When it comes to style and dress code, that is one of the main things that differs from a civilian college and a military college. You won’t find students wearing pajama bottoms or yoga pants at V.M.I. Instead, you’ll see students in clean cut military uniforms. However, we do have different styles of uniforms for the seasons and special occasions.
Here are the different styles of uniforms you will find cadets in throughout the year.
1. Summer Uniform: This uniform is what we wear on a daily basis from when we return to school in August to about the end of November. We also go back to this uniform around March until we leave in May. It is an all-white uniform, unfortunately, with a white blouse, white slacks with a belt, a hat (we call it a cover), and black shoes, and bears a striking resemblance to a milk or ice cream man. This outfit is pretty much our ‘casual’ attire. We wear it to class, into town, and to meals—excluding dinner, but you only wear the cover outside. When it gets colder you are allowed to wear a black jacket with it called a duty jacket.
VMI Cadet Uniform
2. Gray Blouse: This uniform is what we wear to dinner, more formal occasions, like for a speaker and into town during the winter. It is a dressier uniform and looks exactly how it sounds. It is a gray blouse with a white collar and white cuffs and we wear it with our white slacks, except during the winter when we wear it with our wool slacks. We also wear white gloves with it during the summer season and black gloves in the winter. It is extremely uncomfortable and hot because it is made out of wool and very restrictive and hard to move in. When it gets exceedingly cold in winter we wear a wool overcoat with it.
3. Coatee: This uniform is what we wear during our weekly parades and for very fancy events, like a ball. It is worn with high wasted white slacks—different than our everyday ones. It is made out of wool like the gray blouse and has rows of buttons all over the front of it. It also has white cuffs and a collar like the gray blouse. This is what the guys wear at a ball or dance. The girls have the option of wearing a short or long white skirt with it instead of the slacks depending on the occasion but everyone wears the slacks with it during parade.
This uniform is also accompanied by other pieces during a parade. We wear white straps across our shoulders in the form of an X, with a brass plate in the center, and a white belt with a brass buckle; and attached in the back above the butt is a little cartridge box. Additionally, we wear white gloves and a hat called a shako. We are transformed into little toy soldiers. However, during winter parades—the few that we have—we wear the gray blouse with the overcoat. We also wear the same accessories like we wear with the coatee with the exception of the shako and white gloves. Instead we wear our everyday hats and black gloves.
VMI Coatee with Accessories
4. Winter Uniform: This uniform is worn from the end of November till about the end of February or mid-March. It is our winter casual attire because we wear it to class and meals—excluding dinner, just like our summer uniform, but we aren’t allowed to wear it into town. It consists of wool slacks, which are extremely uncomfortable so I recommend wearing long johns underneath, and a long sleeve black blouse, with the shoes and hat like the summer uniform. You are also pretty much wearing the duty jacket with it too and black gloves because it gets so cold.
5. P.T. (Physical Training) Uniform: This uniform is what we wear when we work out. It is pretty basic with a gray t-shirt and red shorts with V.M.I written on them. When it gets colder we wear black pants and a gray sweatshirt over them and if it is extremely cold we get to wear a black cap and black gloves too. When it is raining we wear the black pants and a windbreaker over the shirt and shorts.
Additionally, athletes are allowed to wear their team uniforms if they are working out as a team in the weight room or during practice.
6. A.C.U.s (Army Combat Uniform): This uniform is worn with your respective military branches and when it gets nasty outside because of snow or rain so it doesn’t mess up our other uniforms. Since our school is primarily an Army school, this is why we wear the army uniform. It is just like what you see regular soldiers wear with the digital fatigues, blouse, and cap with tan colored boots.
7. Miscellaneous Uniforms: These uniform items are just random pieces we have to wear or can choose to wear for different occasions. When it rains, we have to wear a rain cape over our everyday uniform so it doesn’t ruin them. These capes look ridiculous because they make us look like Dracula. Also we have to wear a plastic cover over our hats so it doesn’t damage the wool. These are known as, what the guys call condoms. Boys…they never grow up.
On a different note, during football season, athletes are allowed to wear their letter sweaters with the white slacks during the football games. It distinguishes them from all the other students and kind of makes them feel special—at least I think so, but I’m biased since I get to wear one.
Additionally, we have a red polo shirt with the V.M.I logo on it which we wear on rare occasions—hardly at all. It is mostly used for sports teams when they travel, but they normally wear their own traveling gear. However, the cadets who are part of helping the freshman cheer during football games wear the red polo with their white slacks, but other than that nobody else really does.
And lastly, during basketball season if you purchase a Big Red t-shirt, you are allowed to wear it during the basketball games with your white slacks. It’s a way to show team spirit.
Big Red Shirt
Overall, the uniforms are pretty much straight forward. You wear what you are told, but that’s what the military is all about. At least I don’t have to worry about picking out my outfit every day or impressing anyone since we all look the same. Unfortunately, the guys do pull off the uniform better than the girls since they are made for men, but I can still rock the white skirt and blouse. Nevertheless, when I do get to put civilian clothes back on I feel so much better because I get to express my personality and actually look more like a girl!