Linda Maye Adams

Soldier, Storyteller

Staying Warm in the Military Class B’s


This morning when I went out to my car, it was 7.  Yup, single digits.  The last time it was this cold in Washington, DC, I was still in the military and finding out that the uniforms weren’t so good at keeping me warm.  I am so grateful I can bundle myself up the way I need to.

The class B uniform was the worst.  There’s a picture of it here.  The one on the left is how we wore the shirt then, though, from what I understand, the army made some modifications to it.  If we put the green coat on over the shirt, it becomes a class A uniform.  We didn’t have hats like in the picture though — that’s pretty fancy, and as I recall about $40 (in 1990s).  We also couldn’t wear it generally because we had to match everyone else.  So we all wore the envelope hat, which was never very good at staying put.

The uniform was also made to look good, not for warmth.  We could wear a black trench coat in bad weather. It did have a furry insert, but it wasn’t that warm.  Then, it didn’t matter because of the shoes.

Women had two options: High heels and low quarters.  Let me confess.  I have wide feet.  I also have flat feet.  I could never find any pumps that fit.  Usually they were too big in the heel while my toes were jammed in the pointy part.  Three minutes, and I was begging to put the shoes out of my misery.

Low quarters were better (this newer picture shows they’ve improved the shoes) — but it was like walking outside barefoot in snow.  Absolutely no protection.  I think the guys had it better because they could wear socks.  The women then weren’t supposed to.  We had to wear nylons with it. (Don’t know if that’s true now.)

I ended up standing in deep snow in the above uniform and pushing a van that had gotten stuck.

Ever get a shoe wet with snow when you’re wearing nylons?  It’s a very special experience.

It’s one thing I don’t miss about the military.  Tomorrow it’ll be 11 out.  Definitely burrowing at home this weekend.

12 Comments

  1. I have two cousins that are enlisted right now, one in the army, the other in the air force and both of my uncles (Mathair’s brothers) were in the seventies. My Uncle Barry was in the army, my Uncle Robert in the Marines. To hear the two different generations tell stories/recollections, it’s as if my cousins are in a wholly different ballgame. Guess that comes with anything in life though. Wonder if the economy has anything to do with it? Sorry for my ignorance, Linda. Though I have family members in the service, I’m completely oblivious to anything related to it, which is pretty sad on my part. But, you’ve taught me something today, so that’s a plus. Great post and sharing now. 🙂

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    • It’s more of the culture itself. Even though each service is the military, each service is very different. The army tends to treat its people like cattle. I remember a bunch of us piling into a car to go over to McChord Air Force Base, just a few miles away, to eat in their mess hall. It looked like a restaurant compared to ours! And the food was miles better. They didn’t want army soldiers coming over, so they quickly put it off limits to us! In Desert Storm, we got latrines that were wooden boxes with halved oil drums inside. The Air Force got air conditioned tents with portable flush toilets. Some said it was because the Air Force had planes and could fly in these things, but I think also it was because the Air Force respected its people a little more.

      By the way, the Marines thought the Army was rich!

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  2. Maria

    Hi Linda, can you please explain me why in the US military woman uniform have two options about shirts? One is untucked, and one tucked. Is there any special purpose for this option? Can you wear either of them whenever you want? Can you wear the tucked in shirt untucked as well?
    In my country all military woman have only one option, tucked in shirt. It happens to have a neighbor and good friend of mine, a military woman, and most of the time I see her coming home from work her uniform shirt looks so messy, untucked in the back or at the sides, and sometimes completely untucked. I ask her why her shirt is never properly tucked, because of being tall, shirts are too short for her torso and coming untucked. She cant help it. Now I see the photos of the untucked version of the US military shirt, I think it would be better looking shirt rather than tucked in but coming untucked shirt!

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    • You know, I had to look this up, because I’ve always known we could wear it either way, but not why — and the regulation doesn’t state why! However, the shirt is very form fitting and tight, and the one I wore was clearly designed to worn untucked because of the way the hemline looks (more recent updates have a tucked in version). So I think that came first, and the army may have allowed it to be tucked because of fit issues on some body types (meaning it may look better tucked in).

      Of course, it also could be one of those decisions like men not being allowed to carry an umbrella in Class As that was made somewhere upstairs and makes absolutely no sense …

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  3. Maria

    About the untucked shirt which is very tight, is it design to be this tight or is up to you to choose the size to be that tight? It really looks great, but I wonder how comfotrable is it?
    About the tucked in shirt, from what I can see is not that tight, it looks more loose, is it this way design? Do you have any problems like my friend has with the shirt coming untucked specially when sitting, or bend over or any other woman you may know? Do they design them long enough? Is it more comfortabel to be tucked or untucked?
    Which one do you prefer?
    I had a discussion with my friend today about it when she return home form the army(she looked so funny with half shirt tucked and the rest untucked), and she told me that all the time she has bad comments form her officers about her shirts. She is thinking of get her shirts tailored very fit and tight so they do not bounced, cut the hemline just below the belt line, and then sew inside the shirt somehow so the shirt will stay untucked but it will look like is tucked. I dont know if it will works, but I quess you have better regulations which allow you to choose from tucked to untucked shirt version. You might have guess she would choose the untucked one.

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    • The shirts are cut to be very fitted — not tight (unless you gain weight anyway). The ones I had were not made to be tucked in (though the option was available) — that’s a more recent change. It probably looks looser because the army redesigned it to cut down on the extensive alterations. The older design required something like 16 separate alternations!

      I preferred the untucked version because it hid problems with the waistband on both the pants and skirt — both of which were very hard to fit.

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  4. Maria

    About the untucked shirt, they tailored it to each woman measurements or there were different sizes to choose from? I guess is not easy to find the right size because is cut to be very firm as you said, was it easy to find one suits to each woman? What about the long sleeve shirts, again you have untucked or tucked option, or is just tucked? From what I can imagine there is pointless to have untucked shirt when you wear a coat above it.

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    • The tailoring depended on the woman’s body type. I was able to wear it off the rack, but I was the exception.

      The option for tucking in the shirt or not was up to the woman.

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  5. Maria

    So you could wear the shirt untucked even if it was the tucked in version? It was up to personal choice? I thought it was against regulation. Or the other way round, wear the untucked version tucked in?

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  6. Linda Adams

    No. The tucked in shirt style is new. We didn’t have it then.k

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  7. Maria

    I search in the internet about it and found this photo which is obviously is the untutcked shirt but they wear it tucked in.

    This is the link to check it out:

    http://militaryfox.com/index.php/Attractive-Military-Women/us-army-stand-tall

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