Triple creases on back of Army uniforms

As I sat on the Metro today (not my usual commute), watching military types getting on and off around the Pentagon, I noticed that the khaki Army uniforms had three vertical creases down the back. And I’ve never seen any other shirt creased like that. Usually creases in the back are an artifact of folding, and in that case there are two creases, and they’re not ironed in on purpose. Even if they are supposed to be ironed in to make fold creases more even and crisp, you don’t need three.

Sleeve creases I get, that’s because you have to iron the sleeve if you don’t have a Dry Cleaner’s Big-Ass Shirt Press Machine that steams a whole shirt in one shot with no creases at all. But a well-ironed shirt should have no creases other than on the sleeves if you have a proper ironing board. (Listen up, guys who crease the yoke and cuffs.)

And I noticed that no other uniforms had the same triple crease. So why does the Army do this?

They’re called pintucks, and are a sewn-in detail. Done right, and maintained right, they look sharp. It’s easy to screw up their creation, and as you note, they do complicate ironing or pressing.

I don’t think there’s any purpose to them except to look good.

Many are sewn in today, but certainly not all, I would never have had mine sewn in, just not professional. I used to iron my own uniforms, the laundries and cleaners were expensive and often didn’t do it properly, it’s pretty easy to put in the triple creases once you learn how. BTW there are also two in front, through the exact center of the breast pockets. Lots of details to the proper wearing of military uniforms: gig lines, brass on brass, shoe lacing, blousing of trouser legs, tucking in the shirt, etc.

The ones I saw were not sewn in. I have seen sewn-in creases in police uniforms, or security guard uniforms, assuming that they couldn’t be expected to be bothered with proper pressing. Just never noticed three on the back.

In Navy ROTC in college we were required to iron in triple creases in the back, and the two creases through the pockets in the front. When I was commissioned, I continued the practice throughout my career. I also used shirt stays to keep uniform shirts crisply tucked in.

Uniform shirts without creases look like crap.

Some of the Navy khaki shirts that came out towards the end of my career (late '90s) had sewn-in creases.

So how do shirt stays work? What do they clip to?

The Army does not have khaki shirts. Could you have been mistaken as to the branch? Marines, perhaps?

The creases you are referring to are called “Military Creases”. It’s just one extra thing you can do to your uniform so that it presents a crisp, sharp, professional appearance.
They’re just extra creases you can add to your shirt to show that you speant more time and more detail ironing your shirt. This is supposed to show everyone that you have more pride in your appearance, and you’re more professional. But usually it just means you pay extra at the cleaners. It’s like super shiny boots. Either you took a lot of pride and a lot of effort to shine them, or you just paid some shine shop to do it. It does at least show that you care about your appearance. So that’s something.
Creases in the sleeves are allowed. 1 across the back, and three vertical on the back are allowed. Two in the front centered on the pockets is also allowed.

Sewn creases are NOT ALLOWED on Army uniforms.

These are the stays that I use. Best invention since sliced bread I tell ya.

[sub]As long as you don’t mind a good portion of your leg hair getting rubbed off[/sub]

I should add, Rick, the stays in robby’s link attach to the bottom of your shirt and the top of your socks. I tried them briefly until I discovered the stirrup type. The stirrup type are much easier to deal with.

Military Creases are ironed in deliberately.

Yea, but if two looks nice, THREE looks even better!! But you dont even need 2. Military Creases are optional.

Those police/guard uniforms have always struck me as cheating and poor imitations of the Real McCoy. There’s nothing like having a fresh pressed cotton uniform shirt straight from the cleaners loaded with so much starch that you hear a ripping sound when you slip your hand through the starched-shut sleeve.

It didn’t cost anything more on the bases I was on: just tell them “extra starch and military crease please.”

As A.R. Cane states, they really are quite easy to do, in fact, they were just about the easiest part of ironing a shirt.

