Desert Storm: Uniforms — One Size Fits All … Men

One of the curious things about the Army during this time is that they were not quite sure what to do with the women soldiers. So as a default, they treated us like we were men, except that we weren’t.

It was something never more apparent than with the uniforms we would be wearing.

We got our desert camouflage uniforms fairly quickly. I remember being bused down to the clothing issue building. It was a huge, cavernous warehouse, white on the outside and dark on the inside. We filed along a brown painted counter, and civilian workers asked us what size we wore. They gave us two each of the uniforms, which was the shirt and pants, plus one floppy brimmed hat (a Boonie hat). I was a small, extra short.

The normal issue was four, but supplies were already running low, so the Army was having to stretch things out. My company had one sergeant who was very tall, and they didn’t have any uniforms for him at all.

The women all had the opposite problem: Everything was both too big and too small. Mine was way too big across the shoulders. I always had this kind of puffed out part on my back, like I had a creature sticking to my spine or something. The sleeves were so long that I could curl my fingers up and my hands would disappear. Handy when it was cold!

The pants were always too long, but thankfully were tucked into the boots. No need to get expensive hemming done! I always had trouble with the waist, which was too big on me. I have an hourglass, and virtually everything I end up with is too big in the waist. Some of the other women had trouble with getting the hips to fit right, because the pants were made for a much narrower male hip. Unfortunately, if you went up bigger sizes, the uniform ended up bigger in other places, too.

More recently, the Army decided to have a look at getting uniforms fitted for women — but it took them over twenty years to figure out that women were different!

History of Uniforms, from the New York Times.  The uniform we wore was #16, and it did include that weird looking grid jacket.  We never knew what to do with that, so we often wore it to ward against the night chills when we were in civilian clothes.  Don’t forget to check on #11, which is WAC uniform from World War II.