New uniform, grooming regulations in effect

16 Aug 2007 | Cpl. Shane Suzuki

Thirty-six new uniform and grooming regulations have been finalized and are now part of the official Marine Corps order governing uniform wear and appearance.

Some of the regulations are completely new, such as new rules forbidding popular haircuts like the"horseshoe" and "teardrop". Others are merely clarifications of the existing order and explicitly define what is and isn't eccentric for female haircuts.

"Basically, we did this because they are long overdue,"said Mary Boyt, Marine Corps Uniform Board program manager. "The grooming regulations haven't kept up with technology and modern grooming. The last regulations were made before cell phones and Blue Tooth (technology). Guys weren't wearing hair gel and dying their hair like boy bands. We are just trying to keep up with the times. We also wanted to kill some Corps lore, what Marines graduating boot camp thought was law and found out was just myth."

The order was published Aug. 1, but was back-dated to July 11 when the Commandant of the Marine Corps, Gen. James Conway signed the order.

According to Marine Corps Uniform Board, the new regulations are in response to Marines whoe have asked for more guidance - and less interpretation - of the old regulations. Terms like"eccentric" and “conservative” were often left up to local commanders to interpret, making for uneven enforcement of the regulations across the Marine Corps.

"We have received very little negative response to this,"said Boyt. "We have received overwhelmingly positive feedback about these new regulations. We keep hearing that they are very cut and dry and easy to understand."

New technologies also pushed the need for an update. Wearing cell phones on your belt, listening to mp3 players, or using"hands free devices" are all now outlawed while in uniform. Mobile phones can still be carried in pockets, but walking and talking is now explicitly banned.

In addition to not being able to walk and talk in uniform, another long lasting tradition of the Corps has been put into writing - Marines cannot walk and drink at the same time or walk with their hands in their pockets.

As for those"Geiger Tigers" who are often seen walking the Jacksonville Mall with their camouflage backpacks, those bags, along with any other non-organizational gear can no longer be worn in uniform. They can, however, be carried by hand. This regulation extends to gym bags and computer bags. Only bags that are on a unit's allowance list that are purchased with Marine Corps funds and have to be returned to the Marine Corps following an essential task are allowed. Hydrations systems can be worn on "boots and utilities runs" if the unit command authorizes it.

"Organizational gear extends to duty cell phones and pagers,"said Boyt. "It's the personal bags and electronics that cannot be worn in uniform. These were all things that were Corps lore that we wanted to make official."

Along with the"teardrop" and "horseshoe" haircuts, "Mohawks" and "low-regs" are also now banned. Female Marines also have new regulations, including how short a female's hair can be and how large their bun can extend when their hair is pulled back.

Jewelry regulations have been further defined in the new order as well. Male Marines, while never being allowed to wear earrings, are now banned in writing from wearing them in civilian clothes. Female Marines are now required to wear only one pair of earrings at a time, whether in uniform or in civilian attire.

Civilian attire regulations have also been tightened up in the updated order. All trousers with belt loops must be worn with a belt, and any clothing that reveals the"midriff", "buttocks", or "excessive cleavage" are now banned.

"Previously, the only written guidance was if a Marine was on ship or flying,"said Boyt. "Now, it's still up to local commanders, but we have given them the tools and guidance to make things more uniform across the Corps. Ultimately, it will be the commanding officers responsibility to determine what is appropriate within these guidelines."

For more information or to see the approved changes to Marine Corps Order P1020.34G, go to