Military dress code gets tech upgrade

The dress code for the U.S. Navy has gotten a little update to bring it into the 21st century.

The Navy is finally getting onboard when it comes to updating its dress code to include 21st century personal technology.

Last week, the Navy announced it has revamped its official dress code to be more compatible with modern technology and fashion trends. Among the changes is a special provision that allows sailors to carry cell phones, PDAs (personal digital assistants) and pagers on their belts.

The change is a big win for gadget nerds who previously were only allowed to wear pagers as part of their official uniform. Any sailor carrying a cell phone or a BlackBerry had to keep it in a pocket or a bag.

"Nobody really uses pagers and beepers anymore," said Lisa Mikoliczyk, a spokeswoman for Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy Terry Scott. "People are using cell phones and PDAs. Basically, the uniform regulations were updated to get rid of the obsolete terminology, so that it accommodates all communication devices."

But the new uniform policy isn't without a few restrictions. Only sailors using cell phones or personal digital devices for official Navy business may include them as part of the uniform. And the devices must not be seen from the front. In short, sailors can forget about strapping iPods onto their belts and passing it off as part of the official uniform.

"You can't have your own personal bright green and orange cell phone hanging from your uniform," Mikoliczyk said.

The new communications tech policy is one of several changes to the dress code, which were recommended after a 2003 survey of more than 40,000 sailors.

Some of the other changes include new dress requirements for female sailors. Now women sailors have the option to wear skirts or pants for official duty, even for formal events. They are also no longer required to carry skirts with them in their sailor bags. Women can also ditch their military purses--boxy and widely unpopular "granny bags"--and purchase more stylish replacements from department stores.

The new dress code also no longer requires sailors to use their hands to carry gym bags, suitcases and garment bags while in uniform. They now may sling them over their shoulders.