The ABCs of Cadet Uniforms
While in the corps, members follow strict guidelines on clothing and grooming
By Hannah Falcon & Kathryn Whitlock
The Texas A&M Corps of Cadets is the oldest student organization on campus, and as a military-style organization, numerous uniforms are issued to each cadet. Various versions of the daily, field and dress uniforms are tailored to suit summer and winter, and the uniforms consist of headgear, shirts, pants, jackets, footwear and belts.
Since its inception, the Corps of Cadets’ uniforms have changed with the style of the U.S. Army’s uniforms. The idea was that cadets would save money when they graduated by already owning the uniform they would need when enlisting. Around World War I, the “doughboy” uniforms — forest green pants and jackets with large round buttons down the chest — were worn both within the armed forces and at A&M. At the time of World War II, “pinks” and “greens” were the style in the armed forces. The Corps started wearing pinks and greens at this time and has continued ever since. “Pinks” refers to the khaki color of their pants, and “greens” refers to their olive colored jackets which are adorned with pins and ribbons. This uniform is coming back into style in the army as well.
At the time of the World War I doughboy uniforms, cadets were required to wrap up the calves of their trousers everyday. This task was tedious and cumbersome, but some cadets noticed that officers in the armed forces would wear calf-high boots instead of wrapping them. Thus, senior boots were created as a privilege for senior cadets, who then got to skip the daily calf wrapping.
While early senior boots were lace-up, today’s cadets wear a taller, laceless style. Senior boots are custom made to fit a cadet’s feet by Holick’s, a shop founded by original Fightin’ Texas Aggie Band leader Joseph Holick. Cadets order their boots during freshman year and wait four years to receive this rite of passage.
According to a Battalion article from 2015, earning the Corps Brass is highly significant for a freshman as it represents the Corps of Cadets’ goal of producing exceptional military officers and statesmen. The insignia is worn on a cadet’s left collar.
According to uniform regulations, the Cadet’s brass and ranking should remain shined and free of polish buildup. Only Drum Majors have chromed brass. Dull or damaged brass is not allowed.
All Corps brass is worn with the knight’s head facing in on the Class A Blouse or forward on the uniform shirts. Worn brass will be replaced.
Engraved brass is authorized for seniors, and the engraving must relate to the individual’s outfit and be free from offensive material. The engraved brass must be approved by the Major Unit Cadet Training Officer through the Major Unit Inspector General.
Cadets wear ribbons on their chests to signify their outfits and achievements. The ribbons are distinguished by color and the pattern of the stripes. Ribbons can also set apart members of special groups, such as the Parsons Mounted Cavalry’s plain orange, the Ross Volunteers’ yellow with one thick white stripe in the middle and the yell leaders’ white with three skinny maroon stripes.
One notable group that can be distinguished by ribbons and belts is the Fish Drill Team. They are set aside by their ribbons’ maroon and white slanted stripes, their white belts and chrome brass in performance uniforms. While chrome brass is typically only worn by Drum Majors, the Fish Drill Team dons them for performances.
Cadets’ ribbons also show off awards such as honor roll, distinguished humanitarian, life saving and best in major unit. Ribbons and medals are not worn together.
As an optional senior uniform for formal occasions that is the equivalent to a tuxedo, the male’s Class AA Uniform consists of a green dress blouse, pink trousers or boot pants, white dress shirt, a black bow tie, a service cap, senior belt/buckle and black low quarter shoes with black socks or senior boots. Only medals are worn with this uniform.
Class A Uniform
Also known as A’s, these uniforms are worn to special occasions such as Muster or Silver Taps. Freshman Mark Hill, photographed by Cassie Stricker.
Worn at formal Corps events and special occasions, the Class A Uniform consists of the green dress blouse, the poplin shirt, a black necktie, a service cap, class belt/buckle and black low quarter shoes with black socks or senior boots. Again, only medals are worn with this uniform.
Prescribed as the Uniform of the Day when the U.S. is not in Daylight Saving Time, the Class B Winter uniform is worn at the direction of the Corps Commander. It consists of pink trousers or pink boot pants, a short sleeve gabardine shirt, a pink garrison cap, class belt/buckle, black low quarter shoes with black socks or senior boots, and all authorized ribbons.
Class B Uniform
Also known as Bravos, these uniforms are the everyday uniform of the cadet. Freshman Mark Hill, photographed by Cassie Stricker.
The Class B Summer Uniform consists of the gabardine trousers or boot pants, a short sleeve gabardine shirt, gabardine garrison cap, appropriate belt buckle, black low quarter shoes with black socks or senior boots and all authorized ribbons.
Authorized to be worn by juniors and seniors at special occasions and civilian casual events, the Midnight uniform consists of pink trousers or boot pants, a long sleeve midnight shirt, a khaki tie, a service or pink garrison cap, class belt/buckle, black low quarter shoes with black socks or senior boots and authorized ribbons. Medals, at the direction of the Corps commander, or ribbons can be worn with this uniform.
