Life in the Military

Uniforms & Grooming

As a matter of pride, tradition and order, service members in all six military branches are held to high standards in terms of appearance. This can be seen in the uniforms they wear and the personal grooming they practice.


One very obvious way that the Service branches are different from one another is their uniforms. Each Service branch provides their members with multiple sets of uniforms for many different purposes. These can include:

  • Camouflage combat and work uniforms.
  • Service Dress uniforms, which are equivalent to business outfits that members wear in office environments or when interacting with the public.
  • A variety of other uniforms for more formal occasions.
  • Physical fitness uniforms.
  • Maternity uniforms.
  • Flight suits and role-specific work overalls.

All of these uniforms include hats or “covers,” which are never worn indoors.

Depending on which is being worn, uniforms can display patches, ribbons, bars, chevrons, braids and/or medals that indicate the individual’s name, grade/rank, Service branch, unit and accomplishments.

Uniform Allowance

Service members are responsible for cleanliness and upkeep of their uniforms, which must be both worn and kept in impeccable condition. To help with this responsibility, enlisted members are provided an allowance to maintain and replace required items as needed.

Civilian Clothing

Civilian Clothing

Military members who are off duty (and ashore), such as on evenings and weekends or during leave or liberty, are permitted to wear civilian clothing.


Like service uniforms, each military branch has its own grooming and personal care standards. These extensive rules and regulations outline the appropriate appearance and permissibility of:

  • Body art and tattoo size, subject matter, and placement
  • Body piercings, branding or intentional scarring
  • Haircut lengths and styles
  • Hair coloring/dying
  • Hair elastics, pins, and accessories
  • Makeup and other cosmetics
  • Wigs and hairpieces
  • Facial hair 
  • Dental ornamentation

To learn more about the grooming standards of a specific Service branch, contact a recruiter.