Army Toe Shoe Ban: Latest in Armed Forces Fashion Regulation

All branches of the military have their quirks as far as dress goes

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Today, the Washington Post reported that the U.S. Army had banned those shoes with the toes built in, which you either hate or own. "The glovelike shoes, with individual sections for individual toes, are supposed to simulate the experience of being barefoot and, enthusiasts say, reduce the likelihood of injuries. But in a notice this month, the Army said that the shoes were not becoming, and that its policy would henceforth be modified." It seemed like an exceptionally specific item of clothing for the brass to bother with banning, but that's the kind of thing that is often at the center of dress-code debates in military or paramilitary institutions. Here are a few other examples.

  • Polyester for the Marines: The corps decided in 2006 to ban polyester or nylon clothing in off-base operations or in forward bases where marines might come into combat or be exposed to fire. The reasoning was that the material posed a much higher burn hazard that other, non-synthetic fibers. Marines were disappointed because some synthetics designed specifically for the heat were really comfortable to wear in Iraq, but most agreed the horrible burns were worth avoiding.
  • Shorts for the Capitol Police: With summer underway and record-high temperatures already recorded in Washington D.C., Capitol Police will definitely want to be taking advantage of the option to wear shorts with their uniforms. But those that work at the Capitol itself must forego their comfort for a professional demeanor. That means long pants. According to Roll Call, a police union spokesman said the reason for the ban was, "shorts-clad officers do not look good carrying large automatic rifles."
  • Fatigues for soldiers working in the Pentagon: Given that soldiers' nickname for their combat uniform is "pajamas," according to Fox, it kind of makes sense the brass doesn't want them worn in the Pentagon. Donald Rumsfeld reportedly dropped a restriction on wearing the uniforms inside the nation's military command center, allowing fatigues inside to remind personnel that the country was at war. But earlier this month it was reinstated, and come October, soldiers must wear their dress uniforms when inside the building.
  • Berets for the Army: Along with the tightening of the Pentagon dress code, the Army loosened up a bit this month, doing away with the hated beret as its uniform headgear and going back to the patrol cap. The move came after a vote by the rank and file, which overwhelmingly decided to do away with the hot, non-breathable berets. Special forces, Rangers, and Airborne units will still wear their traditional berets, but they're tough, and can take it.
  • Skirts for the Navy: Rather than a requirement being imposed, this one was lifted. For the first time since women entered the service in 1908, the Navy in 2004 lifted a requirement that they wear skirts as part of their uniforms. According to USA Today, "Women can still choose to wear skirts, which come in colors that vary according to rank and sometimes the season. But until the new rules went into effect this month, they had to maintain skirts in their sea bags and could be ordered to wear them for special events such as change-of-command and retirement ceremonies."
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.