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Olive Drab Service Uniform
(1943 - 1945)

The olive drab service uniform was introduced in 1943. It was intended to replace the blue outdoor uniform, as the U.S. Army decided to standardize the color of the uniforms worn by men and women serving in its ranks.

The olive drab service uniform was available in two versions: winter (labeled Wool on the tag) and summer (labeled Tropical Worsted on the tag). The two versions differed only in the material they were made of. The winter version of the uniform was sewn from barathea, while the summer version was made from a range of different lightweight materials. The complete uniform consisted of a jacket, skirt and headgear (a service cap, and later also a garrison cap) in olive drab shade No. 51, or so-called dark olive-drab, also informally called chocolate.

Lt. Dorothy Toon Todd, at right, in full OD service uniform..jpg
Olive Drab Service Uniform.jpg
Lt. Rose Blickstein.jpg


Jackets, Wool, OD, Women's, Officer's, N

Jacket, Wool, OD, Women's, Officer's, Nurse’s

Winter jacket made of barathea is fastened with four regulation buttons and has two simulated breast pockets. The sleeves are decorated at the bottom with an officer's green trim. Together with the skirt in the same color, it forms a complete women’s officer's service uniform.


Jacket, Service, Tropical Worsted, Nurses’, Dark OD

Summer single-breasted jacket made of durable, lightweight fabric in OD shade No. 51. It has four regulation buttons and is worn in combination with a skirt made of the same material.

Insignia on the OD service uniform were worn as follows. Military rank pins were attached to the shoulder loops of the jacket. On the collar, closer to the neck, was a pair of cut-out "U.S." officer insignia, and at the lower part of the collar was a pair of Nurse Corps caduceus pins.

Insignia Service Jacket.jpg


Skirt, Wool, OD, Dark, Women's, Officer'

Skirt, Wool, OD, Dark, Women’s, Officer’s

A six gore, barathea skirt with narrow buttoned waistband and sufficient hem to allow for possible alteration. It is worn with the winter jacket.

Skirt, Jacket, Waist, Tie, Service Cap.p


A complete officer's service uniform for nurses in olive drab. Here worn by regulation with khaki tie and OD headwear. On the jacket you can see the officer's insignia: cut-out "U.S." on the collar, at the caduceus with the letter "N" on the lapels. Rank pins – second lieutenant (2nd Lt.) or higher – are pinned to the shoulder loops.

Skirt, Service, Tropical Worsted, Nurses

Skirt, Service, Tropical Worsted, Nurses', Dark OD

This skirt is constructed of a strong, durable, summer-weight fabric in OD shade No. 51. It is worn with the summer jacket. The skirt should reach past the knee.

Skirt, Jacket, Waist, Men's Garrison Cap


A non-regulation, relaxed style of wearing the service uniform that may have been allowed by the chief nurse or unit commander. This combination lacks a tie, and the shirt collar is unbuttoned and worn over the jacket lapels. The headgear here is the male officer's garrison cap, which nurses sometimes wore before the introduction of the women's version in July 1944.

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OD Jacket, Pink Skirt, Khaki Shirt, Khak

Pinks and Greens:

The skirt in OD shade No. 54, popularly known as pink, was officially intended to be worn only by WAC officers. Nevertheless, period photos, mainly from 1945, show that some nurses also took a liking to the light-colored skirt. The chief nurse or others in charge of a unit decided whether this kind of skirt could or could not be worn. Pink skirts were never worn by nurses during official ceremonies or in the performance of their duties – only during leisure time, at receptions, while sightseeing or traveling home. The OD No. 54 skirt did not become an official part of a nurse's closet until 1948.

Nurses of the 59th Evacuation Hospital wearing Class A uniforms.jpg


In mid-1943, nurses serving overseas were given the opportunity to purchase dark olive drab high-waisted slacks. These trousers were available in both winter and summer versions, and the materials they were sewn from matched those of jackets and skirts. They had one pocket on the right side and a button and zipper closure on the left.


