Marine Corps' what not to wear

22 Dec 2009 | Marine Cpl. Jessica L. Martinez

When people see a Marine Corps recruiting poster, they see two different types of images, the warfighter or a Marine looking sharp and clean cut in his dress blues. This professional standard and image of Marines are held high in the beloved Corps, while in and out of uniform.

“It isn’t documented anywhere that we have to have a Marine Corps,” said Sgt. Maj. Michael R. Wootten, sergeant major of Headquarters and Support Battalion with Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune. “America wants its Marine Corps. Yeah, the army can do what we can, but America knows Marines do it the best. That’s why America wants us, because we are professionals, and they expect more from us than anyone else.”

Marines have a dress code to abide to while in uniform, as well as one while wearing civilian attire.

“Appropriate civilian attire is defined as that which meets common sense standards of safety, decency, neatness and cleanliness,” as stated by the Base Order 1020.8. “The recent trend in popular casual wearing apparel and contemporary attire is acceptable provided that isn’t eccentric and it does not bring unnecessary public attention to the wearer.”

Some examples of acceptable civilian attire are:

            -coat and tie

            -slacks and shirt

            -shirts with or with out collar, other than undershirts

            -jeans and shorts

            -shoes not including shower shoes or flip flops

“Inappropriate and eccentric clothing are defined as that which is torn, ripped, ragged, excessively dirty, revealing, closely related with drugs, extremist or racist groups or other illegal activities,” as stated by the order.

Examples of inappropriate attire are as follows:

            -clothing with designs of an obscene or suggestive nature

            -shirts with or without collars, which are adorned with sexual, racist, obscene, anti-military or drug-related pictures, words, designs or printings

            -trousers that are frayed, dirty, adorned with sexual, racist, anti-military or obscene pictures, words, designs or printing

            -short shorts, beach or swim wear (except at beaches), garments designed as underwear/under garments

            -tank tops and so-called “muscle shirts” (except at beaches and while participating in physical training)

            -wearing of clothing articles not specifically designed to be normally worn as headgear such as bandannas and doo rags are prohibited

            -revealing clothing that exposes midriff, the buttocks and excessive amounts of chest/cleavage is prohibited

“Marines are associated and identified with the Marine Corps in and out of uniform and when on or off duty,” as stated by the base order. “Therefore, when civilian clothing is worn, Marines will ensure that their dress and personal appearance are conservative and commensurate with the high standards traditionally associated with the Marine Corps.”

A Marines’ lifestyle includes a regular dose of exercise to stay fit and ready for the fight, and with that an increasing casual dress code as well.

Athletic attire is only to be worn for athletic activities. Items such as sweat suits, running/jogging suits, athletic shorts, sports jerseys and swim attire are not acceptable to wear out and around the base.

While there is a dress code that applies to Marines in and out of uniform, there is also a dress code for civilians while on the installation. Family members, retirees, guests and government service employees are required to abide to the proper dress standards as well.

“Appropriate civilian attire is subject to many trends in fashion and difficult to define by detailed regulations, but it is expected that all personnel, civilian, military or military family members will exercise good judgment in selecting appropriate civilian wearing apparel,” as stated by the base order. “Civilians and family members will not wear any items of a military uniform with grade insignia or branch of service buttons or devices. Military members are accountable for the actions of their family members and for the civilian attire worn by their family members aboard Camp Lejeune.”

Although there is a base order for how Marines must dress themselves while on base, the dress code still applies to Marines while they are off the base, and Marines should not only take pride in their appearance, but the band of brothers for which they represent.

“Marines are Marines 24/7,” said Wootten. “As a Marine you not only represent the (United States Marine Corps), but past Marines as well. We are either warfighting or looking good and none of that image is unprofessional.”

For more information on what is and what is not appropriate to wear on or off base as military or civilians, refer to Camp Lejeune’s base order 1020.8 at or Marine Corps Order P1020.34G at