For the last few months, the U.S. Army has been working on a new fashion guide for its troops, and it’s fair to say that the U.S. Civil War would probably never have happened if these rules had been in effect back then.
The meticulous, 57-page document surfaced online Thursday and is chock-a-block with all the latest fashion dos and don’ts for our men and women in uniform, from tattoos to fingernail polish and, including a long section on mustaches, which were huge in the military in the late 1800s.
Not surprisingly, grills and gold-plated teeth are still frowned upon and forbidden. As are Mohawks, teardrop- and horseshoe-patterned haircuts.
But there are a number of finer fashion points sprinkled throughout these pages that may take some time for soldiers and soon-to-be GIs to wrap their heads around. We’ve tried to break a few of them down for you.
Dudes, sideburns and mustaches are totally cool. But, by golly, you better keep them in check. Seriously. Sideburns cannot extend below the bottom of your “ear opening” and must be no longer than 1/8 of an inch.
Nor can your mustache creep sideways past the corner of the mouth or cover that embarrassing upper lip line. Does all of this make sense? Do you need a picture? The Army has you covered with this helpful chart.
Ladies with dreadlocks, twists and long bangs—it’s time to find a new hairstyle. Here’s a further warning. Hairline parts that do not exact a straight line will land you in hot water. However, feel free to enjoy these sanctioned coiffures: ponytails (but only during physical training), braids and cornrows. There is a caveat, however. Unkempt braids or cornrows will be considered dreadlocks. Watch it.
Hair regulations for women don’t stop there. Wigs are allowed. So are hair extensions. But they must look natural. Lastly, there is list of unauthorized “hair devices.” They include: claw clips, head bands, beads and scrunchies that don’t match the color of your hair.
There’s not a lot of good news for tattoo lovers. Starting soon, you will no longer be able to serve in the Army if you have ink seared into your neck, hands, head or face. You can also kiss goodbye those dreams of that cool tattoo sleeve that covers your entire arm or leg—that’s no longer allowed either. More than four tattoos below the elbow or knee is forbidden. Any tattoo below the elbow or knee must be smaller than the size of your hand.
Any enlisted soldier whose tattoos exceed these new limits will not be allowed to move into the commissioned officer ranks with all that ink. Finally, don’t try to pull any fast ones on your commanding officers. They will be keeping track of all of your tattoos. They will perform annual checks on your body for new ink. All your tattoos will also be documented and loaded into an online database.
The Army does not frown upon those who bite their fingernails down to the nubs. Men are not allowed to have their fingernails exceed beyond the tip of the finger. Ladies can only have nails that are 1/4-inch beyond the tip of their finger. Nail polish is allowed, but only for woman, and only if the nail polish is clear. But here’s a little silver lining: Acrylic nails are allowed, as long as they appear natural.
There are times when you can carry an umbrella in the Army. And there are times you can’t. First thing’s first. Umbrella can only be solid black in color, and soldiers can carry them during inclement weather or while wearing service, dress and mess uniforms. But prepare to get soaked if you happen to be in formation or if you happen to be wearing your field or utility uniform. Umbrellas in those instances are not allowed.