Main Content

USAF-style vs. Corporate-style

USAF-style vs. Corporate-style

A question was posed after Squared Away #1: “Is there a reason to prefer Corporate-style vs USAF-style?”

As you might guess, the answer is “It depends.” (you’re going to hate hearing that from me, but there are a lot of circumstantial decisions around uniform wear)

The slightly better answer is “No, not really.”

What style of uniform a member chooses to wear is largely a matter of personal preference and what you do in CAP.  Do you largely support the cadets & the cadet program? Are you a radio communicator who goes to missions and hangs out in the comm room? Are you a pilot who just wants to fly that plane like Tom Cruise? And lastly, are you ready to wear the AF style uniform correctly?


Wear of the USAF-style uniform is a privilege granted to CAP by the Air Force. We have a responsibility when wearing the USAF-style uniform to wear it correctly and in the manner prescribed by the regulation. 

This uniform comes with a number of restrictions and requirements, specifically USAF-style grooming standards (CAPR 39-1, Attachment 3) and weight & height standards (CAPR 39-1, Attachment 2). Plus, there is the extra cost of obtaining USAF-specific items versus their civilian counterparts. And, as wearers of the USAF-style will agree with me, the USAF-style uniform can take a little bit to “get right.” There are any number of non-obvious idiosyncrasies if you’re not accustomed to wearing military uniforms. (all the cadets out there are nodding and checking their giglines and military tucks..)

And of course, cadets are required to wear the USAF-style uniform in almost every circumstance (CAPR 39-1, para 1.2.2).


CAP Corporate-style uniform standards aren’t quite as stringent. You don’t have to meet the weight & height standards imposed by the Air Force, or the military-style grooming standards. You can purchase your pieces and parts on the civilian market and they don’t conform to “military standards” (and thus, can be more inexpensive). That’s not to say that there aren’t standards, of course.

To quote CAPR 39-1, “CAP’s Corporate-style uniforms facilitate a professional image for members who choose not to or cannot wear the USAF-style uniform. [...] They facilitate member uniformity while neither imposing nor authorizing a military uniform substitute for the USAF-style uniform. Corporate-style uniforms are simpler in design and cost is minimized by making most badges and devices optional for wear.”

No matter which uniform you choose to wear, it is important that you wear it correctly and with pride.  Again, quoting CAPR 39-1, para 1.1.3

“Pride in one’s personal appearance and in wearing the uniform greatly enhances the esprit de corps essential to an effective organization. A very important part of the image a CAP member projects, and the impression they create, is how he/she wears their uniform. As with other personal appearance standards, the CAP uniform emphasizes a neat, clean, professional image. Members have a responsibility to keep their uniform clean, pressed, and in good repair. In addition, members are responsible for knowing the authorized uniform combinations and the correct placement of ribbons, insignia, badges and other uniform items.”

The bottom line is to pick the appropriate style of uniform, Corporate- or USAF-style, for your particular role and path in the organization. Then, obtain the needed categories of uniforms that fit your particular needs. 

But whatever style of uniform you wear, please wear the uniform correctly. If you’re not sure, if CAPR 39-1 is confusing and you’re just not sure, ask someone in your chain of command for help.  Cadets, that might be your flight sergeant or flight commander. Seniors, that might be your deputy commander for seniors or your commander.

© 2023 Civil Air Patrol. All rights reserved.