The most notable difference between male and female uniforms is that female cadets have the option of wearing a skirt with panty hose and pumps. Every variation of a cadet uniform has a skirt option for females. However, seniors must wear trousers with their boots.
All Cadet Uniforms
The Class C Uniform is worn for inclement weather, field training and to “wet” labs – where various chemicals and hazards may be encountered. It consists of the Army Combat Uniform (ACU) blouse, trousers, cap, utility belt and service-authorized boots with green or black socks.
Class C Uniform
Also known as ACU’s, these uniforms are worn to certain classes such as chemical labs or during inclement weather. Senior Matthew Hill, photographed by Cassie Stricker.
The Physical Training (PT) Uniform is worn while doing physical training exercises. It consists of the approved outfit PT shorts and top or issued Corps PT shirt and shorts, short white socks, short black socks, or long calf high white socks and appropriate athletic shoes. If sweat pants are worn, then the sweat top or unit must also be worn. Female cadets can wear their hair in a ponytail as part of the uniform but cannot wear earrings.
Worn to Midnight Yell by the junior class and for other occasions or training, the Cs & Ts uniform consists of ACU trousers, approved outfit physical training t-shirt or Corps PT uniform t-shirt, ACU cap, class belt with buckle or utility belt and service-authorized boots with green or black socks.
The Midnight uniform is often worn for occasions such as job interviews. It is a Junior and Senior privilege to wear Midnights. Senior Matthew Hill, photographed by Cassie Stricker.
Civilian attire can be worn off campus at any time and on campus as prescribed. No cadet can be prohibited from wearing civilian attire of their choosing when authorized. Freshman may be required to tuck in their shirts while on the Quad or dorm. No class of cadet is required to wear civilian attire not of their choosing. According to regulations, if a cadet has to ask if an outfit is appropriate, then the cadet should assume it is not. Appropriate civilian attire is authorized for class on campus and other activities when a cadet has a documented medical chit that doesn’t allow the uniform to be worn.
Men’s hair will be neat and closely trimmed with no eccentric wearing of body hair. The edges will be clipped at the side and back but has to be evenly graduated around the head from no length at the hairline on the lower portion of the head to the upper portion of the head. The hairline will be tapered from “0” regardless of class.
As Cadets gain seniority, they are allowed to grow their hair progressively longer. First semester freshman have significantly shorter hair with a maximum length of 0.25 inches in comparison to seniors who are allowed a maximum length of two inches.
Shaved heads and other extreme hairstyles are prohibited unless approved by the Major Unit IG. The hair can not interfere with the proper wear of uniform and must conform to the natural shape of the head. Mohawks, unnatural balding, unnatural single patches of hair, asymmetrical styles, etchings, braids, locks and twists are not allowed. Dyes, bleaches, frostings and tints are allowed if they are natural colorings and they must compliment the cadets skin tone.
Sideburns can not extend below the top orifice of the ear, cannot taper, flare or come to a point, and cannot exceed ⅛” when fully extended. The cadet must be clean-shaven at all times except for eyebrows and eyelashes unless a skin condition requires otherwise.
Fingernails are to be clean and trimmed and cannot extend past the fingertips. Earrings are not allowed on campus while in uniform or attending a Corps-related function. One ring is allowed per hand but not during band or physical training activities. Necklaces are allowed but can not be visible. Wristwatches and fitness bands are allowed if they are consistent with military appearance.
Women’s hair must be clean and neat and in the female military style while in uniform. The hair cannot fall below the bottom edge of the back of the collar or hang down below the front covering the neck. There must be at least one inch from the scalp on the top of the head and 0.25 inches from the base of the hairline. If the hair is pinned up, it must be styled to prevent loose ends and cannot contain excessive amounts of grooming aid. Hair nets are allowed but must be similar to the hair color. Bangs are allowed but must be neat and not touch the eyebrow. Conspicuous hair ornaments are not allowed.
Women can wear cosmetics and jewelry in Class Bravos or higher, but the cosmetics must be applied conservatively and in good taste. Only black or brown mascara is allowed, and lip liner or lip frosts are prohibited.
Fingernails can not extend more than ¼” past the fingertip, and the polish must compliment the cadets skin tone and be conservative. Natural-looking manicures are authorized.
One set of gold, silver, pearl, or diamond earrings are allowed with Class AA, A, or B and only one per ear. The earring cannot exceed ¼” in diameter and cannot extend below the earlobe. Earrings are not authorized in Class C uniform, physical training gear, or Cs & Ts uniform.
One ring or ring set is permitted per hand but cannot be worn during band or physical training activities. Wristwatches and fitness bands are allowed if they are consistent with military appearance.