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Which Military Branch Has the Best Uniforms?

Combat uniforms from left to right: Army, Marine Corps, Navy, Coast Guard, Air Force.

This is a bare-bones comparison of basic military uniforms. Without going into all the different combinations of dinner dress uniforms, ceremonial uniforms, PT uniforms or badges. As always, there are variations between uniforms for enlisted members and Officers.

We’ll be going over these three main types of military uniforms:

  • Utility/combat uniforms
  • Service uniforms
  • Dress blues

Which branch has the most effective and best-looking uniforms? Can military uniforms be both attractive, professional and effective? Judge for yourself and let us know.



ACU (Army Combat Uniform)  

The Army has been transitioning from UCP (Universal Camouflage Pattern) to OCP (Operational Camouflage Pattern), which will become effective Oct. 1, 2019. OCP incorporates six colors and is supposed to blend in better with various natural environments.

The Army’s gradual transition from digi-camo, to UCP, then finally to OCP. Credit: Soldier Systems.

Army Dress Blues

Featuring a black coat with gold trim, blue pants/skirt with gold trim, white undershirt with black tie, black dress shoes and appropriate formal headwear.

Full-body Army dress blues. Credit: Pinterest.

Army Greens Uniform

A new Greens Uniform will be available April 2020 and issued after AIT in July 2020, to honor Army heritage from the “Greatest Generation”.

The new “pinks and greens” uniform. Credit: Army Times.



NWU (Navy Working Uniform)

This everyday uniform is a sea-blue digi-camo outfit. Sailors can also wear the NWU III (kelp-green digi-camo) or coveralls (Navy blue jumpsuit) for physical work.

Master Chief Petty Officer Rick West dressed in an NWU III, with sailors behind him in standard NWUs. Credit: US Naval Institute Blog.

SU (Navy Service Uniform)

Featuring a khaki shirt, black pants, black belt with silver clip and buckle, black garrison cap, black dress shoes, white undershirt and undershorts.

Example of the Navy SU. Credit: Military Machine.

Navy Dress Blues  

The military equivalent of civilian formalwear. Black overcoat with black ascot (for enlisted – tie for Officers), white undershirt, black pants and white Navy headwear.

Navy dress blues for enlisted. Credit: Military Machine.


Air Force

ABU (Airman Battle Uniform)

ABUs will be changing to OCPs (Operational Camouflage Pattern) by April 1, 2021. While OCPs have been in use in the Air Force for nearly a decade, they are getting rid of ABUs to create a more uniform look across the Air Force. OCPs have six colors and smooth lines, blending in better to different environments, while ABUs only have four colors and are a pixelated camo.

The ABU (left) as compared to the new OCP (right). Credit: Reddit.

Air Force Dress Blues

Featuring a solid blue dress coat and pants, white undershirt with black tie, black dress shoes and appropriate formal headwear.

Air Force dress blues. Credit: Hanscom Air Force Base –


Marine Corps

Cammies (Marine Corps Combat Utility Uniforms)

The standard uniform in combat, during training or while deployed overseas. Features a distinctive brown, green and black camo pattern. White and grey patterned cammies are made for cold weather environments, and tan and brown ones for a desert environment.

Woodland cammies vs. desert cammies. Credit: Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton.

Marine Corps Dress Blues  

Probably the most recognizable dress blues across the service branches. They feature a black dress coat with red trim and gold buttons, a white belt with the eagle, globe and anchor serving as the buckle, the distinctive, visor-like white cap with black bill, white gloves, blue trousers and black dress shoes.

A blood red stripe down the side of the blue trousers is a tribute to fallen Marine brothers and sisters. Credit: Pinterest.

Marine Corps Service Dress Uniform  

A dull green dress coat and pants with beige undershirt and tie.

The enlisted USMC service dress uniform. Credit: The Salute Uniforms.


Coast Guard

ODU (Operational Dress Uniform)

Everyday working wear. It features a short-sleeve Navy blue shirt, fatigues, informal headwear, black shoes, all with white writing.

A group of Coast Guard members in their ODUs. Credit: Diigo Groups.

Coast Guard Service Uniform  

There are two main kinds: tropical blue, and winter dress blue. Tropical blue features a light blue, short-sleeve shirt with dark blue trousers. Winter dress blue features a Navy blue, long-sleeve shirt and tie with trousers of the same color. Black belt on both.

military uniforms
Winter dress blue (left) and tropical blue (right). Credit:

Coast Guard Dress Blues  

Featuring a navy blue dress coat with gold buttons and decoration, navy trousers, white undershirt, navy tie, signature visor-like white cap with a navy blue band and black bill.

Service dress blues for the USCG. Credit: DVIDS.

How do you feel about the switch to OCP? And is there a specific uniform you wish you could wear?


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