The 1895 "undress" coat looked nearly identical to the 1902 version (when it was known as the "dress" coat), but had a slight difference. The collar on the 1895 coat was slightly shorter (1 1/4" wide) with one hook & eye fastener, and photos often show it being slightly spread at the top. The 1902 coat had a higher collar (1 1/2") with two hook & eye fasteners, one at the top and another at the bottom of the collar. The 1895 and 1902 uniform items appear mixed together on photos of groups of officers (e.g., the 1895 coat with the 1902 bell-crown visor cap, or the 1902 coat with the 1895 straight-sided visor cap).
The 1902 "dress" coat existed until 1936, when it was replaced by the roll-color blue dress uniform coat.
On 26 June 1917, War Department General Order No. 76 abolished the wear of any but the service uniform for officers and enlisted men for the duration of the war. Wear of the full-dress uniform, blue dress uniform, special evening dress uniform, and the blue and white mess uniforms were thereby prohibited.
Notwithstanding that General Order, military officers assigned to the White House continued to wear the full-dress and dress uniforms (officers are shown wearing these uniforms in photos taken in 1917,1922,1923,1924,1925,1926 and 1927).
It was not until 1929 that the pre-WWI versions of the full-dress uniform, blue dress uniform, special evening dress uniform and blue mess uniforms were once again authorized for optional wear -- but with the new pattern of visor cap. The white dress uniform and white mess jacket had continued to be worn in tropical climates during and after WWI.
War Department Circular 5 (26 January 1929)
II – Blue uniforms. – 1. Officers, warrant officers, and enlisted men of the Army are authorized but not required to wear the prescribed blue uniforms; such uniforms, however, will not be worn on occasions involving formations with troops.
The procurement and wearing of the blue uniform is entirely optional on the part of the individual and will be at his own expense. Commanding officers are expressly forbidden to exercise pressure of any sort, or to seek to induce individuals to procure blue uniforms.
The blue uniforms authorized are those described in Special Regulations (Regulations for the Uniform of the United States Army) Nos. 41 and 42 [which dated from1917], as amended, except that the cap shall be the latest adopted shape. Present Army Regulations on the uniform are being revised to conform to this new authorization.
In 1936, the Army adopted a new style (roll-collar) blue dress uniform for optional wear (but the high-collar, pre-WWI version of the blue dress uniform authorized in Special Regulation 41 could continue to be worn until unserviceable).
War Department Cir. 66 (13 Oct 1936)
Blue uniforms. – Pending the review of AR 00-35, December 31, 1926, and AR 600-40, June 22, 1931, so much of Section II, Circular No. 5, War Department, 1929, as pertains to blue uniforms for officers (blue dress, full dress, mess jacket, special evening dress, and cape) and warrant officers is rescinded and the following substituted therefore:
1. General. – a. A blue dress uniform convertible to a full dress and a special full dress, is adopted for wear by all officers, warrant officers, and contract surgeons, except as provided in b below.
b. All articles of uniform for wear by the General of the Armies, the Chief of Staff, former Chiefs of Staff, and other officers in the rank of general are such as each may prescribe for himself, except insignia of grade.
c. All officers, warrant officers, and contract surgeons are authorized to provide themselves with the new uniform at their option. All blue uniforms purchased after the receipt of this circular, except as provided in b above, will conform to the specifications prescribed herein. Existing old style blue uniforms may be worn until no longer serviceable (see par. 1f. AR 600-40).
In 1937 (War Department Circular 7, 21 Jan 1937), the blue dress uniform was reintroduced for wear by all officers, warrant officers, and contract surgeons (at the option of the individual officer). These uniforms had two upper and two lower slash pockets (on the inside of the coat – not visible from the outside) with flaps (rounded at the corners but flat across the bottom of the flap).
Existing blue dress uniforms (as prescribed in Special Regulations No. 41 and 42) could continue to be worn until no longer serviceable. Blue dress uniforms prescribed by War Dept Circular 66 (1936) had to be altered to fit comply with the provisions of the 1937 circular.
AR 60-38 (17 Aug 1938) made wear of the blue dress uniform mandatory for all Regular Army officers. In June 1942, the wear of the blue dress uniform, blue mess uniform, special evening dress uniform, white uniform, and white mess uniform were suspended for the duration of the war. These uniforms were not reauthorized until 1948, and then only for optional wear at the discretion of individual officers.
It is quite possible that some officers continued to wear the high-collar (1902 version) of the blue dress uniform up until the outbreak of WWII, but I've not seen any dated photos showing that practice. It likely would have been officers who were nearing retirement, and didn't want to go to the expense of buying a new uniform (though I have the blue dress uniform of a Coast Artillery colonel who retired in December 1941 -- and it is the 1937 roll-collar version with pocket flaps, not the 1902 high-collar version).
Edited by Ranger-1972, 14 July 2018 - 06:38 PM.