Washington — Khaki, a favored color with the Army since 1898, faded out of service Monday.

“No more khaki,” an Army spokeswoman said. “Today is the last day you can wear it.”

Khaki became tacky when the Army decided in 1981 to make green its standard color and set Sept. 30, 1985, as the last official day in the Army life of khaki.

“It was done to reduce the number of uniforms in the clothing bag and to save money,” the spokeswoman said.

Another reason for the fadeout, she said, is that, unlike the Navy, the Army does not have different uniforms for different seasons, eliminating a major reason for a two-color system.

There are two standard Army uniforms, both with light green shirts and darker green trousers. They can be worn with or without ties.

Admirers of khaki took advantage of the color’s last official day to wear their shirtsleeve shirts and trousers one final time. “I don’t know what I’ll do with the shirt, but the trousers are good to wear with a blue blazer,” Lt. Col. Craig McNab said of his soon to be unofficial uniform.

Walter Bradford, a historian at the Center of Military History, said khaki first entered Army service during the Spanish American War in 1898, when the Americans were looking for a summer uniform and copied the British.

The Army switched to olive drab from 1910 to 1933, but few knew it because the olive faded into khaki.

“It looked like khaki because the (olive drab) dye was not stable,’ Bradford said. “Even the guys didn’t know the difference.”

The khaki uniform first saw service among officers in 1942 and was picked up by the enlisted men after World War II.

With khaki’s demise at midnight Monday, Bradford said, “Another historic era has ended.”

Khaki was first used by the British in India in 1848 and comes from the Hindi word meaning dust colored.

Article extracted from this publication >>  October 6, 1985