Cadet Uniforms Through the Ages at LSU

Courtney Breaux, Tyler Brasseaux, Bryce Segura, William Schneider

Figure 1: Cadets

The ROTC program, and the cadets that participated, as displayed in Figure 1: Cadets, are an intrinsic part of Louisiana State University’s history. From Louisiana State University being a Military Academy to the introduction of the Reserve Officer Training Corps Program, the cadets have always been involved with LSU. The ROTC program was established at LSU in the year 1916, although the school was at one point known as the State Seminary of Learning and Military Academy (Conrad, 182). Until 1969, it was required that all men students at LSU  join the ROTC program (LSU Corps). The ROTC uniforms have strict regulations regarding dress codes. The Cadet Handbooks provide rules and requirements involving the ROTC cadets and Military students required uniforms in different situations and rankings. These requirements had slight alterations and additions over the years, changing the dress of the cadets.

In the year 1881, the required cadet uniform was not immensely specific as compared with later years. The ROTC program was not established. LSU was still a Military Academy. In 1881 there was likely not a vast amount of options for the cadets. In 1881, their everyday wear included blouses and a coat (Cadet Regulations 1881/82).  Within the cadet handbook of 1881-1882, cadets were specified the attire required.  The mandatory clothes for cadets to own included six pairs of gloves, six white shirts, twelve white collars, two black cravats, two sets of white belts, along with other requirements (Cadet Regulations 1881/82). The attire although simplistic, as shown in Figure 2: LSU Cadets on Lawn, was most likely common for the time period. The regulations in 1881 didn’t separate cadet’s dress up by rank as they did in later years. All cadets appeared to be assigned the same dress regulations. Not only was the clothing a part of the uniform, cadet’s hair was an additional component. Short hair was a required part of the cadet’s uniform (Cadet Regulations 1881/82). Members were required to fashion and maintain their hair in a specific style.

cadets on lawn
Figure 2: LSU Cadets on Lawn

The cadets’ uniform in 1926 carried on strict regulations similar to those from 1881. However, a change absent from previous years was cadets’ uniforms were divided into categories. These categories were service uniforms and dress uniforms (Cadet Handbook 1926). Likely as the ROTC program had been established for a growing number of years, requirements and divisions for uniforms had become more elaborate. There were various uniforms for different occasions and settings. Service uniforms included woolen shirts, while dress uniforms had blouses and caps (Cadet Handbook 1926).  Students that were a part of the ROTC program demonstrated a respectable portrayal of the university. Cadets were a representation of LSU and the country. They were required to look presentable as is prominent in their uniforms (Cadet Handbook 1926). Pictured below in Figure 3: Commissioned Officers 1926 , is likely the service uniform, as the ROTC officers are wearing their caps.

commissioned officers
Figure 3: Commissioned Officers 1926

A few years after the end of World War 11 in 1950, expansions in dress code continued. Cadets had different uniforms for the branch or rank they belonged, Advance course or Basic , and additional different uniforms for the Summer and Winter (Cadet Handbook 1950). Figure 4: ROTC Enlisted Men, shows an example of  ROTC cadet uniforms from the 1950s. The difference between the Summer and Winter uniforms was primarily the outfit material. The main components of the Winter uniforms were wool , including pink woolen trousers and Summer uniforms were mostly khaki which included a khaki shirt. (Cadet Handbook 1950). The cadet’s area of service could be identified by certain elements of their uniform. Differences among the Advanced Course Summer Army uniform and the Air Force Summer uniform included Army ties were in the shade 55 and Air Force ties were the shade 84 (Cadet Handbook 1950). Additionally, the Army could wear tan or brown boots, and the Air Force was restricted to Black (Cadet Handbook 1950). Certain emblems were placed in distinct places on the uniform to indicate certain ranks, accomplishments, or the years a cadet served. Insignias was one special variance in uniforms. For example, first year Advanced Course Air-Force cadets wore branch insignia “on left side of collar one inch from end ” (Cadet Handbook 1950). Additionally Gold Service stripes were worn on the right coat sleeve for each year served (Cadet Handbook 1950). Placement of insignia was very important, it disinguished certain accomplishments.

