Under orders from Secretary Ray Mabus, the Navy has announced changes that will eventually make uniforms and covers more gender-neutral.
And so, the unisex "Dixie Cup," or enlisted white hat, will come into being and be available for wear by E-6s and below next April. Female sailors will also be allowed to carry bigger purses, so long as they match their shoes.
"Having service members don the same headgear is symbolic of a Navy that is gender-blind," said Lt. Cmdr. Nate Christensen, a Navy spokesman.
"We have been working hard to design covers and uniforms that improve uniformity across the force as well as improve the function and fit of sailors' uniforms" according to Mabus' plan for uniform and cover redesign, Christensen said.
"We have done several wear-tests and have incorporated sailors' feedback" into the final designs, he said.
Effective immediately under the new regulations, the Alternative Combination Cover (ACC) and current male combination cover for officers and chief petty officers can now be worn by both men and women in service dress uniforms.
All officers and chiefs will be required to wear either the ACC or the current male Combination Cover by Oct. 31, 2016, the Navy said.
In addition, beginning Oct. 1 next year, the Recruit Training Command will begin issuing re-designed Service Dress Blue uniforms in jumper style for both men and women.
The jumper will incorporate a side zipper and the slacks will have a front zipper to help with changing in and out of uniform, the Navy said. Both men's and women's uniform pants will have the traditional 13 buttons but those are just for show -- "they will not be functional," the Navy said.
By the fall of 2016, male and female recruits at boot camp will be issued new SDBs, meaning the eventual end of the female version of the "crackerjack" with jacket and tie for female petty officers and junior sailors.
Another eventual change is coming to the choker-style women's Officer and Chief Petty Officer (CPO) Service Dress White (SDW) Coat. That will be worn by both men and women in the coming years.
The new choker-style SDWs will be available through Navy Exchange uniform stores and call centers beginning Jan. 1, 2017, the Navy said. The mandatory wear date is Jan. 1, 2020.
-- Richard Sisk can be reached at Richard.Sisk@military.com.