It’s a Matter of Dress

Navy Dress Code hasn’t Changed!

When I was visiting the USS Constitution I was impressed by the way the sailors were dressed in period costume. But I was corrected. These may be vintage duds but the are still official Navy Uniforms.

The Pike and Sailcloth

When you approach the entrance to the dry dock you are greeted by a crew member. The one who met me was carrying a Pike. I asked him what it was and he said it was a boarding pike. He immediately demonstrated how the sailors would crouch, bracing themselves and point the  tip of the pike toward the gunnel. When the enemy tried to board they threw themselves on the sharp point. As he went on to say, we didn’t have to kill anybody. They did it all themselves!

He explained that his pants are made of sailcloth so if a cannon ball ripped the sail they could cut a patch from the legs of the pants.

The 1813’s

The crew in those days referred to their dress code as the 1813’s. It’s a official Navy uniform  and its wear is still prescribed in the Navy uniform regulations. Prior to 1813 and during the War of 1812, the  enlisted crew served in whatever clothing they owned when they joined the service.

The “uniform” evolved as crew members began to buy clothing that looked like other sailors eventually they all started looking alike, creating a “uniform” appearance.

There are many types of Navy Uniforms

My brother was in the Navy and over the years I got to see several uniforms. I know there are service dress uniforms,  worn for official functions not rising to the level of full or dinner dress. they are seasonal with white worn in summer and blue in winter. I’m partial to the white myself.

Service Dress Blues for male junior enlisted personnel are based on the standard Navy jumper in navy blue, colloquially referred to as “crackerjacks” because of the Navy-uniformed figure that adorns the Cracker Jack snack box.

Of course there are the Full Dress, Dinner Dress uniforms, Working uniforms, shipboard working uniforms and the list goes on. I think it would be a full time job to keep straight when to wear what uniform!

So that’s a wrap

I love the uniforms and I thought seeing these young men wear them with such pride, even through they could be mistaken for a costume, was very uplifting.

Nothing quite like a man in uniform!





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