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The Uniform Behind the Man

 Posted by on February 28, 2013 at 18:00
Feb 282013

Staff Blogger Kristi


Isn’t attraction a funny little thing? Some people are a sucker for eyes, others for intelligence, still others are weak in the knees for a dapper suit, but chances are if we’ve married a man in uniform we probably fall into the cliché, “There’s something about a man (or woman) in uniform.”

That little “something,” whether it’s the symbol of heroism, the clean cut appearance or just seeing a man dressed in an outfit that matches—complete with accessories I might add—that uniform is something special.

Then, somewhere between the first date and five years of marriage we become really familiar with that uniform or, should I say, uniforms. There is one for every occasion in every season and each one has coordinating shoes and hats—I mean covers.

As if that isn’t enough, each uniform has a different name, like I wasn’t just keeping my head above water with all the acronyms; now there is more to remember! At this point in my life, I can’t even begin to keep all those names straight. Maybe one day I’ll be able to connect the name with the uniform, but until then I’ll continue to call them as I see them (e.g. camo or the one he wore for our wedding).


At our house, I’m in charge of the laundry. Not because of old school gender roles or anything, I just really like my clothes and I’d prefer not to see one of my favorite sweaters shrunken down to my son’s 3T size in the dryer. My affection for my wardrobe has landed me the less-than-glamorous job of laundering my husband’s many uniform pieces.

I welcomed uniform laundry duty in the beginning under the notion that my husband wears the same thing every day—a flight suit, which is essentially an adult onesie, so how much laundry could there really be?

Apparently the universe saw my rhetorical question as a challenge because I was bombarded by piles of sweaty undershirts and PT gear and an occasional flight suit that smelled like—well, let’s just say unpleasant—because it had been worn for two to three consecutive days until it no longer passed my husband’s “sniff for freshness” test.  In a very short period of time, I learned the following about laundering military-issued ensembles:

  • Undershirts and PT gear must multiply in the hamper.
  • It is difficult to distinguish (for me anyway) when undershirts and PT gear are right side or inside out. I almost always assume incorrectly.
  • Daily, washable uniforms have far too many pockets that can go unchecked for earplugs, pens and paper, but there are rarely unclaimed tips for the laundry goddess.
  • Flight suits worn past their prime require an extra scoop of some powerful detergent.
  • A joyous homecoming is inevitably followed by trying to wash the desert out of one to three bags of clothes.
Donning the uniform(s)

Perhaps our husbands get spoiled wearing the same thing almost every workday. When the time comes to get dressed up in one of the fancy uniforms, it’s like dressing a cranky kid in itchy, constricting clothes. I always look forward to seeing my husband look like a million bucks, but the road to getting there can be irritating.

Depending on which event we’re attending and where it falls on the calendar, there is always the question of which pants to wear, followed by which belt. Once that is established, my husband remembers he should probably get his uniform dry-cleaned. We’re lucky if this realization hits three days before the event. See why he isn’t in charge of the laundry?

Finishing touches include making sure medals are perfectly aligned and in precisely the right spot on my husband’s chest, any and all loose threads are removed, he’s lint rolled and that pesky little clasp right at his Adam’s apple is closed.

Making sure our men look good in their uniforms isn’t that tough in theory, but there are plenty of meticulous steps along the way. As much as I complain about the endless piles of laundry that are always inside out and smell like stinky boy, it’s just a little thing I can do to help my husband do what he does. And when all of the finishing touches are done and the childhood crankiness of having to get dressed up passes, I’m always proud to be on the arm of my man in uniform!

  3 Responses to “The Uniform Behind the Man”

  1. Your post was right on point. I fly too, and I hate to admit it, I also do the “sniff’ test with the pickle green flight suit. Usually, because I don’t sweat as much as guys do, I can use mine for over a week!

    One can never have enough black t-shirts, brown t-shirts, and the like. I’m wondering when I get old and have no use for them anymore if they will just end up being my car wash rags…

    Oh, and as I was reading and saw the pictures I noticed your husband was somebody I went to API with in Pensacola and saw again in Iraq once. Please tell him I say hello!

  2. Cute! I do my husband’s laundry too (although, I refuse to fold. I mean…if there’s a wife out there who cheerfully and willingly contends with the ball-o-velcro, I salute her.), and the one way that I get around checking pockets is that we have a common understanding here. I don’t check pockets, so if he doesn’t, then I’m not responsible for ink stains that may occur as a result. He’s also responsible for turning all of his uniforms inside-out before placing them in the hamper. It’s not that I’m trying to be mean, it’s just that I’m not a fan of putting my hands inside of those things. :)

  3. @Vanessa: What a small world…or small military community…or both…Thanks for sharing your “sniff test” confession! Anything to remind me that my husband is the norm and not the stinky exception,is greatly appreciated! :)

    @Michelle: I might have to borrow your laundry rules. You are like a well-oiled laundry machine; I love it!

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