The Royal Air Force provides its commissioned officers with a mess dress uniform free of charge as part of the required uniform package. This uniform, which is also optional for warrant officers and senior non-commissioned officers at personal expense, is formal in nature, and its manner of wear is specifically regulated by the RAF.
The RAF's mess dress uniform is composed of a blue jacket and slacks, a white dress shirt with gold cuff links, a blue waistcoat, and a black bow tie, socks and shoes. Women wear a long, blue skirt in place of trousers, and a silver cummerbund in place of the waistcoat. Women are also required to wear hose with the mess dress uniform. They can carry a black clutch handbag and wear small pearl or gold earrings. Men can also wear the silver cummerbund with the approval of a commander.
Display of Rank
While wearing the mess dress combination, RAF commissioned officers will have their rank displayed on the sleeves of their jacket, embroidered in gold ranking lace. Warrant officers and SNCOs display their rank on a gold embellished rank badge on the right sleeve only. Retired personnel wearing the mess dress uniform will also display the rank they held upon discharge in this same manner.
Occasions for Wear
Mess dress is designed for wear by RAF personnel who are attending formal dinner parties or evening events. It is prescribed as the equivalent of the civilian tuxedo and should be worn at events where that manner of dress is required.
Kilts are an optional uniform component for men serving as part of the Scottish-based squadrons of the RAF. Other combinations of mess dress are available, including the "5A" combination for male commissioned officers only. This combination features a white waistcoat, wing-collared shirt and bow tie instead of the blue waistcoat and black bow tie.
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