FORT SILL — The U.S. Army is marching military fashionforward.
On first glimpse, new combat uniforms being tested at Fort Sill don't look much different from the current camouflage ensemble. But the new trouser and jacket known officially as “Army Combat Uniform-Alternate” is designed to be more formfitting.
Initially developed for women, the new trouser offers a wider hip, waist and backside while the new jacket offers slimmer shoulders, a thinner waist and a longer, wider bottom. Fitters at Fort Sill slowly began issuing the new uniform in April to recruits entering basic training but soon found it also offered a better fit for many men and now are offering it to both sexes.
“The Army is starting to realize people are built differently,'' Sam Morlett said this week while working at Fort Sill's Central Issue Initial Point, a hot, cavernous warehouse where newly arrived recruits receive their military issue clothing.
“It's the same look. It's just a better fit.”
Fit is something Morlett and his co-workers size up quickly.
After eight years on the job, he's thrown away his tape measure.
“A lot of us have a pretty good eye here,” he said as he helped outfit 230 nervous new recruits.
One recruit, wearing long black socks, black gym shorts and an gray Army T-shirt stepped up to Morlett's counter and handed him a sheet of white paper that listed her clothing sizes.
Morlett slid a pair of the new wider-fitting pants across the counter to Diamond Youngblood, of Fort Walton Beach, Fla.
“Put them on please. Button just the top button only.”
Morlett leaned forward over his counter.
“Step back. Let me see the length.”
He scanned her up and down.
“Too short. Take them off.”
Youngblood removed the pants, and Morlett slid her several new pair a size longer and was on to the next recruit.
Drill sergeant Cassi Richardson, of Elkhorn, Wis., said her favorite part of the new uniform is more roominess in the hips.
But Richardson, a 7-year veteran who is a 5-feet-5 inches tall and weighs a fit 138 pounds, said she's tired of rumors that the new uniforms, years in development, are designed to cater to a bigger, heavier, out-of-shape Army.
Not true, she said.
Asked what she missed about the old uniform, Richardson didn't hesitate.
“Nothing,” she said.
There is one thing that hasn't changed with the new uniform.
At least once a day, Morlett said a recruit, sometimes a man, sometimes a woman, will try on the pants, crack a smile and ask, “Does this make my (rear end) look big?”