Service and Dress Uniform
The basic wardrobe for the Marine Corps Women's
Reserve was chosen in December 1942. Garment color and styling was based
on the concept that female attire must reflect the same basic Marine Corps
coloration and style to be worn by all Marines. The first complete
uniform regulations, including explanatory sketches, were issued in August
1943. Numerous minor changes, modifications and additions were posted
until revised regulations were reissued in April 1945. These remained virtually
unchanged throughout the remainder of the war and immediate postwar period.
|Service uniforms for female personnel were
not initially issued to women Marines. One reason was that appreciable
quantities of uniforms could not be provided before April 1943. Therefore,
enlisted women received a monetary allowance of $200 and officers $250.
With this money, women were expected to purchase two winter uniforms, hats,
shoes, summer outfits, a purse, wool-lined raincoat, specific accessories,
and undergarments. A system was initially established whereby uniforms,
manufactured by various firms, were sold in uniform shops run by the post
exchanges at selected Marine Corps installations.
Unfortunately, this system of using civilian
suppliers proved unsatisfactory. High prices and quality assurance problems
resulted from uneven retail practices outside government control. There
were constant shortages and general dissatisfaction. For example, some
women refused to pay for uniforms having defects of any kind. Therefore,
several changes in procurement and distribution were instituted during
1944 and 1945.
||The Marine Corps terminated all retail agreements
and relieved the post-exchange system of responsibility for uniforms. Several
women Marine officers were detailed as inspectors to supervise the work
of private manufacturers and facilitate satisfactory contractual completion.
Nevertheless, many problems continued to adversely affect clothing supply
for the Marine Corps Women's Reserve, and were never resolved before the
Winter Service Uniform
|In keeping with the basic Marine Corps design
premise, the winter service uniform for female personnel incorporated as
many features as possible from the male Marine uniform. Traditional Marine
forest green was continued as coloration, and this uniform was known as
the “greens”. The jackets had the same pointed cuffs, curved back seams
Female noncommissioned officers wore the same
scarlet chevrons as their male counterparts.
At the same time, the uniform preserved the
attractive tailored feminine appearance popular during the war years. The
fitted jacket featured slightly exaggerated shoulders, slash top pockets
and welt hip pockets. The six-gore skirt reached to fashionable length
just below the kneecap. Serge material or covert fabric was more lightweight
than that used for male uniforms.
The winter service uniform was worn with khaki
shirt and khaki tie.
It was worn with dark brown accessories, such
as brown shoes, brown gloves and brown handbag.
Winter Service Uniform
Unlike male Marines, there was little difference
in the style and fabric of uniforms worn by female officers and enlisted
female personnel. Differences in grade were only recognizable by the actual
rank insignia and distinguishing cap device.
Noncommissioned officers wore green
chevrons of rank on their shirt whenever the shirt was worn without the
Slacks were mandated by some job
requirements. The slacks were made of the same material as the winter service
uniform. They were pleated at the waist, had one side pocket on the right
and were zipper-fastened. The front creases of the legs were stitched for
a permanently creased appearance that was considered militarily desirable
Officer's metallic rank insignia was pinned
on epaulets and shirt collar. Noncommissioned officers wore green chevrons
on scarlet-colored cloth on both sleeves. For dress occasions, female officers
(but not enlisted women) were allowed to wear a white shirt with dark green
tie instead of the khaki necktie.
Summer Service Uniform
|The summer uniform was initially
made of green and white striped plisse crepe, but replaced by green and
white striped cotton seersucker shortly thereafter. The seersucker material
was chosen both for comfort and ease of laundering.
The summer service uniform had a fitted jacket
with short sleeves, notched lapels, epaulets and four pockets with curved
flaps. The jacket was closed with five buttons.
While the early versions had plain white plastic
buttons, latter summer service uniforms were equipped with green plastic
buttons embossed with the Marine Corps eagle and anchor emblem.
Initially, the light green cotton fatigue hat
(“Daisy Mae” hat) and bronze insignia was worn with the summer service
uniform. Later, the fatigue hat was replaced by the visored light green
cap. Additionally, a light green garrison cap which was introduced sometime
later could be worn.
First version with plain
Later version with green
||Brown or white shoes, white gloves and a handbag
with light green cover completed the outfit. When worn with white punps,
the brass insiginia was used.
Summer Seersucker Uniform
worn with the white trimmed light green garrison cap. The sleeve chevrons
for noncommissioned officers were green on a white background.
||Because it was difficult to recognize officer
rank insignia on the striped material, officers added detachable green
shoulder tabs to the epaulets. These were fastened by the shoulder
tab button and the rank insignia.
The Marine Corps cap devices for officers,
worn on the service cap and collar, were gold and silver.
Summer Dress Uniform
||During the summer, a white uniform could be
worn on dress occasions. While the white dress uniform was optional for
enlisted women, it was a mandatory part of the officers’ wardrobe.
The white uniform was fashioned exactly like
the seersucker service uniform, but fastened with gilt Marine Corps buttons.
It was always worn with the visored cap.
White pumps, white gloves and the handbag with
light green cover completed the outfit.
The belted and double breasted utility coat
worn over the "greens" (winter service uniform) was made of light green
poplin. A removable parka and fleece interlining was incorporated for cold
and wet weather.
A muffler in traditional "Marine scarlet" color
(matching the color of the cap cord and the chevrons) completed the outfit.
When the utility coat was worn in the summer,
a white rayon muffler replaced the red one.
The coat could be closed high for more protection
during inclement weather. The hood was designed large enough to fit easily
over the service cap.
Front view with hood
Back view with detachable parka hood
Women Marine officers were permitted the option
of an extra coat for severe cold conditions. It was forest green and patterned
after the male version to harmonize Marine uniform appearance. It was double
breasted with square shoulders, notched lapels, flap pockets and pointed
cuffs. Later in the war, enlisted women were also authorized to wear this
type of optional greatcoat.