No surprise here: The Marines are sticklers for tradition and they have decided that the male version of their dress and service cap should become the universal hat for both male and female Marines.
The Marines created a stir last month when word got out that they were considering a unisex cap. The Marine Corps Uniform Board, comprised of non-commissioned officers and officers, had proposed switching to the cap because the manufacturer of the current “bucket cover” worn by female Marines since 1952 would no longer be making the cap.
The board proposed having all Marines wear the current cap worn by all male Marines or switching to a new smaller and thinner cap referred to as the Dan Daly cap in honor of the two-time Medal of Honor recipient who served in the Marine Corps near the end of the 19th century and early part of the 20th century. Photos of Daly show him wearing the cap, which resembled the Kepi style hat worn by the French military. This version of the Marine dress hat was the Marine’s standard headgear until 1922.
In late October, the Uniform Board sent a survey to all active duty Marines asking which hat they preferred. An overwhelming 91 percent of all Marines, male and female, preferred going to the current male cap. On Friday the Marine Corps announced that Gen. James Amos, the commandant, had decided everybody would be wearing the male cap.
It remains to be seen when the switch will take place. There’s still some research that needs to be done on future adjustments to the male version to improve comfort and fit.
Switching to a single cover for male and female Marines will also save the Corps an estimated $600,000 in production costs. About 6 percent of the 195,000 Marines in active duty are women.
It was clear from responses posted on the internet that the Dan Daly cap was never popular. One member of the Uniform Board likened it to “a porter’s’ cap.”
The Navy is also currently testing a switch to a unisex hat. For the past year female midshipmen at the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Md., and members of the Navy’s Ceremonial Guard and the Navy band have been wearing the male cap. As of this writing, no new caps have been proposed.