The Marine Corps has authorized female officers and staff noncommissioned officers to wear slacks instead of skirts with their dressy evening uniform.

Until now, at fancy events like Marine Corps birthday balls, high-ranking female Marines would wear a long or knee-length black skirt with a red cummerbund, a white shirt, a black jacket and — optionally — a cape, according to the Marine Corps uniform regulations.

A little more than a century after the first women enlisted in the Marine Corps, sometimes bearing the nickname “skirt Marines,” there is now no uniform that requires female Marines to wear skirts, according to the regulations.

The new high-waisted evening-dress slacks will be blue with a red stripe on the side for staff noncommissioned officers, and dark blue with a gold stripe on the side for officers, like the slacks worn by male Marines in the uniform, according to the Marine administrative message Wednesday announcing the change.

To mark the Marine Corps’ birthday Nov. 10, Marine units across the globe hold black-tie celebrations that call for the spiffy uniforms. But the design for the new dress slacks hasn’t been approved yet, according to the message.

Female Marines who want to wear slacks with their evening dress uniforms this November can buy the male slacks, or don their dress-blue slacks as long as the jacket overlaps with the upper portion of the waistband.

“Tailoring will be at the individual’s expense,” the message reads.

The change doesn’t apply to enlisted female Marines below the staff sergeant rank ― they wear the standard dress blues to fancy occasions. That uniform can be worn with either slacks or a knee-length skirt.

Dress blues are also an option for officers and staff noncommissioned officers who don’t own, and aren’t required to wear, the evening dress uniforms to a given black- or white-tie event, according to the uniform regulations.

Irene Loewenson is a staff reporter for Marine Corps Times. She joined Military Times as an editorial fellow in August 2022. She is a graduate of Williams College, where she was the editor-in-chief of the student newspaper.

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