Marines Sleeves Up: Longtime Fashion Returns

By: Toni Matthews-El - February 27, 2014

A number of Marines are sighing in relief as they say goodbye to an unpopular policy over uniform sleeves.

First Sgt. Shawn Wright, a drill instructor and career Marine, said, “That’s what separated us from every other branch, our sleeves.”

The policy first appeared in 2007 when then-Commandant Gen. James Conway announced that Marines could only roll the sleeves up on their desert-brown camouflage utility uniforms during the summer months. In October of 2011, Commandment Gen. Amos declared all uniforms must have the sleeves rolled down, regardless of the time and place, all year long.

When the U.S. Marine Corps declared that Marines were no longer allowed to roll up their sleeves, the decree was met by complaints and numerous petition drives.

Amos later said of the response to his policy, “I can’t tell you how many times we have been asked the persistent question, ‘Commandant, are we ever going to return to SLEEVES UP?'”

The comment came via his Facebook page, which quickly garnered thousands of likes and a number of comments.

The policy lasted all of two and a half years before the U.S. Marine Corps realized that it was largely unpopular and decided to do away with the requirement.

According to Lt. Col. David Nevers, a Marines spokesman, the positive feedback following the repeal of the rule has been “deafening”. “In the four years since we began using social media we haven’t seen any post generate such an overwhelmingly positive reaction.”

Not everyone was happy with the return to the old way of wearing uniforms. Said one unhappy comment, “This is why nobody takes the USMC seriously.”

Regardless of whether or not this is the case, the Marines are extremely proud of their distinct nature. Even the camouflage they use has been patented—this means no other U.S military branch can copy it.

Marines must continue to wear their sleeves down in combat zones, during training, and in winter months. Leathernecks everywhere are allowed to resume rolling up their sleeves on March 9th.

Image via Wikimedia Commons

Toni Matthews-El

About the Author

Toni Matthews-ElToni Matthews-El hails from the land of chunked pumpkins and people who come to a complete stop before making any and every turn. When she isn't contributing articles to WebProNews, she spends her time freelance writing, cheering Liverpool FC, and enjoying life as a hair flower connoisseur. Disclaimer: Written opinions do not necessarily reflect that of WebProNews or its affiliates

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  • Fritz Von

    General Conway tries to hide his scrawny arms, whilst he sits in air conditioning all day. Nice Victorian mentality.

  • 0369

    The only people who want sleeves rolled again are the fucking POG’s!! This was the worst news a grunt could recieve!!

  • Lawrence Wise

    I thought the most distinctive fatigue uniform feature was the utility cap. I never noticed sleeves up or sleeves down. I put my 20 in the Army, and it was basically sleeves down until the temperature reached a certain setting. I preferred sleeves downl.

    • James Dean

      When did you serve Lawrence, because I know from May,1983 – July,1991, it was sleeves rolled up unless in combat, training or Winter (Winter was optional). I thought sleeves up were better and looked professional when done correctly. Also when at; Benning, Jackson, Dix, Brag, Campbell, Knox, Polk, Hood (to name a few), where humidity levels rose from 40-75% during the Summer months, sleeves down became unbearable. True that sleeves down held in moisture, and slowed down fluid loss and protected against sun burns, but it was still unbearable.

      • Lawrence Wise

        James, I served from December 1961 through December 1981. When I retired I had 20 years and 8 days. The only time I can remember sleeves up was in 1966 at Fort Bliss, 1967-68 in Nam and at Fort Polk, LA. When I first went in, I was scared shootless of my Platoon Sergeant and was so ever thankful I was in the Army instead of USMC.

  • Steve

    I think there is a bit more than rolled sleeves that seperates us from the rest 1stSgt.

    • James Dean

      Let’s not get into which branch serves a higher purpose or which is better, We all supported and defended this great nation, and were willing to lay our lives down to defend her, we are all Brothers and Sisters in Arms. A fraternity that others cannot comprehend nor appreciate.

  • James Dean

    What the hell are they talking about when they declare this “Set the Marines apart for other branches”? I was regular Army for 8 glorious years, and we rolled our sleeves up the entire time, unless in combat, training or during winter months (It was optional in Winter). The only difference being is that the Marines sleeves appear “inside out” whereas we were required to make the final fold with with the cuff covering the folds themselves. That is the only difference. I love all branches of the Armed Forces, anyone who serves, has serves or will serve in the future, so lets not make claims that aren’t based on fact…The caps set us apart, and the BDU cammo pattern…not the sleeves.

    • Calm

      I think it’s, as you mentioned, the “inside out” look of the rolled sleeve that he was talking about.

      I prefer the Army method myself.

      • James Dean

        So did I@Calm, I thought it was a professional look myself,

  • dick

    Mindless fool’s.