Service dress uniform

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Senior officers wearing the service dress of the Royal Australian Air Force, US Marine Corps and US Navy.

Service dress uniform is the informal type of uniform used by military, police, fire and other public uniformed services for everyday office, barracks and non-field duty purposes. It frequently consists of a jacket, trousers, white dress shirt, and neck tie, sometimes for ceremonial occasions along with orders and medals insignia. Design may depend on regiment or service branch, e.g. army, navy, air force, marines, etc. In Western dress codes, service dress uniform is a permitted supplementary alternative equivalent to the civilian suit - sometimes collectively called undress or "dress clothes". As such, service dress uniform is considered less formal than both full dress uniform and mess dress uniform, but more formal than casual wear combat uniform.

Service dress uniforms were originally worn on active service in the field or at sea, but became relegated to office, barracks, and walking out dress as more practical field uniforms evolved. In some parts of some armed forces such as the British Army, service dress uniform may also be used for ceremonial occasions, gradually replacing in this role the full dress uniforms that had preceded them as field uniforms. In the United States Navy, for example, service dress uniforms are worn for official functions not rising to the level of full dress uniform or mess dress uniform. They are also commonly worn when travelling in official capacity, or when reporting to a command. They may be seasonal, with a white uniform worn in summer and darker versions in winter. The American Service Dress Blue may be worn year round for travel only.

Service dress uniform by country[edit]


Members of the Royal Canadian Air Force and Royal Canadian Navy in No. 3B Service Dress, a service variant with short-sleeved shirts and no jacket.

Although the Canadian Armed Forces is a single service, its respective environmental commands maintain "distinctive environmental uniforms," distinct for its specific environmental branch (including the Canadian Army, the Royal Canadian Air Force, and the Royal Canadian Navy). Service dress is listed as No. 3 Service Dress in the Canadian Armed Forces order of dress. The order of dress may be further split into five variant.[1]

The full service dress uniform, known as No. 3 Duty includes the service's headgear, neck tie, name tag. The uniform's jacket, trousers, and collared shirt, are coloured in the style of their environmental command. A skirt may be used by females members in place of trousers.[1]

Service dress with a long-sleeve collared shirt and no jacket is known as No. 3A, while service dress with a short-sleeved collared shirt and no jacket is No. 3B.[1] Wearing an authorized sweater over the collared shirt, instead of a jacket is known as No. 3C.[1] No. 3D Service Dress is the Canadian Armed Forces tropical service dress, and is similar in wear to No. 3B, except it is coloured in tan; and shorts may be worn in place of trousers.[1]


Members of the Israeli Defence Force in their olive-green Madei Alef service dress uniform.

When founded in 1948, only khaki combat uniforms were issued to the Israeli Defence Force Ground Arm. In April, 1948, the first military parade was held, in which soldiers wore the Hittlemacher hat, a square cap with a flap at the back to protect the neck from sun exposure. A winter uniform similar to British Army No. 2 Dress was introduced in the 1950s, and uniforms similar to British Army Barrack Dress was often worn for ceremonial parades from the 1950s and 1960s. For female soldiers, these uniforms included skirts, brown dress shoes (known as Golda shoes for Golda Meir) and caps similar to those worn by airline stewardesses known as rooster caps.[2]

Presently, the Madei Alef uniforms serves as the IDF's service dress uniform. Made out of rayon, the uniforms consist of a shirt, trousers, sweater, jacket or blouse, and shoes or boots. The general service dress uniform is coloured olive-green, although the Madei Alef uniforms used by the Israeli Sea Corps and Air Force are coloured beige.

United Kingdom[edit]

British Army[edit]

General Sir Nicholas Houghton dressed in the British Army's No. 2 Service Dress.

