Black Mess Dress with Ultramarine Piping

Started by kd8gua, February 06, 2013, 05:21:14 AM

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I'm looking for some information about the black Mess Dress.

What color pant stripe did they use? Ultramarine blue or satin black?
When was this replaced by the current style blue mess dress?
Was the black service cap authorized for CAP, and if so, was a silver or ultramarine chin strap worn?

Capt Brad Thomas
Communications Officer
Columbus Composite Squadron

Assistant Cadet Programs Activities Officer
Ohio Wing HQ


I don't have the relevant manuals handy, but I'll shoot from memory:

The pants stripe was the satin black on the black Mess Dress, but the sleeve stripe was the blue braid.  The changeover from white/black to midnight blue Mess Dress was in the early 1980s (1983 sticks in my mind for some reason).  I know this because I joined CAP in 1981 and went to at least two formal events where everybody was still in white Mess Dress (the midnight blue was being phased in).

For the white/black Mess Dress, the service cap was authorized, with CAP hat insignia and ultramarine blue chin strap.

Hope it helps ...

Jack Bagley, Ed. D.
Lt. Col., CAP (now inactive)
Gill Robb Wilson Award No. 1366, 29 Nov 1991
Admiral, Great Navy of the State of Nebraska
Honorary Admiral, Navy of the Republic of Molossia


It went away sometime in the mid-1980s in stages. The Air Force used to have four formal uniforms: a formal evening dress uniform with a white tie and vest that was white in the summer and black in the winter months -- or as directed -- and a mess dress uniform with black tie that was also white or black as directed. There were corresponding white or black service hats and even a cape.

If memory serves me correctly the white uniforms were the first ones retired and the black one was worn long enough that I remember wearing it twice in 1987 as an Air Force Reservist. What I remember most about this uniform was the almost three-dimensional quality of the metallic-embroidered stripes (enlisted rank insignia). I was a NCO at the time -- and my first mess dress was actually purchased at the Grissom AFB thrift shop. It was a former wing commander's uniform. Also, I think there is/was a provision in the uniform regs that allowed retirees to continue wearing it after retirement because I went to a formal dining out at Westover AFB in 1990 and and saw retirees wearing the old mess dress.

Civil Air Patrol approval to wear this uniform wasn't until the 1970s, and the Air Force required it to be distinctive enough to draw a difference between the Air Force and CAP versions -- that's where the ultramarine blue braid came from. Also CAP members were required to wear the CAP Seal hubcap on the right side of the jacket near the buttons.

It was this uniform that led to the development of CAP minature medals, and yes, CAP members wore the appropriate garrison hat with the authorized hat device and buttons.

When the Air Force went ot the midnight blue uniform, the CAP changed as well. The new uniform was a product of the McPeak years and the hat was dropped because it was rarely worn.


The 1984 CAP bookstore catalog has a color picture of, and lists, only the black shoulderboards. The mess dress uniform itself is not lsited.

The 1985 catalog lists and describes the New (blue) Mess Dress  uniform, and says that the "CAP seal must be worn with the CAP shoulderboards."

1988 is the last catalog that sold the black shoulderboards.


Mitchell 1969

Quote from: flyboy1 on February 06, 2013, 12:21:28 PM

It was this uniform that led to the development of CAP minature medals, and yes, CAP members wore the appropriate garrison hat with the authorized hat device and buttons.

That would have been "...appropriate service cap..."  (garrison cap is the flight cap).
Bernard J. Wilson, Major, CAP

Mitchell 1969; Earhart 1971; Eaker 1973. Cadet Flying Encampment, License, 1970. IACE New Zealand 1971; IACE Korea 1973.

CAP has been bery, bery good to me.