The wearing of slacks as part of the service uniform instead of a skirt was possible under such conditions as the immediate commanding officer of the nurses may deemed appropriate. Uniform rules were adapted by officers to the climate and terrain of their assigned zone of combat.

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Slacks, Women’s, Winter, Dark, O.D.

A winter version of dark olive drab trousers made of barathea. They feature a pocket on the right side and a zipper closure and two small buttons on the left.

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Slacks, Women’s, Summer, Dark, O.D.

A summer version of olive drab trousers made of lightweight material. Wearing slacks was allowed in situations where a skirt proved impractical.

U.S. Army nurse in OD slacks.jpg


The women's cotton shirt in khaki shade No. 1 was worn in combination with an olive drab service uniform. On warm days, the shirt could be worn with the collar unbuttoned, without a necktie or jacket. The shirt has two buttoned chest pockets. The first pattern of the khaki shirt had rectangular flaps on the pockets. Later, during the war, the size of the pockets was slightly increased, the shape of the flaps was changed to triangular, and a pencil compartment was added to the left pocket. The darts at the waistline ensure a proper fit.

Waist, Cotton, Women’s.png

Waist, Cotton, Women’s

(first pattern)

Women's khaki shirt made of poplin. The picture shows the first pattern of the shirt with rectangular flaps on the pockets. The shirt did not have shoulder loops.

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A khaki shirt paired with an olive drab skirt, khaki necktie and a women’s officer's garrison cap. When the shirt was worn without a jacket, the appropriate insignia had to be pinned to its collar: on the right side the rank (Lieutenant - 1st Lt. in the photo), on the left side the Army Nurse Corps caduceus with the letter "N". When the shirt is worn without the jacket, but with the necktie, the necktie must be tucked into the waist between the second and third buttons.

Waist, Cotton, Women's 2nd model.png

Waist, Cotton, Women’s

(revised pattern)

The revised pattern of women's khaki shirt with triangular flaps on the pockets. The left pocket has a compartment for a pencil. The shirt did not have shoulder loops.

Skirt, Waist, Garrison Cap.png


A slightly more casual style of wearing a khaki cotton shirt: with the collar unbuttoned and without a necktie. It was particularly popular with nurses serving in tropical climates. In this combination, the collar of the shirt should also bear the insignia: the rank on the right side, the caduceus on the left side.

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Women's Khaki Waist (short sleeves) with OD Skirt.png

Waist, Cotton, Women’s

(short sleeve)

Women's khaki shirt with shortened sleeves. Nurses serving in warm climates sometimes opted for this kind of alteration.

Nurse of the 95th Evacuation Hospital.jpeg
Lt. Lucy Slade Libby in short sleeved khaki waist.jpg

In addition, nurses had the option of privately purchasing a dark-colored shirt in OD shade No. 51, also known as chocolate. This model of shirt was tailor-made from high-quality materials and could also be worn in combination with the olive drab summer service uniform.

Waist, Tropical Worsted, Dark Olive-Drab, Nurse's:

Waist, Tropical Worsted, Dark Olive-Drab, Nurse's

The summer version of the olive drab service uniform could be worn with a privately purchased chocolate-colored shirt. The shirt in the photo was made by Saks Fifth Avenue. There is a small opening in the left pocket to accommodate a pencil.

Lt. Mary B. Cullen in chocolate shirt.JPG
Lt. Annaliese Munson.PNG


The basic headwear for the olive drab service uniform is a service cap of the same color. The service cap was available in two versions: a winter cap, made of thicker material, to be worn with the winter version of the uniform, and a summer cap, made of light material, to be worn with the summer uniform, but also with the olive drab off-duty dress and summer seersucker service uniform. According to the regulations, the cap should be worn evenly on the head, not tilted to the side. In the middle, the cap has a pinned Coat of Arms device (6 cm / 2.3 inches high), which emphasizes the officer status of the nurse.


From the introduction of the olive drab service uniform until July 1944, it was the only official headwear available to nurses.

