Navy updates uniform, grooming policy

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PORTSMOUTH, V.A. (WAVY) — On Tuesday, the Navy announced updates to their uniform policy and grooming standards in an effort to eliminate inconsistencies and outdated policies.

“Navy uniform policy updates are the result of Fleet feedback, uniform working group discussions, command sponsored requests and direction from Navy leadership,” wrote Vice Adm. John B. Nowell, Jr., chief of naval personnel, in a message.

The changes include how sailors can wear their hair, as well as other visual cues including how accented names will be displayed on uniforms and badges.

Men can choose from sanctioned styles now include bald, flat tops, faded or high and tight hairstyles. Their hair must include squared or rounded gradual tapers in the back of the head, but cannot feature sideburns that are longer than the hair length of the haircut where the sideburns and side of the head intersect. 

Women, meanwhile, are allowed to wear their hair short enough to show the scalp. They can have one hard part that may be cut, shaved, clipped or naturally placed into the scalp. It can’t be higher than the crown but have to be above the hard part.

“This gives women more options for greater ease on hair care, especially while on deployment when longer styles can be tougher to maintain,” said Rob Carroll, head of uniform matters on the staff of the chief of naval personnel. “Female Sailors have been asking for this flexibility.”

Female sailors can also wear pumps up to three inches in height.

In addition, men are now able to wear earrings while they are in civilian clothes in a leave or liberty status both on and off military installations or while using government transportation. However, they will not be allowed when performing official duties in civilian attire.

Sailors whose legal names contain accents and/or punctuation marks can now use them in name tags, name patches, or name tapes on Navy uniforms. 

The updates also extend to prescription glasses, as well a sunglasses. Those who wear glasses must have frames that are silver, gray, black, navy blue, brown or gold. They can, however, be transparent or translucent.

“There are just so many options available today for glasses and we needed to get some standardization of appearance in uniform,” Carroll added. “This change allows for a wide variety of options, ease of compliance and enforcement as well as maintaining a professional military appearance.”

Sunglasses can also be green and feature small logos.

Carroll says many of the changes came from feedback from sailors, some of which were during Task Force One Navy listening sessions.

He believes the policy changes will help modernize the Navy’s image.

“The policy changes are definitely, for sure, expanding, if you will, what sailors consider outdated policies,” Carroll said. “They’re pretty much in line with what we call ‘Sailor 2025,’ which is an initiative where we’re trying to attract and bring the best talent we can. We’re doing that through our ability to be a little more flexible in our policies and updating our policies.”

The Navy says the changes were also implemented to help eliminate subjectivity. Carroll says it aligns with their DEI initiative as well.

For a full list of updates and requirements, visit the Navy’s uniform website.

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