Monday, January 11, 2016

Donald Duck's Uniform

What’s up with Donald’s outfit? What navy was he with, exactly? Why is he still wearing part of his uniform?

Photo used from
The hat seems mostly legit. It’s usually blue (although occasionally white) and it seems to be the basic “flat hat” that was popular from 1863 until 1962. It might have still been in use had the materials not become prohibitively expensive (maybe if the US military stopped using money like it was toilet paper, there would be enough left over for hats, but that’s a whole other post). By the late 1930s it was colloquial called “the Donald Duck.”

Photo used from
If you couldn't tell, this pgoto is copyrighted by Marlow WhiteThe rest of the uniform? I can find pictures of similar uniforms , but none that are really close. Some of the enlisted uniforms from the WWI-WWII era, the era in which Donald was created, look a little duck-ish. He does have the flap in back, but the flap is essentially useless. It was there to protect the more expensive articles of clothing – coats, shirts, etc. – from the hair grease that inevitably built up on men who were rarely able to bathe. Readers may have noticed that Donald has feathers, and not hair. That shade of blue is definitely out for the Navy; it’s called “navy blue” for a reason.  
The neckerchief was actually a sweat rag, and black so it didn’t show dirt. He is wearing a bow tie, which is a Navy thing…if you’re wearing dinner dress blues. Does Donald seem like a tuxedo kind of guy to you? Me either.

I suppose we should address the pants. Donald is a bit of an exhibitionist.  For a while in the US Navy, you could wear shorts if you were stationed in the tropics, but nobody ever wore them. I suspect nobody ever wore them primarily because you had to wear them with black socks, which is fine if you’re my grandfather, but lame when you’re out hunting pirates. To the best of my knowledge, all national navies require sailors to wear pants.

You can find another excellent article about the lack of duck pants here. 

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