That dream will soon be a reality, as new uniform updates this year call for crackerjacks and Dixie for both male and female junior enlisted, plus choker whites and combination covers for every officer.
"Not only do we not like the fact that they're changing the uniforms to make us all look like men, it's also the cost," said an O-5 helicopter pilot, who asked to remain anonymous to criticize the Navy's initiative.
Some also point out that they've been asking for an update to their khakis pants for years, to no avail. The Chief of Naval Personnel's office is working on that, a spokesman confirmed, though it is years out.
For now, the only thing changing is the dress whites.
"All the ones I talked to said they hated it," an O-5 helicopter pilot told Navy Times.
Officers are required by law to foot the bill for their uniforms, following a one-time stipend at the beginning of their careers, CNP spokesman Lt. Cmdr. Nate Christensen said.
"We appreciate the concerns of sailors regarding uniform changes, but being in uniform, means being uniform in appearance," he said. "The most recent changes to Navy uniforms send a signal that the Navy is one team, has one standard, and is one in dress."
Christensen also said the service was developing a new khaki trouser design that's likely a few years away from fielding.
That softens the blow a bit, the helicopter pilot said, but is almost beside the point: She and other women, she said, feel that though the uniform changes are designed to create a more inclusive environment for women like her, they end up singling them out anyway.
"The one thing that we have been harping on for 10 years, that I know of, is to fix our damn pants," she said. "It's the one thing that gets overlooked, and we wear that uniform every single day."
Once a design is decided on, it can take years to test and field new uniform items. So far, according to a Navy official who was not authorized to speak on the record, CNP's office has evaluated one proposed design.
'An attitude thing'
The Navy's push to a single dress uniform style is part of a larger effort to foster respect and equality between the genders, Mabus told Navy Times in a September interview.
"It's not to get women to wear men's uniforms, but I do think uniforms used to segregate women, and they're an historical accident, because women couldn't join the Navy or the Marine Corps," he said. "They joined the auxiliary, and they were given different uniforms to indicate that they weren't full sailors or Marines."
But for women who have spent their careers trying to prove themselves as outstanding officers while owning their gender, and who feel a kinship with the Women Accepted for Volunteer Emergency Service and the uniforms they once wore, it feels like a step back.
"It's not gender neutrality to us," said the helicopter pilot. "It's, 'You'll dress like a man.' "
The service has also moved to eliminate a number of female-specific uniform styles and accessories, including the beret, tiara and dress cape.
"Every time I've ever been harassed or inappropriately touched, it was not because of what I was wearing," she said.
For her, it comes down to equal consideration by the men who run the uniform board and beyond.
"I get that they don't see it because it doesn't affect them, but we don't get thought of, and it's more of an attitude thing," she said. "Sexual assault is out there, sexual harassment is out there, yes. But on a day-to-day basis, the 'You don't think about how this affects me,' is more of the discrimination that I think most of them see."
Meghann Myers is the Pentagon bureau chief at Military Times. She covers operations, policy, personnel, leadership and other issues affecting service members. Follow on Twitter @Meghann_MT