Chima Uwazie, left, congratulates Eric Viscardi, right, Class of 2015 during the Graduation/Commissioning Ceremony at the United States Naval Academy on Friday May 22, 2015. (Alan Lessig/Staff)
The Naval Academy's class of 2016 has seen a lot of uniform changes rapid change in uniforms since their first day of plebe year. And when they walk across the stage in May, the women's apparel will look literally nothing like the ones who came four years before them.
First came the men's-style combination cover in 2013, then the mandarin-collar dress jacket in 2015, and this year for the first time, women will be required to wear pants with their graduation outfitsuniforms.
The change came from both Navy Academy and Navy Department of the Navy leadership, Naval Academy spokesman Cmdr. John Schofield told Navy Times on Wednesday.
The update is the final step in an initiative by Navy Secretary Ray Mabus to standardize men's and women's dress uniforms at the academy and in the fleet. specifically at the academy, but also fleet-wide. Mabus has often spoke of seeing Army cadets and Navy mids walk onto the field at his first Army-Navy game and noting that while the cadets wore the same uniforms, mids were separated by gender.
Once commissioned, the 266 women of the class of 2016 will be able to wear their dress uniforms with skirts, but on May 20, pants will be the uniform of the day, Schofield said.
"The Naval Academy employs several uniforms and uniform wear policies that mandate the same uniform for men and women," he said. "Most notably, men and women at USNA wear identical class uniforms, Navy Working Uniform and Parade Dress uniform."
The push toward a common style of white dress uniform at the academy and throughout the fleet has rubbed some sailors the wrong way, how ever.
Women at 2014's commencement ceremony were excited to end the common cover wear test and buy traditional bucket hats, though the requirement of the round combination cover went fleet-wide in 2015.
And when the requirement for all women to buy choker whites also went live, some complained that they appreciated looking different in their dress uniforms.
Despite no public proof that Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy Russell Smith ever uttered such an edict, "lower your standards" has become an online rallying cry in recent weeks for those disillusioned with Navy life.