Dress instructions | Chapter 1 Command, control and staff duties

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  1. All Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) members shall wear the uniforms prescribed by the Chief of the Defence Staff (CDS), in accordance with QR&O 17.01.
  2. This publication, issued under CDS authority, details CAF dress and personal appearance policy, authorized dress items and the method of wearing all uniforms and accoutrements.
  3. CAF Dress Instructions shall be interpreted as follows: if an item is not included in these instructions, it is not authorized.
  4. Changes in dress policy, dress instructions or uniforms, or in the designs of uniforms, uniform accessories, accoutrements or insignia, shall only be made with the approval of the CDS or, on his behalf, by the Chief Military Personnel, National Defence Headquarters (NDHQ/CMP).
  5. The CDS and CMP are advised by:
    1. the environmental Commanders of the Royal Canadian Navy, Canadian Army and Royal Canadian Air Force, who are the principal advisers on Navy, Army and Air Force distinctive environmental uniforms (DEU);
    2. the National Defence Clothing and Dress Committee (NDCDC), which provides the focal point for coordinating the views of all environments and organizations, and approves routine changes within established policy (see paragraphs 11. to 14.); and
    3. personnel branch advisers, who submit routine comments through the NDCDC.
  6. In accordance with these instructions the Commanders of Commands are delegated authority to establish rules for the design and wear of their respective operational orders of dress. See Chapter 5, Annex D, paragraph 2.
  7. Commanders at all levels shall ensure that personnel under their command, whether environmentally or extra-environmentally employed, are dressed in accordance with these instructions.


  1. Control is exercised by local commanders who may standardize the dress of subordinates on any occasion, including the wear of accoutrements and alternative or optional items, subject to overall command direction. See also Chapter 2, Section 1, paragraph 44.
  2. High standards of dress, deportment, and grooming are universally recognized as marks of a well-trained, disciplined and professional force. Commanders shall maintain the standards at all times to reinforce these characteristics for peace or war. Unauthorized modification of dress demonstrates inefficient and undisciplined training and a failure of those in command to focus on the purpose of a uniformed armed force. See also Chapter 2, Section 1, paragraphs 2. to 4; and Chapter 2, paragraph 5, and section 3 on spiritual accommodation.
  3. Officers cannot delegate their leadership responsibilities. They are assisted by warrant and non- commissioned officers, who control standards and compliance by all of their subordinates (see also A-DH-201- 000/PT-000, CAF Manual of Drill and Ceremonial, Chapter 1, Section 1, paragraph 12 and Chapter 7, Section 1, paragraph 3).


  1. NDCDC provides:
    1. the focal point for all Department of National Defence (DND) non-operational clothing and dress matters, including rules and regulations, administrative, procedural and traditional aspects, and the coordination of design and development;
    2. an overview of operational clothing issues to ensure that there are no conflicts before such items are forwarded to the Programme Management Board;
    3. advice and recommendations to senior management on clothing and dress matters, including clothing allowance; and
    4. decisions within established departmental policy on clothing and dress matters which require resolution at departmental level.
  2. NDCDC is composed of the following Chair, members and advisers:
    1. Chair 
      1. Assistant CMP
    2. Members
      1. CPO1 of the Navy
      2. Army Sergeant-Major
      3. CWO of the Air Force
      4. CMP
      5. CWO
    3. Permanent Advisers
      1. Director History and Heritage
      2. Director Soldier Systems Programme Management
      3. Canadian Forces Chief Warrant Officer
  3. The Secretary is provided by DHH.
  4. Submissions and recommendations on clothing and dress matters, including proposed changes to these Dress Instructions, shall be formally presented to the Committee through the normal chain of  command. Proposals shall be staffed, through the appropriate Branch Adviser as necessary, to the commander of the appropriate environmental Command, then to NDHQ/DHH for secretarial, committee or higher approval. See also Chapter 2, Section 1, paragraph 25.


