Marines Can Have Longer Hair, Wear Different Color Socks Under New Uniform Changes

A U.S. Marine changes his socks after a hike.
A U.S. Marine changes his socks after a hike during Mountain Training Exercise 2-17 at the Marine Corps Mountain Warfare Training Center, Bridgeport, Calif., Feb. 25, 2017. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Danny Gonzalez)

Longer hair, more nail color options, and allowing different color socks to be worn with utility uniforms top a list of uniform changes the Marine Corps announced Wednesday.

According to a statement from the Corps announcing the changes, the goal is to "positively impact diversity, equity, and inclusion."

Perhaps the biggest change for all Marines is an increase in the "bulk of hair" limit. The new regulation allows Marines to have three inches of hair instead of the previous two. In addition, male Marines will now be allowed to "edge up" or trim back hair so it forms a neater line in their haircuts.

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The new regulation also allows Marines to wear black, olive drab, Marine camouflage or coyote brown-colored helmet caps in some circumstances. The regulation says they "may be worn underneath the helmet and may be worn as an outer garment for short periods when the helmet is removed, per the Commander's discretion."

The message stressed that these caps "will not be worn in lieu of the [utility uniform] caps."

One major change for hair standards that is not included in the updated regulations is the ability to wear a ponytail in uniform. The Marine Corps is the only branch that does not allow women to wear the hairstyle in regular uniform. Currently, female Marines are allowed a "half ponytail" only while working out.

However, the updates include several regulation changes aimed at women, including more fingernail polish options. Specifically, women will now be allowed to wear ombre-style nail polish in addition to natural and nude colors in all uniforms.

The message also makes official the option of better-fitting maternity uniform items, including shirts that have side tabs and an undershirt designed for nursing. These items were rolled out last April, but the regulation change now makes their wear official. The announcement comes only days after the Marine Corps also announced a new pilot program that aims to loan Marine officers service maternity uniforms for free.

Finally, the message also announced that Marines with special characters in their names will be allowed to have them reflected on their utility uniform name tapes, and Marines will be able to wear olive drab- or black-colored socks with their utilities in addition to the regular coyote brown.

-- Konstantin Toropin can be reached at Follow him on Twitter @ktoropin.

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