The latest updates to the Navy's uniform policy include a host of changes for women, including improved slacks and skirts for some ranks, flats authorized for optional wear, and a nursing top for new moms.
Navy leaders approved several uniform changes Monday, including the end of red service stripes and ratings badges for sailors who have served 12 years or more. The changes, officials said, are the result of feedback from the fleet.
Several of the announced changes, which were approved by Chief of Naval Personnel Vice Adm. Robert Burke and detailed in Navy administrative message 075/19, will affect only female sailors and officers.
Here's a look at what has been approved:
New slacks and skirts for some. The Navy has been testing better-fitting slacks and skirts for female officers and chief petty officers. Those evaluations are complete, according to the NAVADMIN, and women can now purchase the new items, labeled New Fit, at some Navy exchanges.
"The improved slacks design incorporates a lower waist, reduced rise (top of inseam to waist) and reduced zipper closure length," the message states. "The improved skirt incorporates a straight line design."
New Fit items are currently available at the main exchange or uniform centers in Norfolk and Arlington, Virginia, or the fleet stores in San Diego and Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. The items can also be purchased online.
Flats for certain uniforms. Effective immediately, women are authorized to wear flat shoes with their service and service dress uniforms, according to the NAVADMIN. They must be black, brown or white with rubber outsoles that provide some traction and quarter- to half-inch heels.
The shoes can be made from leather or synthetic materials but must be smooth slip-ons with rounded toes. Heels and toes must also be closed, and there can be no decorative stitching or other ornamental designs. Additional rules are listed in the NAVADMIN.
"Flats shall be worn in the same manner as dress shoes to include hosiery," the new policy states.
Ponytail updates. More than eight months after the Navy approved ponytails for women wearing service, working or physical training uniforms, service leaders are clarifying some of the rules. Confusion and questions from the fleet prompted the changes, according to the NAVADMIN.
"Ponytail hairstyles shall not interfere with the proper wearing of military headwear and equipment nor extend downward more than three inches (approximate length of a Common Access Card) below the lower edge of the collar (shirt/blouse, jacket or coat) while sitting, standing or walking," the message states.
Ponytails also can't extend outward from the back of the head more than 3 inches, and the accessory used to secure the hair can't be visible from the front.
Shirts for nursing moms. Also effective immediately, the Navy approved a new optional-wear T-shirt for nursing sailors. They're available in long- and short-sleeves and can be worn with service or working uniforms and flight suits.
The shirts' authorized colors depend on the uniform with which they're worn, and since they're not 100 percent cotton, are not authorized in some working environments. Additional details are available in the NAVADMIN.