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What’s the most annoying uniform item you have to wear?

The vexing. The crappy. The annoying.
Max Hauptman Avatar
A close up of a US Marine's boot with the marines emblem etched in the side at the Northwell Health Side by Side: A Celebration of Service event in Flatiron on May 28, 2022 in New York City. (Alexi Rosenfeld/Getty Images)

If there is one enduring constant across the various service branches, it’s that there’s a part of your uniform that is just downright irritating. Maybe it just never looks right. Maybe it’s painful to wear. Maybe it breaks constantly. 

Perhaps it is the uniform itself, or at least the pattern. Something like the Army’s Universal Camouflage Pattern, which debuted as part of the Army Combat Uniform in 2005 and now lives on mostly in used clothing stores. From fraying velcro to the need to pin on skill badges, to the fact that the camouflage pattern rarely concealed much, almost everything about this outfit could be fodder for minor, petty grievances. 

On a similar note, maybe it’s something like the subdued enlisted rank insignia worn on the Marine Corps’ woodland pattern uniforms. Do those black chevrons on the insignia perform one of camouflage’s primary purposes: concealment? Yes, absolutely. Does that cause problems when you’re also trying to see someone’s rank from a distance? Also yes, absolutely

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Likewise, there’s that brown lettering and insignia that the Air Force uses with its Operational Camouflage Pattern uniforms which, again, can turn plenty of outdoor encounters into a real test of one’s visual acuity. 

Those bands to blouse your boots may also be a source of annoyance and frustration. These seem like a decent enough idea, in theory. In practice, though, they seem to have a habit of unhooking or disappearing at random times. 

Finally, there are shirt stays. You know, those elastic straps that keep your shirt tucked in. Of course, there’s nothing mandating that someone wears these, so users are assuming their own risk. But they do help make a uniform look nice and crisp. However, should one happen to snap off, then you’ve got a small piece of metal and elastic rocketing up your leg towards that most sensitive of regions. Just hope it doesn’t happen while you’re in formation. 

So what are all the little bits and pieces of your uniform that bring you the most annoyance, consternation, or simply a “Goddamnit” muttered under your breath? Let us know in the comments below, on social media, or email max.hauptman@taskandpurpose.com, and we’ll round them up for another story showing your top picks.

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