Dress to impress: Are you ready?

by Chief Master Sgt. Michael Dahlhoff
U.S. Air Forces in Europe and Air Forces Africa Emergency Management Functional manager

If you had to wear your service dress uniform tomorrow for an official picture, to meet a dignitary, for a retreat ceremony, a memorial or to report to the commander, would your uniform be ready? Do you even know where your uniform is? If you are not sure, now may be the time to log into Virtual MPF, print a copy of your authorized ribbons, take it home and pull your service dress uniform out of the closet. Check to make sure your ribbons are up to date and not dirty or frayed. Make sure your uniform is clean and pressed and everything still fits like it is supposed to.

If you are like many of us, it is easy to forget this uniform in the back of your closet. After all, most of us report to work daily in a utility uniform, flight suit or coveralls.

The last time you wore your service dress uniform may have been for an awards dinner or even basic training.  Since this time, you may have promoted, been awarded a decoration or perhaps added a few pounds to your frame. Even if those pounds are muscle, it is likely your dress uniform will not fit right and require alteration.

If you think you can get that alteration with only a day’s notice, you have not adjusted to the reality of living overseas, where it normally takes at least a few days and often up to a week for this service.

We have all seen the individual trying to squeeze into their old uniform, the buttons straining against the cloth with such severity that you avoid standing directly in front of them for fear one of the buttons will pop off and you may lose an eye. If you are the individual I am talking about, do us all a favor: use some of your annual clothing allowance and buy a new service coat! If you can’t stomach the cost of a new coat, go to the Airman’s Attic and pick up a used coat and have it altered, so you once again can look proudly in the mirror.


As a young NCO I once made the mistake of not double-checking my uniform before attending an Air Force Ball.

Although I had checked to make sure my dress shirt and service coat were clean and ready, I had not looked for my pants. Only on the night of the event did I find them missing. Not only did this cost me the ticket price and embarrassment of not attending the event, but my wife was all dressed up, and I still had to take her out to a nice dinner. Needless to say, I never made this mistake again, and now I always have my shirts and pants clean and pressed. Learn from my mistake, and take the time to make sure your service dress uniform is up to par.