ROTC enlisted men
Figure 4: ROTC Enlisted Men 1950

During the 1970’s the Vietnam War was taking place. In the year 1973 the military draft was called to a halt (Moody). The 1970 iteration of the Cadet Handbook added complexity to the cadet uniforms for both the Army and the Air Force. For the Army, there was the addition of “Classes” to different types of uniforms instead of the previous “Summer” “Winter” dichotomy. The main classes are “A” and “B” with classes “C” and “D” being modifications to the “Class B” uniforms (Cadet Handbook 1970). Class A is the Army Green Uniform and consisted of AG 44 coat and trousers, cap, and garrison (Cadet Handbook 1970).  The cotton shirt is Tan Army Shade 46 with the rest of the uniform being black (Cadet Handbook 1970). Variation in the type of materials the uniform is how the Class B and Class A uniforms differed. Class B is called the Khaki Uniform, correspondingly, the shirt and trousers are khaki (Cadet Handbook 1970).  Previous uniforms did have khaki material, but instead of being designated by class they were separated by season. The cap and garrison are AG 44 with the rest of the uniform being black (Cadet Handbook 1970). The Class C khaki had an additional helmet liner and combat boots (Cadet Handbook 1970).  Class D is the Fatigue Uniform and is described as “Worn with combat boots and head dress as prescribed” (Cadet Handbook 1970). The Air Force cadet Uniforms are split into two categories for the “Professional Officer Course” (POC) cadets and the “General Military Course” (GMC) cadets (Cadet Handbook 1970). The cadet Air Force uniforms common in the 1970s are displayed below in Figure 5: Air Force ROTC Cadets 1970. Each category had two uniforms. The Shade 1549 Blue uniforms are identical for both categories except the GMC cadets wore a flight cap while the POC cadets wore a service hat  (Cadet Handbook 1970). The Shade 1505 uniforms are also identical. The same exceptions apply as with the 1549 Blue uniforms (Cadet Handbook 1970).  Uniforms in the 1970’s had variations among the different military branches. However, these classes were absent in the year 1926. Uniforms in the 1970s appeared to add more divisions among the cadet ranking, thus adding different styling of the uniforms.

Air Force ROTC cadets
Figure 5: Air Force ROTC Cadets

More recent cadet regulations do not only entail  clothing, but also cadets’ personal style. Cadets’ are required to tailor other outer appearance aspects in a certain manner. Some features were included in earlier editions of handbooks, but not to the extent they are now. Not only does female cades’ hair have to be a certain length, but also their makeup must be worn  in a certain manner, to be considered in uniform. To be in proper uniform  “The length and bulk of their hair can not be uncontrolled”  and makeup maybe worn if “It is conservative and complement the uniform” (United States). There is also additional regulations pertaining to female cadets’ wearing  jewelry. For example, females are “not authorized to wear earrings” while in uniform ( United States). Not only do cadets have to be in the right physical uniform they also have to be presentable in other regards. Current cadet regulations specify details like the maintenance of fingernails (United States). Additionally, current female and male cadets are not openly free to wear religious items or jewelry. This is an addition from previous years cadets uniforms. Cadets can wear religious items on a chain, but the item cannot be visible when worn with the service or dress uniforms (United States). These most recent regulations insure that all cadets appear in uniform, but do not allow for much variation for individuals.

The uniforms of the cadets have become more detailed and specific over the years. This could be attributed to the growth of LSU and ROTC programs. As the number of people and branches of the cadets grew, it became necessary to further distinguish cadets based on what they wore. However, one thing that has remained constant from the beginning is how strict the uniforms were in terms of keeping the cadets appearing sharp and adequately groomed. The cadets represent LSU and the country, thus it has always been important for their appearance to represent uniformity and class. This value was carried on through the years and remains today. It is still evident in the uniform regulations remaining for over a century, even as times changed and the dress code of the public became more lenient.

Works Cited

Air Force ROTC Cadets 1970, Gumbo 1970, LSU Digital Commons. Web. 17 April 2018.

Cadets, LSU Digital Library. Web. 11 April 2018.

Cadet Regulations 1881-1882. 1881.

Cadet Handbook 1926. 1926.

Cadet Handbook 1950. 1950.

Cadet Handbook 1970. 1970.

Commissioned Officers 1926 , Gumbo 1926, LSU Digital Commons. Web. 10 April 2018.

Conrad, Judith A., and James C. Hancey, editors. Gumbo 1957. 1957, pp. 182.

LSU Cadets on Lawn, LSU Digital Library. Web. 10 April 2018.

“LSU Corps of Cadets.” Cadets of the Ole War Skule,

Moody, Norman R. “After 40 Years, Return of Military Draft Not in Sight.” USA Today, 23 July 2013, web.

ROTC Enlisted Men 1950, Gumbo 1950, LSU Digital Commons. Web. 10 April 2018.

United States, Army Rotc, U.S Army Cadet Command. Uniform Insignia: Wear and Appearance. 2007, p.6,8,11