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What is No 1 Dress
No. 1 Dress, sometimes referred to as "blues", is a universal ceremonial uniform which is almost consistent throughout the British Army. No. 1 Dress is only worn on ceremonial occasions, and, in some regiments, by the duty officer. It is also regularly required to be worn by a short list of other units, senior staff officers, and officers appointed as aides to the Royal Family and to the personal staff of senior officers in command. The order is not generally issued to all units, with the khaki No. 2 Dress functioning as the main parade uniform. For most regiments and corps No. 1 dress consists of a dark blue tunic and trousers or overalls (or skirt) with a coloured peaked cap. Females should wear normal dark coloured tights when needed. Different units are distinguished by the colouring of the cap, piping on the tunic and of the welts or stripes on the trousers, as well as badges and in certain Cavalry Regiments by the colour of the collar. There are some exceptions: the tunic and trousers of The Essex Yeomanry, The Rifles and Royal Gurkha Rifles are rifle green, while the Royal Dragoon Guards and the King's Royal Hussars wear dark green and crimson overalls (tight fitting cavalry trousers) respectively. Cavalry regiments wear shoulder chains in place of shoulder straps. In the full ceremonial order of No 1 Dress, officers wear a waist sash of crimson silk while general officers wear a waist sash of gold and crimson stripes. Light cavalry regiments wear a lace cross belt in place of the sash while Rifle regiments wear a black polished cross belt. Other ranks wear a white buff or black leather belt with a regimental pattern locket, with a bayonet frog if carrying arms.
What is Mess Dress
The Royal Household
The officers of some ceremonial military corps, such as the Yeomen of the Guard and Gentlemen at Arms, are authorised to wear the evening dress of the Royal Household court uniform as a mess dress.
Admiral Alan West with Merchant Navy Officers, graduating at their 'passing out' ceremony from Warsash Maritime Academy in Southampton(2011)
The Royal Navy and some other navies distinguish between mess dress, which is now the equivalent of civilian white tie, and mess undress, which is the equivalent of black tie.
Before 1939, there were three forms of evening dress:
Ball dress (No. 2) – undress tailcoat, gold epaulettes, gold-laced trousers, white waistcoat, black bow tie, cocked hat
Mess dress (No. 7) – mess jacket, gold-laced trousers, blue waistcoat, black bow tie, cap
Mess undress (No. 8) – mess jacket, plain trousers, blue waistcoat, black bow tie, cap
Today, there are only two forms of evening dress:
Mess dress (No. 2A) – mess jacket, plain trousers, white waistcoat, black bow tie
Mess undress (No. 2B) – mess jacket, plain trousers, blue waistcoat or cummerbund, black bow tie
Officers of the rank of captain and above wear gold-laced trousers (the gold lace stripes are nicknamed "lightning conductors"), and may wear the undress tailcoat (without epaulettes), with either mess dress or mess undress. The undress tailcoat is so named to distinguish it from the full dress tailcoat that was worn during the day with full dress (No. 1), which is worn in a modified form by admirals today as ceremonial day dress. Both the undress tailcoat and the mess jacket are double-breasted, with peaked lapels and six gilt buttons, but cut to be worn single-breasted and fastened at the front with two linked gilt buttons. The undress tailcoat is fitted with scallop-flapped hip pockets with three gilt buttons on each pocket. Rank is indicated on the undress tailcoat and mess jacket by gold lace on the sleeves. When tropical rig is ordered, a white mess jacket is worn instead of the blue, with shoulder boards to indicate rank.
Mess dress and mess undress are today worn with a soft marcella-fronted shirt with a soft collar. Stiff marcella-fronted shirts and stiff wing collars were previously worn with all forms of evening dress, but were abolished first for mess undress, and finally in the mid-1990s for mess dress. Rear admirals and above may continue to wear the stiff shirt and collar with mess dress. Cummerbunds, which may be worn with mess undress instead of the blue waistcoat and with Red Sea rig (No. 2C), are frequently decorated with badges or colours proper to the ship or establishment in which the officer serves. For example, HMS Glasgow – Black Watch tartan; HMS Illustrious – green with the ship's logo (three crossed trumpets) in gold;Royal Naval Engineering College (RNEC) – engineers' purple with the RNEC lettering in gold. Traditionally, half-Wellington boots were worn with mess dress and mess undress, but today shoes are more common. The optional outer garment worn with evening dress is the boat cloak, which is a knee-length navy blue cloak lined with white silk, with four gilt buttons, and fastened at the neck with two gilt lions' heads joined with a chain. Miniature medals are worn with both mess dress and mess undress, though previously medal ribbons only were worn with mess undress on routine occasions, such as by the officer of the day. Officers who are members of orders of chivalry wear their stars and ribbons as appropriate.
