Without a doubt, the Marine Corps Dress Blues uniform is the best-looking military uniform in the United States Armed Forces. There is no other uniform that even rivals dress blues in look, class, and prestige. Unsurprisingly, I often get questions about the different Marine uniforms; especially the Marine Corps dress blues, from both men and women who are considering enlisting into the Marine Corps.

So, with this article, I’ll answer your most popular questions about the slickest of military uniforms. (update check)

When Can Marines Wear Dress Blues?

In the military, there is something called the “uniform of the day.” This is simply the uniform that the supervisor of the base has deemed appropriate based on the time of year, date, day of the week, and temperature. To be totally honest, I don’t know what causes commanders to choose one uniform versus another in certain instances, but there’s likely some military history that I’m not aware of that is dictating their choice. That said, if you are attending an official base function you are required to wear the uniform of the day for that day. And very rarely is that dress blues. It is typically “Service Charlies” (olive green pants/short-sleeved khaki shirt) or “Deltas” (blue pants/short-sleeved khaki shirt) in the summer months or “Service Alphas” (olive green pants/long-sleeved khaki shirt/tie/olive green coat and belt) or “Service Bravos” (olive green pants/long-sleeved khaki shirt/tie).

As someone who was in the Marine Corps Band (and yes, I went to regular Marine Boot Camp), I think that the uniform of the day affected me and my unit more than most. The Band was front and center during every ceremony so it was essential that we were in the correct uniform. Also, because the uniform of the day tended to change seemingly at random, we had to ensure that we had access to every uniform at a moment’s notice just in case. There were multiple times when we’d be fully dressed and in formation ready to head to perform in a graduation and we’d get a call that the uniform of the day had changed completely. That is rough.

Only occasionally do Marines wear the dress blues as the uniform of the day. However, one ceremony that always requires dress blues is a Marine Corps Birthday Ball. This is a large ceremony held yearly near the time of the Marine Corps Birthday (Nov. 10, 1775). There are also some random special occasions like a base general’s Change of Command ceremony in which he/she may request that the uniform of the day be dress blues. That usually occurs when it is 99 degrees out and the general is long-winded. It is brutal, but it definitely happens.

The last major reason for which Marines will typically wear dress blues is when they are off-base representing the Marine Corps as a whole, for example in large recruiting events, as the dress blues is the most impressive and representative of the Marines’ uniforms.

Dress blues (in the configuration that most outsiders understand them) can technically be worn either on-base or off-base without a ton of restrictions. Very few Marines will wear their dress blues just “for fun” though, as they are not terribly comfortable, are hot, and draw a ton of attention. At first, you think it is amazing when people stare at you in uniform. It quickly gets old, though, because you cannot blend into any crowd if you’re wearing dress blues.

Camouflage utilities, on the other hand, cannot be worn off base. “Cammies” are used on military installations only and that is why you should never see a Marine in public wearing cammies. So, if you see a military person wearing cammies at Walmart, then they’re either Army, Navy, Air Force, or totally out of Marine Corps regulation. It just shouldn’t happen.