  1. Standard term meanings and definitions of terms are used throughout this publication. Where deemed necessary, further explanations of terms are included in the relevant text. Specific definitions and explanations follow.
  2. Standard definitions follow (listed alphabetically).
Small articles, such as cuff links, worn as adjuncts to various orders of dress. (accessoires)
Items of the service member’s outfit other than arms and garments, e.g., aiguillettes, Royal cyphers, ceremonial waist belts, shoulder sashes, pace sticks and canes. (attributs)
Air Force.
Personnel allocated an air environmental identity and the ceremonial, mess and service dress which matches that identity. (Force aérienne)
Personnel allocated a land environmental identity and the ceremonial, mess and service dress which matches that identity. (Armée [de terre])
Categories of Dress.
Classes of uniforms designed to support a portion of the spectrum of activity from ceremonial duties to operations in the fleet, field, or air, i.e. ceremonial, mess, service, operational and occupational dress. (catégories de tenue)
Ceremonial Dress.
A category of uniform worn on formal occasions with orders, decorations and medals and other ceremonial accoutrements and accessories as deemed appropriate for the occasion. (tenue de cérémonie)
Climatic Clothing.
Clothing designed  to  provide  protection from extreme climatic conditions and which is provided on either personal loan or temporary issue, e.g., parkas, wind pants, mukluks, etc. (vêtements adaptés au climat)
Naval Combat Dress
The black operational clothing worn by all personnel when aboard ship. (tenue de combat de la MARINE)
Distinctive Environment Uniform (DEU).
Uniforms which identify the personal, permanent allocation of CAF members to one of the three functional environments. (uniformes distinctifs pour les trois éléments UDE)
The customary functional division of the CAF, i.e. the Navy, Army, Air Force and Cansofcom. (armée)
Environmental Colours.
For these purposes, the environmental winter service dress colours of navy black, army rifle green, and air force light blue (traditional service colours, used for other applications, are “navy blue” which is a tone of black, army scarlet, and air force light blue). (couleurs propres à chaque armée)
Extreme Cold/Wet Weather Clothing System (ECOWW).
The Air Force blue operational environmental clothing worn by air element personnel. (tenue pour très grand froid et temps de pluie)
Field Combat Clothing.
The Canadian Disruptive Pattern (CADPAT) operational combat clothing worn by personnel during land training, operations, or routine activities. (vêtements de combat)
Flying Clothing.
The operational clothing worn by aircrew. (vêtements de vol)
Full Dress.
The elaborate and embellished ceremonial uniforms which reflect the heritage of the organizations that they represent. These uniforms are rarely provided at public expense. (grande tenue)
Maternity Dress.
Clothing items authorized for wear by pregnant members and those who have just given birth in lieu of service or other regular dress items. (tenue de maternité)
Mess Dress.
A category of formal evening dress uniforms, worn at military and appropriate civilian social functions. (tenue de mess)
Personnel allocated a maritime environmental identity and the ceremonial, mess and service dress which matches that identity. (Marine)
Occupational Dress.
Clothing worn by those working in unique occupations, such as nurses, cooks, fire fighters, chaplains, and individuals requiring safety clothing and equipment to carry out their tasks. (tenue de travail spécialisée)
Operational Dress.
A category of functional uniforms for wear in operations or operational training. (tenue opérationnelle)
Optional Items.
Those items of clothing which are authorized for wear at a commander’s or member’s discretion, but which are not provided at public expense. (articles facultatifs)
Orders, Decorations and Medals.
The insignia of national honours, suspended by their ribbons, and worn in accordance with Chapter 4. (ordres, décorations et médailles)
Orders of Dress.
Specific compositions of dress items which, by regulation, are worn together. (tenues réglementaires)
Personal Loan Clothing.
Scaled public clothing and equipment which is retained for the duration of a member’s service or until the requirement ceases; examples include load-carrying webbing, flying clothing, combat clothing and divers’ wet suits. This clothing and equipment is issued and maintained at public expense. (vêtements fournis à titre de prêt personnel)
Service Dress.
A category of uniform which meets all CAF public image standards for military service under any circumstances. (tenue de service)
Temporary Loan Clothing.
Scaled public clothing and equipment issued from a Distribution Account (DA) to an individual, military or civilian, because of his/her temporary employment or location, and returned on termination of the special circumstances; examples include maternity dress, parkas, wind pants, coveralls and respirators. This clothing and equipment is issued and maintained at public expense. (vêtements prêtés à titre provisoire)
Items of clothing or equipment worn on, or in a manner which indicates, ordinary or less formal occasions. An historical term, now  only used in specific instances, such as full dress worn with undress (service/forage/etc.) caps, navy optional high-collar white jacket, and army patrol dress. See also “undress ribbons”. (petite tenue)
Undress Ribbons.
The ribbons only of orders, decorations and medals, worn in accordance with Chapter 4. (ruban de petite tenue)


