Message on changes to the CF Dress Instructions

Video / July 5, 2022



Many of us have grown up with an ingrained view of what a traditional sailor, soldier or aviator must look like. And over the ages, uniformity has been a method used to instill discipline.

But uniformity does not equal discipline or operational effectiveness, any more than the colour or length of your hair defines your commitment or professional competence.

Uniforms and appearance standards are influenced by contemporary trends and tastes. So, as our society evolves, our military standards also change and evolve.

We will balance our traditions with societal expectations and the needs of the service, while addressing the inherent tension created by accelerated generational change.

What will not change is our need to be a disciplined and operationally effective force.


We are here to advise you that changes are coming to the appearance regulations in the Dress Instructions that govern the Canadian Armed Forces.

Aspects of our Dress Instructions will be modernized, to better reflect the changing tastes of the Canadian society we serve. In September, we opened the online clothing catalogue so that choice was no longer restricted by gender, allowing members to choose the clothing options that makes them most comfortable.

And there is more to come - amplifying details will be promulgated in the coming months.


We know there are widely varying opinions. We’ve been consulting and listening to members from across the forces – including all of our Defence Advisory Groups – and the next generation of Canadians who will follow us.

We have also consulted with allies, who have told us that we are several years ahead of them, and with these changes will be leading the way.

Some will consider this progress, while others may see this as unwarranted. We must be wary of the false dichotomy – that we must choose between changing our dress and appearance or be strong. We can do both.

We can change these subjective aspects of our culture – and these changes can be a source of strength.


The upcoming changes to the Dress Instructions will remove subjective rules and will promote greater inclusiveness. Certain existing restrictions will be eased and other restrictions will be lifted entirely.

The following tenets remain and will always be met: our uniforms and appearance will be safe, operationally effective, professional, inclusive and reflective of the societal norms and expectations. Leaders at all levels will play a role in ensuring these terms are met.

Your chain of command will be communicating with you on these changes and their impact on our armed forces in the coming months.

Your support and leadership will be essential to these efforts. We all have a role to play as we work together to continually grow, evolve and transform our modern fighting force.


The Canadian Armed Forces is based on solid ethical principles and values of mutual respect. Our appearance in uniform, just like our standards, shall always be positive and professional at all times.

We will continue to respect positive aspects of our history as we embrace our bright future. I thank each and every one of you for the many outstanding contributions you make while defending Canadians and our national interests at home and abroad.

You each represent the very best this country has to offer as you deliver excellence through your commitment, skill, and steadfast leadership.

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