The Heritage Series: On Postal Uniforms

Like most things in the Postal Service, city letter carriers’ uniforms have a long history. The first official uniforms were introduced in 1868, and required that a full coat and pants be worn at all times. Over the years, the uniform was expanded to allow more authorized options like shorts and short-sleeved shirts.The blue-grey fabric used helped identify a letter carrier at first glance, and items like badges and, later, emblem patches, provided further identification.Though women make up more than 44 percent of USPS employees today, at one time the uniform requirement actually prevented their employment as city letter carriers.

In 1917, when women were first tested as city letter carriers, they wore men’s regulation coats and caps with their own skirts.

Women could not wear pants in public because the simple act of doing so could lead to ridicule, or even arrest in some places. During the world wars, when women temporarily filled positions typically held by men, the rules were “quietly ignored” to allow them to deliver in skirts. Starting in the 50s, skirts were formally made part of the uniform and a few years later, pants were allowed, further opening the door for women city letter carriers.Besides removing some of the harsher restrictions, today’s uniform looks a bit different and allows even more options for comfortable delivery. But the postal blue in your neighborhood remains the same!For more postal history — including more on uniforms — visit “Who We Are: Our History.” uniform2By 1967, uniform regulations included garments tailored specifically for women.

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