The Aviator Shirt Uniform
The Aviator Shirt Uniform (or Aviator Shirt Combo)
Last time around, we looked at the other CAP Service Uniform, the USAF-style Class B blues or the Blue Service Uniform. This time, we’re addressing the CAP-distinctive Aviator Shirt Uniform.
Remember: the appearance of CAP members in uniform is governed by CAPR 39-1, CAP Uniform Regulation. This uniform, along with the Blue Service Uniform, are the minimum uniforms CAP members are required to possess (CAPR 39-1, para 1.2.1). The wear of this uniform is covered in CAPR 39-1, para 4.2.5 (men) and 4.2.6 (women).
Any CAP senior member can wear this uniform combination. It is also required for cadets over age 18 who do not meet the height & weight standards for wear of the USAF-style uniform. The wear pattern for this uniform is remarkably similar to that of the USAF-style Blue Service Uniform, but the stringent USAF-style requirements (grooming, weight & height standards) don’t apply. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try to make your uniform look sharp. I tend to wear my aviators exactly the same way I’d wear my USAF Class B blues, for example.
Here are some key factors and gotchas:
- Grooming standards. Members wearing this uniform do not have to meet the USAF-grooming standards. However, there are some limited grooming and appearance standards that do apply when wearing CAP-distinctive combinations. Para 3.3 in CAPR 39-1 is the guide.
- Headgear. There is no specified headgear for this uniform. Some members will elect to wear a CAP baseball cap of some sort outdoors to correspond to their USAF-wearing comrades at some events, but it is not required. You should “read the room” when wearing this uniform as to whether a baseball cap is appropriate vs no hat at all. (example, you’re at an event with members of the community who are wearing shirts and slacks. If they’re not wearing a baseball cap, you probably shouldn't either.)
- Types of Aviator Shirts. A common issue with the aviator shirts, especially buying them from a source other than Vanguard, is that some have sewn-in eyelets over the pockets for wings, or they have open-topped "false" pockets. Also, white "law enforcement" shirts may have a scalloped pocket edge and sewn-in “military creases,” both of which are incorrect. Look for aviator shirts from Van Heusen, as they seem to be ubiquitous and durable with the usual features.
- There is also a white “overblouse” authorized for women which has no pockets and is similar to the Class B women’s blues "overblouse" shirt. That overblouse is only available from Vanguard.
- Wash your shirt. A lot. It is a white shirt: it will show dirt if you look at it funny. Launder the living daylights out of it. Give particular emphasis to the collar. Certain manufacturers and fabrics will tend to change color over time, too.
- Wash your hands, too! When putting your uniform together, make sure your hands are clean. Grubby collars points and button plackets look awful. It happens because your hands are dirty when you put your insignia on!! (also: your ribbons will get dirty quickly)
- T-shirt. The correct t-shirt worn under this uniform with an open collar is a plain white v-neck so that no t-shirt is showing at the neck. If you are a veteran of another service, this is a super gotcha. Also: You can see anything printed on a t-shirt through the aviator shirt.
- Ties. Ties are NOT required with the short-sleeve aviator shirt. A tie IS required with the long-sleeve shirt. The same tie worn with the USAF blues (both male & female) is worn with the aviator shirt. Common error: the blue & red striped “Regimental Tie” is ONLY worn with the blazer. (para 220.127.116.11.4)
- Badges and ribbons. Worn in a similar fashion as the Class B Blues we talked about last time. However, unlike the USAF-style Class B Blues, where I mentioned the customary wear pattern for ribbons, it should be clear: this is the ONLY uniform that members who wear CAP-distinctive uniforms can wear their ribbons on. If you wear only aviators and you want to wear your ribbons, that's 100% allowed under the regs and you should do that if you want.
- Military Badges & Ribbons. Military badges and ribbons are not allowed on the CAP-distinctive uniforms (paras 18.104.22.168.3, 22.214.171.124.7 and 126.96.36.199.2.2, 188.8.131.52.6.2). This is due to a USAF prohibition on wearing military items with "civilian" garb.
- Belt. Black leather, plain silver or brass buckle. Not the tactical “rigger” belt.
- Items on the belt. You’re allowed one item (para 184.108.40.206) like a cell phone or cell phone holster.
- Trousers. Solid color grey dress-type slacks are preferred. Chinos, cotton trousers, grey jeans or “tactical” pants (as are worn with the corporate working uniform) are not permitted. “Medium grey” as a color is ill-defined, but if you’re close to the color of the shoulder marks, you’ll be about right.
- Footwear. Pretty much any plain black shoe with black socks (or with hoisery for women).
- Outerwear. Appropriate civilian outer garments or items such as the black leather jacket, the black fleece, or the light blue windbreaker are allowed.
Really, thats it: Clean, neat, and in good repair. Make it look nice and professional!