Straight Talk: Dress and appearance -- Do you know the rules?

  • Published
  • By Col. Stacy L. Yike
  • 66th Air Base Group commander
Spring has sprung! I hope you are out enjoying the wonderful weather. The base is hopping with all sorts of events. Next week is the March Madness Hot Shot competition at the gym all week long and Friday is Operation Night Hoops at the Youth Center from 8 p.m. until midnight. Thursday brings the annual Family Pasta Night at the Youth Center, as well as Steak Night at the Minuteman Commons. Saturday will transform into a "Night of Magic" in the Commons ballroom. There is fun to be had for all!

Today's guest columnist, Capt. Michael Oetjens, Medical Logistics and Readiness flight commander, discusses dress and appearance regulations. I regularly hear comments that the military at Hanscom seem to have forgotten the uniform regulations, but I find that hard to believe! Perhaps we just don't hold each other accountable to the standard we know exists. Read on for the captain's perspective.

As a member of a military organization there are many things that set us apart from the private sector, but none is more noticeable to the general public than our dress and appearance. Two of the most common violations that I have witnessed in my short time in service are haircuts and tattoos. At the end of this column you will also find some suggestions you can utilize in your workplace to spread dress and appearance knowledge in your organization.

When was the last time you looked at a co-worker and said to yourself, "That hair looks a bit long," or "Are those sideburns authorized?" but you didn't say anything because you couldn't recall the standard?

For men, hair will not exceed 1¼ inch in bulk and ¼ inch at natural termination point, allowing only closely cut or shaved hair on the back of the neck to touch the collar. Hair will not touch the ears or protrude under the front of headgear.

If worn, sideburns will be straight and even width (not flared), and will not extend below the bottom of the orifice of the ear opening. Sideburns will end in a clean-shaven horizontal line.

For women, minimum length is one inch to a maximum bulk of three inches from scalp. Hair will end above the bottom edge of collar and any side of an invisible line drawn parallel to the ground. When in doubt, assess correct length of hair with Airman standing in the position of attention.

Do you ever see an Airman in a short sleeve blouse exposing a tattoo on the arm and think, "Can a tattoo be exposed while in uniform?"

There is a common misperception that the Air Force does not permit any tattoos, but that is not accurate. Tattoos are permissible as long as they do not cover more than 25 percent of the exposed area and do not have unauthorized content.

Always check the regulation to be certain, or ask a senior NCO.

How can you educate your co-workers on AFI 36-2903? Send out "Dress and Appearance Tips of the Month" emails to your flight or squadron or rotate having your Airmen (officers and enlisted) share a tip during your weekly meetings. Most importantly, correct your co-workers when they are in violation.

Remember, when you wear the uniform your dress and appearance does not only reflect upon yourself, but on the Air Force as a whole.