When it comes to military dress, uniforms can run the gamut from the good the bad and the ugly. One Air Force item in particular has the latter two squarely on lock: The cardigan sweater.
This blue frock, which looks like something my grandma knitted after a few too many glasses of Christmas wine, is enough to put Mr. Rogers’ (may he rest in peace) illustrious sweater collection to shame.
Pulling this item off the hanger, we can all but guarantee the first thing you’ll do once you get this baby buttoned up over your midsection is break the fourth wall to ask, “Won’t you be my neighbor?”
A navy-colored button-down, this is perhaps the most old-man item ever introduced into the service, which is known for having some of the freshest digs out of all the branches. But hey, at least it looks warm.
“The current version of the cardigan sweater was adopted in 2007,” an Air Force spokesperson told Military Times. “The sweater itself was initially introduced in 1996 and was a slightly lighter blue color than the current version.”
And in case you’re wondering how it feels, this off-indigo dream is 50 percent acrylic and 50 percent non-irritation wool blend. So only half it will be insanely itchy. Praise be.
But how can it be worn, you might ask?
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“The cardigan sweater can only be worn with the service uniform,” according to the spokesperson. “It can be worn under the lightweight blue jacket, the topcoat and the all-weather coat. Tie/tab is optional. Officers will wear shoulder mark rank insignia on the epaulets. Enlisted Airmen will wear metal rank insignia ⅝ inch from the shoulder/sleeve seam of the epaulet.”
We should also make note that no name tag is worn on the cardigan sweater, which is great because poking holes through this delicate weave would likely cause it to unravel, leaving you with a sad ball of blue string that not even your six cats will want to bat around.
And pregnant airmen everywhere can rejoice, because “when worn with maternity uniforms, members may wear sweater unbuttoned outdoors.”
But only outdoors. Because everyone knows baby bellies instantly disappear within the confines of military buildings.
About Sarah Sicard
Sarah Sicard is the Digital Editor of Military Times. She previously served as Army Times Editor. Other work can be found at National Defense Magazine, Task & Purpose, Defense News, Fast Company, Business Insider and AdWeek.