Skip to comments.Marine Dress Code Changes Communities (No Cammies Allowed Off Base)
Posted on 10/19/2007 2:09:06 PM PDT by Responsibility2nd
OCEANSIDE, Calif. (AP) - The Marine Corps is taking on the role of fashion police. Earlier this year, the Marine Corps commandant updated the regulations on what Marines can and cannot wear, on duty and off, in the United States. Among the fashion don'ts: No shiny metal or gems on your teeth, no designs carved in your hair, no flashy jewelry and no bare midriffs or excessive cleavage.
But it is Gen. James T. Conway's ban on the wearing of camouflage uniforms, or "cammies," off base that is getting the most attention, changing not only the appearance of the Marines but also the look of their communities.
Under the new regulation, Marines in camouflage cannot get out of their vehicles to run an errand or grab a meal on their way to or from the base. No pumping gas, running into the post office or picking up a cup of joe, either.
Although Marines were always largely prohibited from wearing uniforms off base, they were allowed to make brief stops during their commutes. Now they can stop only for a medical emergency, a traffic accident or a breakdown.
Around Oceanside, a community about 35 miles north of San Diego where Marines from neighboring Camp Pendleton are a common sight, the most noticeable effect is at fast food drive-thrus. Long lines are forming because Marines in uniform are not allowed to get out of their cars and go inside.
John Alexander, who works at GI Joe's, a military surplus store, said customers don't drop in during the middle of the day anymore, though business picks up in the late afternoon.
"There's no such thing as a quick trip anymore," he said.
Navy Senior Chief David Matthews, 39, said the scene is the same in Jacksonville, N.C., outside Camp Lejeune. Matthews said some Marines and Navy personnel have come up with creative ways to run errands during duty hours.
"They get a buddy who has civilian clothes on to go with them. They drive and wait while their buddy gets out of the car and runs the errand," he said.
Marines caught in uniform off base can get a warning; for repeat offenses, they can be restricted to their barracks and their pay can be docked.
While the military has always had strict guidelines for what service members can wear, even out of uniform, Conway said the updated regulations are about maintaining Marine "uniformity and pride in appearance."
"It wasn't that Marines were blatantly breaking the rules. It was more of a tradition, and we just needed to get it back in the box, put it in writing and say here's the policy, here's the rules," said Staff Sgt. Jesse Lora, a spokesman at Camp Pendleton.
Earlier this year, the Marines banned extra-large tattoos below the elbow or the knee, saying such body art is harmful to the Corps' spit- and-polish image.
Some businesses are getting creative to cope with the no-cammies-off- base rule, which was issued in July.
In Oceanside, the Colimas Mexican Restaurant, popular for its takeout lunch, now runs a sort of carhop service for Marines, who call in their orders and then wait in their cars for delivery out front.
Andrea Cerda, who works at Dorothy's Military Shop, a tailor shop, said it is not uncommon to see Marines changing clothes in their car, wriggling out of their pants and boots and into civilian wear.
"You see them bending around their steering wheel or moving back and forth in the driver's seat and you know what they are doing," she said.
During a quick trip recently to drop off dry cleaning in Oceanside, Lance Cpl. Nicholas Doucakis, 20, had to change clothes on base. He said the regulation didn't bother him.
"If you are a Marine, they want you to look a certain way," he said. "I guess in a way they don't want you to look like a disgrace to society."
As for other branches of the military, Army soldiers can wear combat uniforms off base, and Navy personnel can wear some uniforms off base and off ship.
Under the updated Marine regulations, women are prohibited from baring their midriffs, wearing any lingerie-type clothing on the outside or wearing low-slung pants or blouses that show excessive cleavage.
"On the topic of wearing lingerie as outerwear, is the commandant kidding?" said TV style guru Tim Gunn of Bravo's "Project Runway." "Has this really been an issue? Surely, the Marines aren't accepting Britney into their ranks."
I don't get it.
I was in the Marine Corps from 1988-92, and we weren’t allowed to wear cammies off base. When did the rule change to allow it ???
I disagree with this order and it really does make me angry.
I disagree with this order and it really does make me angry.
Now we won’t get a chance to pick up the tab for them in a restaurant. One of life’s greatest pleasures.
I get it. There used to be such a thing as a "Walking Out" uniform. The messiness began a long time ago when folks started going off base in BDUs.
It's like that other abomination "Office Casual." Or what Americans now wear to shop at Wal-Mart. Pierced and tattooed 250-lb teenagers with bare midriffs (both sexes) are OK at Disneyland perhaps (where no sane person of my generatiion would be caught dead anyway), but not in the military.
It was a standard order when I was in. Didn't bother me.
Back in ‘52, when the old salts got tired of us boots bitching about not being allowed to wear Levis, shirts w/o collars (no t-shirts) etc. they would tell us how—in the OLLLD Corps—at Quantico, for instance, Marines had to wear a coat and tie just to go to the base flik.
Usually, off base uniform was winter greens/summer khaki w/field scarf (no short-sleeve shirts in those days), w/barracks cap—sewed-up c-caps were out—had to show liberty cards to MPs going ashore at maingate and/or on the liberty bus. Dungarees off the base was unthinkable.
I as attached to the Marines 1990-1994. No cammies allowed off base. Also no flat-tops, shaved heads (unless you were bald), tattoes not covered by the uniform ect.
Both the Marine Corps and the Army seem to go through this cycle every few years.
While I think it’s alittle much to keep Marines from getting out of thier car with BDU’s..however here we are near an Air Force base but far enough away that the guys feel there is no need for covers or military bearing..in the case of “These” types perhaps they shouldn’t be seen representing the “Military”..(asbestos suit being put on becuase of the anti wing nut comments!)
When I was in we could do QUICK trips but no shopping at Walmart or sit down resaurants. Seemed to work for me..
Unfortunately, the State of California does not appreciate the military. Camis give the distinction of being a warfighter. The American public and those who have not served however can wear any thing that looks military.
I was in mid to late 60s and while the rules and regs weren’t quite as strict as “Old Corps” days, they were damn close. Semper Fi ...
What happens is fatigues are allowed of post/base, many use the policy, then some start to abuse it, no hats, no jackets, boots unbloused, etc.
The Marines have cracked down for now. The troops will survive.
McDonald’s drive throughs are a result of a similar rule. The franchisee in Sierra Vista, Az, set up a drive up window after soldiers at Fort Huachuca faced a similar restriction. (mid 1970s)
Some of you “older” jarheads may get a kick out of this one...
Two things, if I may.
First: When I was active “way back when” we were not allowed to wear “Statesides” or “Jungles” off base, period. Civies or Dress Uniform only.
Second: In Oceanside, the Colimas Mexican Restaurant, popular for its takeout lunch, now runs a sort of carhop service for Marines, who call in their orders and then wait in their cars for delivery out front.
I don’t remember this restaurant from my days at Pendelton, but the attitude of the day was that the locals would rather throw rocks or spit at us.
Jim USMC ‘73
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