  1. Selected dress items are described in these instructions in technical terms not commonly found in all dictionaries. CAF meanings and usage are explained below for greater clarity (listed alphabetically).
A plaited cord ending with needles, points or aglets worn to distinguish several types of service personnel. (aiguillette)
Woven ribbon or cord used to trim or bind cloth. Its design and placement can be used for identification or as an insignia (galon)
A headdress without a brim all the way around, e.g., beret, wedge cap. A peaked cap has a projecting brim on the front. (casquette)
The end part of a sleeve, where the material of the sleeve is turned back or a separate band is sewn on; the colour dictated by the facing colour of the branch, corps or regiment. Mess dress cuffs are “pointed” with the exception of several Scottish regimental patterns. (see also: Surgeon Cuff) (manchette)
An ornate piece of cloth and embroidery worn on the shoulder – originating from a need to keep a shoulder sash or belt in position (épaulette)
The cuffs, collar and trimmings of a tunic or jacket, usually in a contrasting colour. Originally, a garment lining, often meant to be turned back, as on an open collar. A military organization’s facing colour is one of its distinguishing marks. (parements)
Field Service Cap
A cloth folding or “wedge cap” (see below). Originally designed for wear during field operations and training, it may now also be worn as an undress cap with full and undress uniforms. (calot de campagne)
Forage Cap
An undress peaked cap (see “cap”) which may be worn with army full and undress uniforms. Originally designed for casual and fatigue wear in the field (“foraging”). (casquette plate)
The ornamental braid or cord fastening on a tunic. A frog is an ornamental loop over a button or similar device. (brandebourg)
A headdress with a brim all around the central crown. (chapeau)
Muslim member’s hair and neck covering. (hidjab)
Gold, yellow, silver or white braid with ornamental stitching used to trim uniforms. (galon ornemental)
Close fitting formal trousers strapped under the instep to hold them in place; or, for occupational clothing, a loose-fitting garment worn over others to keep them clean. Formal overalls may be worn in lieu of regular trousers with certain ceremonial or mess dress uniforms by those whose appointment reflects an earlier cavalry or horse-mounted occupation. (pantalon fuseau/salopette)
Peaked Cap.
(See “cap”). (casquette à visière)
A narrow band of material used to trim edges and seams of clothing. (passepoil)
Service Cap
A peaked cap (see “cap”) designed and coloured for wear with service dress uniforms. (casquette de service)
Shoulder Board
A removable epaulet having a firm resilient waterproof foundation. (see shoulder strap). (épaulette rigide)
Shoulder Cord
Gold or silver cord, straight or twisted worn as a kind of shoulder strap. (cordon d’épaule)
Shoulder Strap
A short soft piece (band strip) of uniform material set into the shoulder seam of the tunic, jacket or shirt, fastened usually at the collar end with a button. May be plain or embroidered to distinguish the rank grouping of the wearer. (patte d’épaule)
A small cloth sleeve bearing rank and other identifying insignia, slipped onto a garment's shoulder or coat strap. (fourreau [de grade])
Surgeon cuff
A slit cuff fastened with serviceable buttons. The “universal” norm for Army mess dress is two buttons. (manchette de chirurgien)
A short, close-fitting formal coat; or, for maternity wear, a member’s loose over-blouse or jumper. (tunique)
Headdress consisting of a long length of material wound round a cap or the head. (turban)
Wedge Cap
A modern field service cap (see above) designed for wear with service dress. (calot)
An unlaced, high-cut boot. Strictly, a very high boot coming nearly to or above the knee, the term is now conventionally applied to a shorter, formal boot reaching above the ankle. (botte wellington)
Skullcap worn in public by members of the orthodox Jewish faith. (kippa)


  1. “Shall”, “may”, and “should”
    1. “shall” shall be construed as being imperative;
    2. “may” shall be construed as being permissive; and
    3. “should” shall be construed as being informative only.
  2. “Practicable” and “practical”
    1. “practicable” shall be construed as “physically possible”; and
    2. “practical” shall be construed as “reasonable in the circumstances”.
  3. “On duty”. As a general rule, for purposes of dress and appearance, a member is considered to be on duty:
    1. when actively engaged in operations, training or administrative duties, either in accordance with specific orders or in accordance with established military routine or practice;
    2. when  attending  a  course  or  administrative  function,  either  in  accordance  with  specific  orders  or established routine or practice;
    3. when participating in or attending any sport, recreational, social or other activity where military authorities require members to be there; or
    4. when the member is at a specific place, or doing a specific act, because of a military order.

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