The United States Navy has three categories of dress uniforms, from least to most formal: service, full, and dinner dress.
Service dress uniforms are worn for official functions not rising to the level of full or dinner dress. They are also commonly worn when traveling in official capacity, or when reporting to a command. The civilian equivalent is a business suit. Service Dress Blue may be worn year-round, while Service Dress White is reserved for summer or tropical zones. Ribbons are worn over the left breast pocket in all variations of the service dress uniform. An all-weather overcoat or reefer coat may be worn with service dress uniforms in cold or inclement weather.
Officers and chief petty officers
Service Dress Blue
A female U.S. Navy officer in Service Dress Blue uniform (2012)
The Service Dress Blue (SDB) uniform consists of a dark navy blue suit coat and trousers (or optional skirt for women) that are nearly black in color, a white shirt, and a black four-in-hand necktie for men or a neck tab for women. The material is generally wool or a wool blend, depending on the vendor. The men's jacket is double-breasted with six gold-colored buttons, and the women's jacket single breasted with a single row of four gold-colored buttons. Rank insignia are gold sleeve stripes for commissioned officers, while rating badges and service stripes are worn on the left sleeve by chief petty officers (CPOs). The prescribed headgear is a white combination cap, although a navy blue garrison cap is optional in some situations when the jacket is not worn, unless stated otherwise by the prescribing authority. Beginning in 2016, the Navy began phasing out the distinct female combination cap and now prescribes a cover similar to the male version for female officers and CPOs; the prior female versions were authorized for wear until October 2018. Commissioned and warrant officers above grade W-2 wear a cap badge of the U.S. shield and eagle in silver upon gold crossed anchors, warrant officers at grade W-1 a pair of crossed anchors, while CPOs wear a single fouled anchor. The combination cover's chinstrap is gold for commissioned and warrant officers, narrower gold for midshipmen and warrant officers 1, and black for CPOs. Females typically wear beltless slacks with the SDB, although since January 2017, belted slacks can be worn as an alternative.
Service Dress White
The Service Dress White uniform has until recently been different for the men's and women's variations. Men wear a high stand-collared white tunic, with shoulder boards for officers or metal anchor collar devices for CPOs, white trousers, and white shoes. This uniform is informally called "chokers" due to the standing collar. The material, formerly cotton, today is a weave of polyester known as "Certified Navy Twill". The white combination cap is the prescribed headgear.
Women previously wore a uniform similar to the Service Dress Blue uniform but with a white coat and skirt or trousers. Officer's rank insignia consisted of lacing on the sleeves in the same manner as on the blue uniform, while CPOs wore rank insignia pins on the lapels of the jacket. However, the Navy announced female uniform changes to resemble the men's uniforms, and female officers and CPOs began wearing stand-collared tunics similar to the male uniform in early 2017, with full replacement of the old-style uniform by the end of January 2020 (delayed from an initial date of December 2019).
Junior enlisted sailors
An officer inspects enlisted sailors in Service Dress Blue (2008)
Service Dress Blues for male junior enlisted sailors are based on the classic sailor suit in navy blue, colloquially referred to as "crackerjacks" because of the sailor-suited figure that adorns the packaging of Cracker Jack snacks. They consist of a navy blue wool pullover jumper with a tar-flap collar adorned with three rows of white stripes on the collar and cuffs and two white stars, one at each corner of the collar. A black silk or synthetic fiber neckerchief, rolled diagonally, is worn around the neck, under the collar, with the ends tied in a square knot in the center of the chest. The trousers for the uniform are flared as "bell bottoms". The trousers have traditionally featured a broad-fall opening, though changes to the trouser announced in 2012 have added a zippered fly, rendering the buttons merely decorative. A traditional white "Dixie cup" hat is also worn, as well as black leather shoes. For a brief period in the 1970s and early 1980s, male enlisted sailors in paygrades E-1 to E-6 wore a double-breasted blue uniform based on the version worn by officers and CPOs, but with grey buttons and a combination cover with an emblem consisting of a silver eagle and the letters "USN".
The female junior enlisted sailors' Service Dress Blue uniform was formerly similar to the short-lived male uniform from the 1970s. This uniform was phased out and was replaced by a female-cut variant of the "crackerjacks" with the transition begun in October 2016 and completed by the end of January 2020 (delayed from its initial date of December 2019).
