Navy seeks to modernize image with updated uniform and grooming policy

New updates include new male and female hairstyles, more opportunities for men to wear earrings and updates to authorized glasses and sunglasses
Updated Navy hairstyles .png
Posted at 8:19 PM, Aug 31, 2021
and last updated 2021-08-31 20:25:25-04

NORFOLK, Va. - The Navy has updated its uniform and grooming policy.

Navy officials announced Tuesday that the branch has launched NAVADMIN 183/21, which includes 16 updates intended to eliminate subjectivity in policy application and modernize the Navy's image.

The new updates include new male and female hairstyles, more opportunities for men to wear earrings and updates to glasses and sunglasses that are allowed.

Below are some of the changes:


Navy Uniform Regulations spell out how all Sailors can and cannot wear their hair, but periodically the Navy updates these rules as practices become mainstream.

“These changes recognize hairstyles that are now pretty standard in society and is also aligned with presenting a professional military appearance while in uniform,” said Rob Carroll, head of uniform matters on the staff of the chief of naval personnel.

For men, this means officially sanctioned styles now include bald, flat tops, faded and high and tight hairstyles. All styles include allowing squared or rounded gradual tapers in the back of the head. Sideburns are authorized but cannot exceed the hair length of the haircut where the sideburns and side of the head intersect. Sideburns with bald hairstyles are not allowed.

Navy updated hairstyles

For women, the rules now allow very short hair styles to include showing the scalp. This includes tapered back and sides of the head. Razor-cut bald styles are not authorized except when prescribed for treating medical conditions.

When wearing very short hairstyles, female Sailors are allowed one hard part that may be cut, shaved, clipped or naturally placed into the scalp. The hard part must be above the temple and no higher than the crown, where the side and top of the head meet. One hard part can be on either the right or left side of the head and must run straight “fore and aft,” the rules say. They can be no longer than four inches nor broader than one-eighth of an inch.

Navy updated hairstyles

“This gives women more options for greater ease on hair care, especially while on deployment when longer styles can be tougher to maintain,” Carroll said. “Female Sailors have been asking for this flexibility.”

Earrings for Men

Earrings still can’t be worn by male Sailors in uniform but now are authorized while wearing civilian clothes in a leave or liberty status both on and off military installations or while using government transportation. Earrings are not allowed when performing official duties in civilian attire, the rules say.

Accented Names

For Sailors whose legal names contain accents, punctuation marks can now be used in name tags, name patches, or name tapes on Navy uniforms.

Higher Heels for Women

For female Sailors wanting a bit more lift in their high-heels, uniform pumps up to 3-inches in height are now authorized, up from the previously approved height of two and 5/8 inches. Carroll said this is now considered the standard heel height for females in civilian business attire. Sailors can wear commercially procured shoes if they also comply with all other rules for uniform shoes (color, design and fabric).

Sun and Prescription Eyeglass Options and rules

Prescription glasses and sunglasses frames worn in uniform must now conform to new rules.

Frame colors can only be silver, gray, black, navy blue, brown or gold. They can, however, be transparent or translucent. Sunglasses can also be green and sport small logos.

“There are just so many options available today for glasses and we needed to get some standardization of appearance in uniform,” Carroll said. “This change allows for a wide variety of options, ease of compliance and enforcement as well as maintaining a professional military appearance.”

Retainer straps can be worn only for foreign object debris prevention and safety. Only black straps are authorized and must be worn snugly against the head. When not in use, eyeglasses cannot be worn on top of the head or hanging around the neck.

Effective date of changes vary pending the policy change, so please read NAVADMIN 183/21 to see when they go into effect.

More uniform information is available on the Navy Uniform Matters Website.