The Elder Brethren of Trinity House are authorised to wear a mess dress based upon that of a Royal Navy Captain.
Mess uniforms first appeared in the British Army in about 1845. The original purpose was to provide a relatively comfortable and inexpensive alternative to the stiff and elaborate full-dress uniforms then worn by officers for evening social functions such as regimental dinners or balls. With the general disappearance of full dress uniforms after World War I, mess dress became the most colourful and traditional uniform to be retained by most officers in British and Commonwealth armies. Immediately after World War II the cheaper "blue patrols" were worn for several years as mess dress, but by 1956 the traditional uniforms had been readopted.
The formal designation of the most commonly worn mess uniform in the British Army is "No. 10 (Temperate) Mess Dress". The form varies according to regiment or corps, but generally a short mess jacket is worn, which either fastens at the neck (being cut away to show the waistcoat (vests)—this being traditionally the style worn by cavalry regiments), or is worn with a white shirt and black bow tie (traditionally the usual style for all other regiments, corps, and services).Since regimental amalgamations, the "cut away" or cavalry-style jacket has been adopted by some British Army infantry regiments such as the Royal Regiment of Wales, the Royal Regiment of Fusiliers, and corps such as the Adjutant General's Corps and the Royal Logistic Corps. Officers of the Foot Guards, Royal Engineers, the Parachute Regiment, the Royal Army Medical Corps, and the Royal Regiment of Scotland amongst others still wear the infantry style of jacket.
The colours of mess jackets and overalls reflect those of the traditional full dress uniforms of the regiments in question, as worn until at least 1914. Jackets are, therefore, usually scarlet, dark blue, or rifle green, with collars, cuffs, waistcoats, or lapels in the former facing colours of the regiments in question. In the case of those regiments which have undergone amalgamation, features of the former uniforms are often combined. Waistcoats are often richly embroidered, though with modern modifications, such as a core of cotton for gold cording instead of the thick gold cord which made these items very expensive prior to World War II. Non-commissioned officers' mess dress is usually simpler in design, but in the same colours as officers of their regiment.
Most British Army regiments' mess dress incorporates high-waisted, very tight trousers known as overalls, the bottoms of which buckle under leather Wellington or George boots. Ornamental spurs are usually worn by cavalry regiments and corps that traditionally were mounted; some other regiments and corps prescribe spurs for field officers, since in former times these officers would have been mounted. The Rifles do not wear spurs at any rank, following Light Infantry traditions since historically no Light Infantry officer rode on horseback.Scottish regiments wear kilts or tartan trews, and some wear tartan waistcoats as well.
In "No. 11 Warm Weather Mess Dress", a white drill hip-length jacket is worn with either a waistcoat in the same material or a cummerbund of regimental pattern. Blue and various shades of red or green are the most common colours for the cummerbund. Trousers or overalls are the same as in No. 10 Dress.
Female officers and soldiers wear mess jackets in a pattern similar to those of their male counterparts over dark-coloured ankle-length evening dresses. Black hand bags may be carried, and black evening shoes are worn.
White tie apparel is usually obtained from the mess kit by wearing a detachable wing-collar dress shirt, gold shirt studs, a white dress waistcoat, and often white cotton gloves. The black bow tie is retained.
Royal Air Force
No. 5 Mess dress in the Royal Air Force is similar to that in the Royal Navy, except that the jacket and trousers are in mid-blue. For the most formal occasions, such as court balls and royal evening receptions, a white bow tie is worn with a white waistcoat. For all other evening events, a black bow tie with a mid-blue waistcoat (No. 5B) or a slate grey cummerbund (No. 5) is worn. Cummerbunds of a particular squadron or unit design may also be worn. A further variation is the No. 5A which has a white waistcoat and white bow tie. Among Scottish-based units, a kilt of grey Clan Douglas tartan was initially authorised, but the recently approved official RAF tartan is now authorised. The tartan, designed in 1988, was officially recognised by the Ministry of Defence in 2001.A variation of No. 1 Service Dress (SD) is also permitted; the usual blue shirt and black tie are replaced with a white shirt and black bow tie. This dress is referred to as No. 4 Mess Dress.
For women, mess dress currently consists of the same style high-waisted blue-grey single-breasted jacket and white marcella shirt as men, a small bow tie and cummerbund, and a straight ankle-length blue-gray skirt, worn with patent-leather court shoes and barely-black tights or stockings. From the 1970s and prior to the introduction of current women's mess dress in 1996, female officers wore a royal blue Empire line dress made of crimplene material with a loose mandarin neck, long sleeves, and an ankle length hem. Rank was indicated on a small enamelled brooch worn near the neck.
British policePolice officers may wear mess dress to formal dinners if appropriate, but is it most typically worn by officers who have achieved the rank of Superintendent or above. The mess dress of
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