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The Army is ruthlessly practical when it comes to the uniform:

  1. The expandable cargo pocket is big enough for a soldier to put an MRE in it. Or a paperback book, in my case! There are priorities.
  2. The fly uses buttons instead of a zipper. Zippers break and then the pants have to be sent out for repair. But a button can be fixed with a needle and thread in a few minutes.
  3. Lots and lots of pockets for putting anything and everything inside. On the pants, there are two cargo pockets, 2 front pockets, and 2 back pockets. On the shirt, there are four more pockets.
  4. The pants tuck into the boots. That means no hem alterations. That was probably a good thing since the uniform was way too big on me. I could cover my feet entirely with the hems and still have cloth left over.
  5. Long sleeves, which were loose enough to be worn down in winter or rolled up during the summer. No need to have a short sleeve version and a long sleeve version when one would work.
  6. A t-shirt worn under the shirt. During the Civil War era, women used detachable collars and under sleeves to keep the dress from wearing out. The t-shirt serves the same purpose.
  7. Washable in the washing machine. Granted, I usually sent it out and had it starched — so much easier than me spending time to do it (and technically, it wasn’t supposed to be starched, but everyone always expected creases).

It’s quite different from buying clothes at the store. I find clothes that are “hand wash only,” or “dry clean only.” Or, like a sweater I have, I have to detach the fur collar before I can wash it. But a soldier may have very little choice about what how she gets the uniform cleaned.

Next up will be “living Quarters in desert storm” so tune in, same military channel, same military time tomorrow.