other uniforms that are worn by special units or MOSs, such as the Red Dress which is worn by the musicians in the United States Marine Band (The President’s Own) and the United States Marine Drum and Bugle Corps (The Commandant’s Own).

The physical training uniform which I believe is currently all olive-drab in color.

Other Ceremonial Uniforms

Dress Code GuideThere are also some miscellaneous uniform items, such as the Grey all-weather coat (resembles a London Fog trenchcoat); the tanker jacket (which was new while I was on my last tour); the green service sweater (Wooly Pully); the Campaign Cover worn by drill instructors); and the sword, to name a few.

I found a good PDF that shows many of the uniform variations. 


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