On the Way for Female Airmen: Better-Fitting Dress Blues

Airman Leadership School class 18-6 “dress” to their right before a blues inspection at Barksdale Air Force Base, La., Aug. 2, 2018. (U.S. Air Force photo/Philip Bryant)
Airman Leadership School class 18-6 “dress” to their right before a blues inspection at Barksdale Air Force Base, La., Aug. 2, 2018. (U.S. Air Force photo/Philip Bryant)

ABOARD A C-37 MILITARY AIRCRAFT -- In line with a months-long effort to redesign gear, flight suits and other ill-fitting equipment worn by female airmen, the U.S. Air Force is now working on a solution to make better dress blue shirts and pants for daily wear, according to the service's top enlisted airman.

"Our priority right now is female uniforms," Chief Master Sergeant of the Air Force Kaleth O. Wright told Military.com Wednesday. Military.com accompanied Wright and Chief of Staff Gen. David Goldfein on a trip to Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, New Jersey.

"Probably within the last year or so, we've been doing some wear tests with the female service uniform -- different styles of shirts, different pants with some of the adjustments that our [uniform] team and the Air Force have asked for," Wright said.

The goal is to get a more practical shirt/pants combination that doesn't bunch, pinch or need as much tailoring. Wright said he hopes the teams have a solution "soon, and then we can start implementing some of the changes that will be more comfortable or functional for females."

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"It's not necessarily the way that it is designed, or the way it looks; these are things centered around how they fit," he said.

For formal mess dress, women have also been given the option to wear dress slacks more often instead of the A-line skirt that accompanies that uniform, Wright said.

Separately, the Air Force is also looking at a new physical fitness uniform; Wright said he has seen a few prototypes that he likes.

Last year, the service began looking at alternatives to give airmen more modern and form-fitting clothing options for PT. A few mockups were featured in a leaked presentation posted on the Facebook page Air Force Amn/Nco/Snco and showed a sleeker design. Wright separately told Air Force Times last fall that teams were working on PT options that could include a "moisture-wicking fabric" to absorb sweat in harsh environments.

"The biggest thing for those uniforms is the material that will be closer to what you would get at [a sporting goods store]," Wright said Wednesday.

But "there's still a little bit of work to be done with those."

-- Oriana Pawlyk can be reached at oriana.pawlyk@military.com. Follow her on Twitter at @oriana0214.

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