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Cap, Service, Wool, OD, Nurse’s

The cap model seen in the photo was designed by the private New York company Knox Hats and was reserved exclusively for nurses serving in the army.

Cap, Service, Wool, OD, Nurse's - Inside

Cap, Service, Wool, OD, Nurse’s

The inside of the cap. You can see the size tag is 23 1/2 inches, which is just under 60 cm in head circumference.

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The popular garrison cap was not officially approved for use by Army Nurse Corps until July 1944. Prior to that, women sometimes chose to wear men's officer's garrison caps as a way to add variety to their uniforms. The women's version of the garrison cap differed from the men's mainly in shape. The banana shape was meant to better fit in with women's hairstyles popular in the 1940s. Like the service cap, jacket and skirt, the garrison cap was also available in winter and summer versions. All officers' garrison caps had a black and gold piping. The rank should be pinned on the left side of the garrison cap.

Men's Officer's Garrison Cap.png

Cap, Garrison, Officers', Wool, Elastique, Dark, OD

A men's officer's garrison cap of simple shape, which nurses sometimes chose to wear in combination with their service uniform. Pictured is a cap with the silver rank of lieutenant (1st Lt.).

1st Lieutenant Naomi A. Speary, 203d General Hospital.jpg
Women's Officer's Garrison Cap.png

Cap, Garrison, Wool, Women, Officers’

Women's officer's banana-shaped garrison cap. This type of headwear was first issued to women serving in the Women's Army Corps, only later to army nurses. The rounded shape was intended to better fit the hairstyles of the time.

Lt. Elizabeths Boss in OD Service Uniform.jpg


During World War II, the women serving in the Army Nurse Corps were issued only one type of footwear for the olive drab service uniform. These were brown leather oxfords with a heel measuring 3.8 cm (1 ½-inch) high. The shoes had a leather sole, a rubberized heel and were tied with 68.5 cm (27 inches) long brown laces. The oxfords were all-purpose footwear designed to be worn with the olive drab and beige service uniform, olive drab and beige off-duty dress, and the seersucker hospital uniform.

Unlike women serving in the Women's Army Corps and Navy Nurse Corps, army nurses were not allowed to wear pumps. This decision was argued on the grounds that any nurse could be sent to work in field conditions without notice, where oxfords and field shoes were not only more practical and comfortable, but also healthier for the feet. It was feared that women could wear pumps while on duty at the hospital, even though oxfords were prescribed by regulation. 

The change came only in September 1945, after the war had already ended. Nurses were allowed to wear brown pumps during their free time. The shoes had to have a covered toe and heel, no decorative elements, and the heel could not be higher than 6.3 cm (2 ½-inch).

Shoes, Service, Women’s, Low.png

Shoes, Service, Women’s, Low

Brown leather oxfords are stylish and comfortable shoes for women serving in the army. Army nurses wore them in combination with their service and hospital uniforms.

Brown Pumps.png


An example of brown pumps that could be worn by nurses in their spare time from September 1945. This type of shoes were purchased by women at their own expense.

In order to better protect themselves from the cold, women also had the option of wearing women's field shoes with their service uniform. In addition to stockings, it was then necessary to put on olive drab socks and roll them over the boots. Additional protection from snow, rain and mud was provided by overshoes, which were worn over the field shoes. The protective boots were made of waterproof material and had a rubber sole. They reached halfway up the calf.

Shoes, Field, Women's.png

Shoes, Field, Women’s

Lace-up field boots of a narrower cut to fit women's needs. They have 2.5 cm (1-inch) rubber heels and rubber soles.


Overshoes, Arctic, 4-Buckle

An Arctic type overshoe which will fit over the women’s field shoes, and comes halfway up the leg for protection against snow and cold. They are made of woven, water-repellent, cashmerette upper and have rubber soles. The size of the overshoe corresponds to the size of the shoes.


The rectangular leather handbag for nurses was introduced in late 1942.  It had a detachable strap, a sewn-in purse and a compartment for a mirror inside. The color matched brown oxfords.  

