Dress, appearance reminders for inspection

  • Published
  • By Linda Capozzoli
  • 341st Force Support Squadron
I experienced more than 20 major inspections during my 23 years on active duty, such as the one headed our way at the end of the month. Back in my day, our footwear required spit shines, our uniforms required definite creases and all awarded badges, patches, and awards and decorations were mandatory each day. That shiny belt buckle could have absolutely no visible scratches. Our personal grooming, both men and women, had to be above and beyond the minimum standard as expressed in the Dress and Personal Appearance Regulation, Air Force Regulation 35-10. 

During the inspection, and every day, members of Team Malmstrom are expected to maintain the highest levels of military bearing and traditional military customs and courtesies during the entire inspection. 

Flash forward to 2008, Dress and Personal Appearance, Air Force Instruction 36-2903 (even the number changed). Allow me to review the uniform and personal grooming standards that are in effect as of September 2008: 

The Airman Battle Uniform (per Sept. 7, 2007 policy message from Air Force Personnel Center headquarters as supplemented by Jan. 11 and June 12, messages authorizing mixing of Battle Dress Uniform and Airman Battle Uniform for cold weather areas):

Shirt, trouser, patrol cap, sand colored T-shirt, desert sand colored rigger belt, sage green boot socks and sage green suede boots (desert tan suede boots are authorized until November 2011). T-shirts are crew neck. 

ABU sage green boots are authorized with all utility uniforms - ABU, BDU and Desert Camouflage Uniform. 

No organizational caps are authorized except RED HORSE Units and berets by security forces. 

Rank placement identical to BDU and DCU for ABU rank and badges, name and U.S. Air Force tapes. Subdued metal rank only for officers, sewn on cloth rank authorized for all. 

Trousers are to be bloused in the same manner as BDU. 

Aeronautical, Chaplain, occupational badges and required duty shields are authorized; however, occupational badges are optional. All other badges are not authorized, and there is a three badge maximum. No badge, patch or insignia are authorized on the right pocket. 

No patches or command insignia are authorized. 

Backpacks, briefcases, hydration systems and gym bags should be black or sage green. ABU patterned items authorized as available. 

APECS with fleece liners (black or sage green) for cold weather (liners are not outerwear). The BDU Gortex are authorized when APECS are not available (extension to May 1, 2009). Officers can wear subdued pin-on rank on APECS. 

Personal grooming standards have not changed much after all of the years (reference: AFI 36-2903, Table 1.5), and hair must still be clean, well-groomed and neat. Fingernails must be clean and well-groomed, too, and the length, for men and women, will not exceed one-fourth inch past the finger tip. 

Like hair styles, nail length cannot interfere with duty performance or hinder the proper fit of uniform items, such as headgear or safety equipment. A few basics reminders: 

Men's hair will have a tapered appearance on side and back. The bulk for men's hair will not exceed one and one-fourth inch. Sideburns still must be neatly trimmed and tapered, straight, even and horizontal to the ground. Mustache rules remain the same. The newer authorization for men's hair now includes cleanly shaven, military high-and-tight or flat top haircuts. 

Women's hair standards also remained constant over the years and style must present a professional appearance and cannot extend below any side of an invisible line drawn parallel to the ground at the bottom edge of the shirt collar, regardless of overall length and cannot exceed three inches in bulk. Bangs will not touch the eyebrows. 

Newcomers to the authorized women's hairstyle include braids, micro-braids and cornrows. 

Nail polish and lipstick choices have always presented opportunities for debate. Nail polish and lipstick colors must be a single skin-tone-complimenting color. This means, no purples, or fire-engine reds, no decorations such as snowflakes during the winter season, a diamond on a single nail, arch-backed cats at Halloween time. New to the scene: French manicures are now authorized. 

Refer to AFI 36-2903 for more in-depth information or call me at 731-2911.