Life Archive | U.S. Military Uniforms c.1941 | A Continuous Lean.

Life Archive | U.S. Military Uniforms c.1941

May 14th, 2009 | Categories: LIFE | by Michael Williams

The Life archive continues to yield cool shit, like every U.S. military kit worn in 1941. This is the kind of stuff that I want to print out and put in a wooden box and save forever. Safe to say I love it. Since these photos were taken in the run-up to the U.S. involvement in the conflict, it would be interesting to see how the uniforms changed by the time they got to 1945, especially the cavalry uniforms. Wouldn’t think they saw much action in the the war, especially the Pacific theater.


More LIFE posts here.

Comments: 14

14 Comments to “Life Archive | U.S. Military Uniforms c.1941”

  1. brandon sargent
    on May 14th, 2009
    @ 9:43 AM

    wow, this is incredible- i could look at uniforms all day. thanks for posting.

  2. Tintin
    on May 14th, 2009
    @ 9:45 AM

    Those are great images. And one of them solves a mystery should you ever be confused about the Army expression, “He doesn’t know shit from shinola.”

    Popular with my father, I asked him when I was a kid, “What’s shinola?” “Boot polish.” he replied. This made no sense to me since boots were black and who the hell had black poop. But in WWII , when this became a popular expression, boots were the brown in the photo. A beautiful shade of brown that looks like…Well, you get the picture.

  3. jubei
    on May 14th, 2009
    @ 9:52 AM

    I love how narrow the lasts are on those boots and shoes… how come it’s so hard to find anything remotely resembling those shoes for a reasonable price these days?

    Yet another case of “they don’t make ‘em like they used to…”

  4. JP
    on May 14th, 2009
    @ 9:54 AM

    I remember that expression as well. And– “shit on a shingle”. As guys, I think part of it is that we just like an excuse to say the word shit.

  5. Hobo Ken
    on May 14th, 2009
    @ 10:07 AM

    They look great. No wonder that in certain parts of the UK there are people in their mid 60′s whose real dads are guys just like these !

  6. mxyzptlk
    on May 14th, 2009
    @ 10:15 AM

    Crazy… we still some of those items in the Army. The mess blue uniform with the cape is still worn exactly like that today, except we wear rank on the sleeves in place of the branch insignia.

  7. lanceunemode
    on May 14th, 2009
    @ 10:51 AM

    Have you ever been to Kaufman’s Army Navy on 42nd Street? The place is kind of a mess, but if you come in with a clear piece of research (i.e. every one of these beautiful photos), the guy there can track down just about anything in a couple of weeks.

  8. Thomas
    on May 14th, 2009
    @ 12:22 PM

    Calvary is where Christ was crucified, but cavalry are the men on horses.

    Beautiful uniforms, though. The army made a strategic victory but a sartorial loss when they replaced OD green with camouflage.

  9. Michael Williams
    on May 14th, 2009
    @ 12:25 PM

    Thanks for the correction. That’s what I get for blogging while sober.


  10. indiansummervintage
    on May 14th, 2009
    @ 12:52 PM

    Oooh, I love you for this. Also love thinking of the guy who laid the socks out just so for the perfect shot.

  11. Nemo Wolfe
    on May 14th, 2009
    @ 1:55 PM

    Life seemed to harbor some grudge against the Navy. The sailor suit is a little trickier to wear with panache than some of the gaudier outfits, but there was no need to stuff the nerdiest seaman available into ill-fitting dress whites.

  12. Anna Allen
    on May 14th, 2009
    @ 1:56 PM

    rad! LIFE archive is amazing.

  13. Siong Chin
    on May 14th, 2009
    @ 2:56 PM

    The accessories are amazing! There’s always been a fascination with uniforms, the most obvious being epaulettes. Though it never occurred to me until now – did the belt-over-jacket trend in womenswear a few years ago come to fruition from uniforms?

  14. Suzi-Q
    on May 15th, 2009
    @ 1:27 PM

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