For the back:

  1. Fold the shirt straight down the center, laying one side seam directly on top of the other. Starch and iron a sharp crease down the center of the back.
  2. Now fold the back so that one of the side seams is laying directly on the new “spine” crease. Starch and iron.
  3. Repeat step 2 for the other side.

The front is just as easy: just fold each side of the front in half, matching the side seam and button edge, similar to step 2 above. Adjust a little to get the seam in the center of the pocket and then starch it in.

They’re optional in the sense that you don’t have to do it but you’ll catch hell if you don’t. I mean, who the hell decided that it would be a good idea to iron BDUs? They’re utilities, for Pete’s sake! You’re supposed to get them all dirty and bitched up, not look like an evergreen fashion plate and crunch like a bowl of raisin bran when you walk somewhere.

Thank God I wear flight suits. Fliers are so eccentric that we don’t even have to wash the damn things if we don’t want to. Nobody cares. Polished boots? Ha! It is to laugh.

Thanks for the info guys. I may try a pair for wear with my suits.

Just in the Air Force. :stuck_out_tongue:

Seriously, the military creases are a big feature for what I’d call “shore rotations” where the military member is expected to be seen by the public.

There were times that we were encouraged to put on inspection dungarees. (Which is a working uniform like the BDUs.) Some people would even iron in the military creases on thier dungaree shirts. But those times were rare in the extreme. For the most part dungarees were worn for hot, sweaty work. And no one really expected them to look good. But, again, that’s also a uniform that’s worn mostly, in my experience, where the public won’t see it. It had been something of a revolution during my time in when the CNO allowed working uniforms to be allowed to be worn off installations. Which meant, for me, I no longer had to wear civvies into work, then change into dungarees at the prototype, then change out (with no shower facility) and go home. A very popular decision.

“In The Beginning” the original thought was all you would do would be press them (warm) so as to remove rumpling, flatten the collars, pockets and flaps, and look smooth, but not to crease or starch them or use “colorsafe bleach” or the hot cycle (washer or dryer) on them. Attempting to do a “military” crisp-pressing on the original 1980s BDU’s eventually would lead to very shiny spots over every button, seam, stitching or ripstop thread; trying to launder them like you did old-time fatigues made them turn purple. Plus they claimed you ruined the alleged IR coating.
Alas, when they were introduced (1982) there were still so many officers and noncoms who had spent twenty years starching their khakis and OD utilities into knife-edged cardboard, that within a few years it became expected that in order to show you were “highly motivated” you should achieve the same effect with the BDU. Ditto with the class-B shirt vis-a-vis the old khaki.
We’ll see what happens now: MARPAT and ACU are supposed to be worn uncreased and unstarched, as befits battle gear, but I’m betting that already in some in-garrison CONUS REMF unit somewhere someone with not much to do is thinking why should these guys get off easy on the ironing…

And OtakuLoki brings up a good point: when the BDU became a standard wear-virtually-all-the-time uniform for everyone, the pressure to have it look sharp when in-garrison or walking-out went up.

When was this great event? I wouldn’t have minded shaving a few minutes off either end of the already-long 12h shifts at Prototype.

Last couple of months at prototype - 1990-1991, and then while I was on Virginia - as long as we weren’t expecting to work in public view (And who lets snipes out for fresh air?) we could wear dungarees directly to and from the site, or base.

Want to see something funny? Come over here and watch all the conscripts walking around in their BDUs with their multi-color unit and qualification patches. Kind of defeats the purpose of camo, doesn’t it?

[Side Story]

Man, you should see my current squadron, and our red hats. BDUs/DCUs, it doesn’t matter. We’re all sniper bait anyways, thanks to our brain lids. But then again, it makes stand out and people recognize RED HORSE walking around. :smiley:

Shit, I had a Chief Master Sergeant once ask me why I “insisted on wearing shiny rank when CENTAF dictates your rank has to be subdued so it blends in!”. I replied back, “Chief, look at my cover. I really don’t think the rank blending in is going to matter!”

[/Side Story]

I don’t shine my desert boots. They’re already steel toed. :smiley: