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Unread 12-30-2010, 03:53 PM   #1
supergeekgirl
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Historical Judging of Military Uniforms

I'm doing World War II military uniforms for the historical in 2011, and I have a few questions for those who have done military stuff at CC in the past.

1. Are there any rules on wearing the uniforms at all? I guess some places won't allow non-military to wear military uniforms even if they are homemade (this is according to some kids on cosplay.com, so I don't know how accurate it is), but is this a problem for CC? I haven't ACTUALLY seen any 20th century military uniforms at a CC at all, now that I think of it. Before I start spending actual money on this project, I want to make sure I can do it.

2. What are the rules on insignia and such? For example, my plan as of right now is to portray a WAC officer in 1945 dress uniform. Enlisted personnel were not allowed to wear dress uniforms in the WAC until well after the war, so I would have to be an officer. All officers had a rank on their shoulder boards. A friend in the modern military told me that she would be offended if I put a rank on my uniform for a convention, and she's pretty laid back compared to some others I've met. I would like to make the rank insignia to prove that I can, but I wonder if I should considering it might offend people. Would it be considered laziness or appropriateness for me NOT to have any rank insignia?
If I were to do a service uniform instead, I could go without rank entirely, but then I should have an insignia patch for my unit. That would probably be looked down upon just as much though I was thinking of going with the unused OSS design which is sort of a "phantom" design never used on any uniforms. That way, I'd have a period patch but nothing that represents a unit anyone was in. Thoughts?

3. What about Soviet stuff? I want to make a 1945 NKVD victory parade uniform for my husband, and they covered their uniforms in all of their medals. Because it's a country that no longer exists, is it okay to make Soviet medals? Or is that also offensive? I see people make Nazi honors for costumes all the time...

So hard to decide here what to do. Help is appreciated!!!
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Unread 12-31-2010, 01:39 PM   #2
AuroraCeleste
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1. No restrictions. There have been plenty of uniforms, just not recently. Look up Adrian Butterfield in the Costume Con archives, I assure you that they were not part of the movement that uniform represents, and yet the costume won best in show.

2. I don't see a problem with wearing rank insignia. The WAC uniform is not currently used by the military. Even if it was, it's for a competition where you are understood to be wearing something that you are not. It's not like you are going out to eat in the uniform, or going anywhere else where people might assume you earned that rank. To me, it's just as offensive as actors wearing rank insignia - not at all because we know they are pretending for entertainment, not insulting.

3. Look up the uniform for question #1, then think if you need to ask that question again.



Also, a great resource for uniform questions is Byron Connell. I've been pestering him recently with a few of my own
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Unread 12-31-2010, 02:06 PM   #3
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Also, I was curious, so I conducted my own little poll to see what others thought:

Myself - 8 years Navy enlisted - no problem
Husband - 8 years Navy enlisted - kept repeating "it's just a costume. I'm not insulted by Stargate"
Sister-in-law - 5 years Army officer - as long as it's tasteful. you can get in trouble for "impersonating an officer" if the uniform is modern, but it only counts with uniforms currently in use.
SiL's Father - 20 years Army enlisted - no problem
Friend - 3 years Navy officer - not insulted and confused that people would be
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Unread 01-02-2011, 07:02 PM   #4
von Drago
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AuroraCeleste View Post
Also, I was curious, so I conducted my own little poll to see what others thought:

Myself - 8 years Navy enlisted - no problem
Husband - 8 years Navy enlisted - kept repeating "it's just a costume. I'm not insulted by Stargate"
Sister-in-law - 5 years Army officer - as long as it's tasteful. you can get in trouble for "impersonating an officer" if the uniform is modern, but it only counts with uniforms currently in use.
SiL's Father - 20 years Army enlisted - no problem
Friend - 3 years Navy officer - not insulted and confused that people would be
Love your husband's attitude!

Katrina - definitely hook up with Byron. He's on the SLCG-X list & is VERY knowledgeable (sp?).
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Unread 01-02-2011, 07:06 PM   #5
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Intent

As with all costuming, it's about intent.
Are you being respectful & not trying to pass yourself off as authentic?
Then you're probably good.

But it's always nice to ask & make it clear what your intention is - never to offend, usually to honor.
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Unread 01-04-2011, 09:02 AM   #6
AuroraCeleste
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I've been thinking more about this in the past few days, and I think I have a more thoughtful answer for you (and I'm gonna wrap your question about medals from the hist. forum in with it).

Honestly, concerning the rank I think you're fine with making it, but if it makes you really uncomfortable then just document why you didn't, and perhaps make them to carry to show you *could*. Or greek them so that they show the rank of "Circle Diamond" and explain in the documentation why you did it.

That said, I'm still very curious why your friend said what she did. I think you should talk to her more and find out why she thinks it is insulting or disrespectful. I think explaining your intentions and respect might help to smooth over her feelings that you might make fun of things (the best reason I can come up with, which may be totally wrong).

I also put a little more research into modern military costumes through some costume friends. Impersonating a military officer is a crime, but there has to be "intent to defraud", meaning you present yourself as an officer to gain something you wouldn't gain as a civilian or enlisted. It's really not applicable in this case. Military uniforms on television and film are made as accurate as possible.


As I see it, there are two ways you can go about designing your character to be respectful. Your first choice is to pick a person and make their uniform. It will be easier to research and to justify your choice of rank and which medals to wear since you would be copying what that person earned. If you want to go this way I'd suggest you contact the Women in Military Service Memorial in Washington DC: http://www.womensmemorial.org/ They are a great resource for the experiences and lives of women in the military.

Your second choice would be to make a nebulous person and extrapolate what they would wear. You'd have to figure out where that person would be when in order to figure out what kind of medals and promotions they would receive.

Either way, I'd suggest you not duplicate medals of honor or valor. A group medal awarded for service by a unit or an organization, however, I feel is fair game. You could also look for reproduction medals. Personally, I would not buy original medals. There's just something very personal and special about a person's medals that would make me very uncomfortable wearing them without their express blessing (in which case it would be an incredible honor).

You should also look up a World War II reenactment group for advice. I know they exist, there is a large one that marches at DragonCon every year. They could probably give you better counsel on medals, rank stuff, and any other questions you may have.
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