Until November 1943, the bag was by regulation worn on the left shoulder. Later, the rules changed. The handbag began to be worn over the shoulder, with the strap resting on the right shoulder and the purse on the left side. The strap attached to the handbag with two snaps could be detached, and the bag could be worn like a clutch bag or under the arm.

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Bag, Utility, Nurses’ Back.png

Bag, Utility, Nurses’

A leather handbag with pockets and a change purse. The lining is made of cotton poplin, OD in color. The strap can be adjusted for wearing over the shoulder or shortened for carrying in the hand, or can be removed altogether to allow for carrying under the arm. This handbag was used only by members of the Army Nurse Corps.

(The handbag in the photos is from the collection of Victoria Pageot)


The khaki necktie complemented the olive drab service uniform. It was made of a blend of cotton and mohair, making it durable and resistant to wrinkles and wear. Women's ties were similar in appearance to those worn by men, but shorter. After the war, in 1949, the color of the tie was changed to olive green.

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Necktie, Women’s

A women's khaki necktie (left) next to a men’s officer's khaki necktie (right).

Lt. Doris R. Schwartz.jpg


Nurses could wear brown leather gloves or olive drab wool gloves with their OD service uniform.

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Gloves, Leather, Dress, Women’s

Brown leather gloves for women. They were simple pull-on gloves without any decorative elements.

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Gloves, Wool, OD

A knit wool glove to be worn in cold weather.


Along with the olive drab service uniform, the nurses received a beige scarf to wear in cold weather. The scarf was made of lightweight, soft material, measuring 28 x 107 cm (11 x 42 inches).

Scarf, Women’s.png

Scarf, Women’s

Women's scarf in beige color could be worn in combination with an olive drab service uniform in cold weather. The photo shows a reproduction from Russell Armoire.


A service uniform is not complete without the right underwear. A bra, panties and garter belt help achieve the right silhouette. In the case of the olive drab uniform, the only acceptable color for stockings was neutral, with a seam in the back, of course. Tights began to be worn widely only in the 1960s. Over the undergarments, before the uniform, a full slip should be put on. The slip makes the uniform fit nicely on the body, when walking the skirt does not snag on the fasteners of the garter belt and it protects the uniform from dirt (direct contact with the body).

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With the introduction of the olive drab service uniform in 1943, nurses also received a coat to wear on cold and rainy days. It was a double-breasted trenchcoat made of windproof and waterproof cotton poplin. The coat had a detachable hood and a warm wool lining. It could have been worn with both the service and field uniform. The officer's version of this coat used by nurses had shoulder loops to which the military rank was pinned.

In November 1944, women were additionally given the option of purchasing a wool coat at their own expense. Wool coats were available in two shades: OD No. 51 and 52 and were intended to be worn only with the service uniform.

Original wartime photographs show that nurses sometimes also wore field jackets in combination with their OD service uniforms, especially in areas closer to the front. The most popular was the M-1943 women's jacket, which became available to women in late 1943.

Skirt, Jacket, Waist, Tie, Garrison Cap,

Overcoat, Field, Women’s, Officer’s

An officer's trenchcoat with a detachable hood was the first coat available to nurses who received the olive drab service uniform.

Skirt, Waist, Tie, M43 Jacket,

Jackets, Field, M-1943, Women's

Women's M-43 field jacket combined with OD  skirt and M-1 helmet. This combination was sometimes favored by nurses serving in hospitals in Europe.

U.S. Army nurses marching in overcoats.JPG
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Overcoat, Wool, Women’s, Officers' (OD 51)

Wool coat in a dark shade of OD No. 51. It is made of high-quality fabric and is designed to be worn only with the service uniform.

Wool Overcoat, Jacket, Skirt, Waist, Tie

Overcoat, Wool, Women’s, Officers' (OD 52)

The wool coat in OD shade No. 52 was not a uniform that nurses were issued by the army, but which they could purchase at their own expense if necessary.

OD51 Wool Overcoat.PNG
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