The British Army has issued khaki Service Dress uniforms for use in the field shortly after the Second Boer War, in the early 1900s. Since World War II, the uniform has been referred to as No. 2 Dress, with the tunic being swapped out for a jacket with an open collar for wear with collared shirt and tie. Berets may be worn in place of a peaked cap. Additionally, officers of the British Army are authorized to wear a second variant of service dress, known as No. 4 Warm Weather Service Dress. The uniform is similar to No. 2 Service Dress, except it is stone grey coloured, made from a polyester/wool worsted mix. No. 4 Service Dress is typically worn on warm-weather formal occasions not including parades.

United States[edit]

The five service branches of the United States Armed Forces each maintain their own variant of service dress.

United States Air Force[edit]

The first service dress uniforms used by the United States Air Force were known as "Uxbridge Blue" and were developed and manufactured at the former Bachman Uxbridge Worsted Company in Uxbridge, Massachusetts. The United States Air Force Auxiliary (Civil Air Patrol), is authorized by Congress to wear the United States Air Force uniform since it was recognized as a department of it in 1942.

United States Army[edit]

Members of the United States Army modelling the Class A Army Service Uniform.

The United States Army authorizes a blue uniform known as Army Service Uniform, which serves as the service dress uniform for officers and warrant officers since 1956. It was also authorized for wear by enlisted men and women at their own expense when off duty. The Army blue uniform comprises a dark-blue coat, light-blue or dark-blue (general officers) trousers, a white turndown-collar shirt, black four-in-hand or double Windsor necktie, a black beret, and often a ceremonial belt. When worn with a black bow tie, the Army blue uniform constitutes a formal uniform and corresponds to a civilian tuxedo. When worn with a black four-in-hand or double Windsor necktie, the Army blue uniform is an informal uniform. The uniform's colours are based on the traditional colours used by most Continental/U.S. Army uniforms from 1774 until 1902, with the introduction of khaki and olive drab relegating dark blue tunics and light blue trousers for full dress use and off duty wear until 1917.

From 1954 to 2006, Green Service Uniform were used as the primary service dress uniform in the U.S. Army. In 2006, it was decided that all U.S. Army personnel were to transition to the blue Army Service Uniform. The blue Army Service Uniforms were issued to initial entry training soldiers beginning in the fourth-quarter of fiscal year 2010. In November 2018, the U.S. Army announced the blue Army Service Uniform would be phased out in favour of new Army Greens as a service dress, which are scheduled to be phased out of between 2018 and 2020.[3]

United States Coast Guard[edit]

Members of the United States Coast Guard pose for a photo in service dress blue uniforms.

In 1972, the current Coast Guard Service Dress Blue uniform was introduced for wear by both officers and enlisted personnel; the transition was completed during 1974. Relatively similar in appearance to the old-style U.S. Air Force uniforms, the uniform consists of a blue four-pocket single breasted jacket and trousers in a slightly darker shade. Unlike the U.S. Navy, officers and CPO's do not wear khaki; all personnel wear the same colour uniform.

USCG officers (and 1/c cadets preparing for graduation from the U.S. Coast Guard Academy) are issued Dress Whites for change of command and other formal ceremonies. The Dress White uniform is slightly different for the men's and women's versions - men wear a high stand-collared white tunic, white trousers, and white shoes, while women wear a uniform similar to the Service Dress Blue uniform but with a white coat and skirt or trousers. Both genders wear shoulder boards rather than sleeve stripes, as well as medals (for Full Dress White) or ribbons (for Service Dress White), combination cover, and sword (for Full Dress White). The uniform is nearly identical to the Navy's Full Dress Whites, but the buttons and combination cover device are Coast Guard specific.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e "Dress instructions Annex C Service dress – No. 3". Canadian Forces Dress Instructions. Government of Canada. 1 February 2017. Retrieved 4 June 2019.
  2. ^ Cut from the Same Cloth: A Look Back at the IDF's Uniforms. IDF Blog
  3. ^ "18-.Overcoat,ceremonial,blue" (PDF). Guide to Wear and Appearance of Army Uniforms and Insignia. Department of the Army. 25 May 2017. p. 127. Retrieved 4 June 2019.

External links[edit]

Media related to Service dress at Wikimedia Commons