Until 2016, the junior enlisted Service Dress White uniform, for both sexes, consisted of a white jumper with plain collar, white bell-bottom trousers with a fly front (or optional skirt for women), black leather shoes, the black neckerchief worn in the same fashion as with the Service Dress Blue uniform. Males wore the white "Dixie cup" cap, while females wore the same cap as their Service Dress Blue uniforms. That Service Dress White jumper was actually derived from the former Undress White, with its wide cuff-less sleeves and no piping. However, beginning in October 2015, Service Dress White jumpers were changed to feature navy blue piping on cuffed sleeves, stars and navy blue piping on the collar, and a yoke, making it a 'photo-negative' of the Service Dress Blue jumper.
Ribbons are worn with these uniforms over the top left pocket opening, along with qualification or warfare insignia. Either the all-weather coat or peacoat may be worn with this uniform in cold or inclement weather. The color of the enlisted rate insignia and service stripes for the Service Dress Blues is either red or gold based upon how many years the wearer has served (prior to 2019 it was contingent on disciplinary history); the colors on the Service Dress Whites are always black.
Full Dress uniforms are worn for ceremonies such as changes of command, retirements, commissionings and decommissionings, funerals, weddings, or when otherwise appropriate. Full Dress is similar to Service Dress except that instead of ribbons, full-size medals are worn above the left breast pocket, with ribbons worn on the opposite side for decorations without corresponding medals. Swords or cutlasses are authorized for wear by officers and chief petty officers, and may be required for Lt. Commander and above.
For the Ceremonial Guard in Washington, D.C., the junior enlisted Full Dress uniforms are further modified with the wearing of a white pistol belt, ascot, and dress aiguillette (the latter two are white for winter and navy blue for summer), and white canvas leggings. Other honor guards are only authorized leggings and white pistol belt.
A navy captain's "Full Dress Blue Uniform" with full-sized medals, white gloves and sword (2007)
Enlisted Full Dress Whites worn at a Change of Command Ceremony in 2009. This is the older-style version that is due to be replaced in 2021; it lacks the blue piping and stars
A Navy officer in blue mess dress (2017)
The dinner dress uniforms of the United States Navy are the most formal and have the most variations. For officers, there are Dinner Dress Blue and Dinner Dress White, Dinner Dress Blue Jacket and Dinner Dress White Jacket, and Formal Dress. Although trousers are authorized, women frequently wear the appropriate color skirt.
Dinner Dress Blue and White are identical to their Service Dress versions, but worn with miniature medals and badges with no ribbons. Dinner Dress Blue is additionally worn with a dress shirt and black bow tie. These variants are commonly worn by many junior officers and enlisted personnel as substitutes for the more formal Dinner Dress Jacket variant which is only prescribable for Lieutenant Commander and above and optional for Lieutenant and below.
The Dinner Dress Blue/White Jacket uniforms feature a short mess jacket with three buttons on either side, worn open with a black bow tie and gold cummerbund (women substitute a neck tab for the bow tie). Male officers show rank stripes on the sleeves of the jacket for the blue version and on shoulder boards for the white version, while women officers only wear sleeve stripes. This uniform is equivalent to black tie in usage.
The Formal Dress variation is the most formal, and is identical to the Dinner Dress Blue Jacket uniform but worn with a white waistcoat with gold buttons in place of the cummerbund, a white bow tie, and matching mother-of-pearl studs and cuff links. Though rarely used, men can also substitute a tailcoat for the standard dinner dress jacket with this uniform. The female version is substantially the same as Dinner Dress Blue Jacket, but substitutes the mother-of-pearl studs and cuff links for gold. This uniform is equivalent to white tie in usage. Additionally, this uniform is only prescribed for chiefs and officers.
Headgear is not required for dinner dress uniforms unless an outer jacket is worn.
Those holding the rank of lieutenant and below have the option of using the Dinner Dress uniform when Dinner Dress Jacket is prescribed. The enlisted sailors who are chief petty officer and above wear a uniform similar to the officers, but with rank insignia and service stripes on the left sleeve. While enlisted who are petty officer first class and below have optional Dinner Dress Jacket uniforms similar to the officers and chiefs, they may also wear their Dinner Dress uniform, which is the traditional Service Dress "sailor suit", with miniature medals instead of ribbons.
For more information on Service Uniforms for the US NAVY please refer to;
Uniforms of the United States Navy