In spite of the 2013 change that allows women in combat, high heels are still not an option for sailors, although there’s been some progress on that front. The 1943 regulations for Navy women prescribed a heel of 13/8 inches or less. Current Navy regulations raise women’s heels to 2 5/8 inches. The heels must also be no wider than 1 3/4 inches at the base.
Navy regulations prescribe commercial athletic shoes for working out. It’s your call on the brand and style. The only real requirement is that you wear athletic socks with them and close all of the fasteners on the shoe. You can pick any color you want. The shoes must be comfortable and suitable for the type of exercises you plan to do. There’s no requirement as far as heels go.
Ceremonies and Dinners
The Navy formal uniform for special occasions, sometimes called “mess dress” or dinner dress, is worn to dining-in functions where civilians might wear a gown. The shoes worn under the floor-length skirt on these occasions are flats. The Navy requires them to have closed toes and heels, to be black and made from silk, suede or peau de soie, a soft weave of rayon or silk, with a dull lustre.
The service dress uniform – the “business wear” uniform – includes a skirt that exposes the shoes. The shoes are black dress pumps of smooth leather or synthetic leather. The toes and heels are closed and the heel can be no less than 5/8 inch in height. Because you may wear the service dress uniform for an extended workday, you have the option to select a heel that suits both your nature and your comfort levels during the day, as long as it’s nor more than 2 3/8 inches tall and no less than 5/8 inch in height.
The Navy now has two work uniforms. One includes a khaki skirt and blouse. The other is comprised of a blue camouflage shirt and baggy pants. With the camouflaged uniform, you wear black combat boots. With the khaki skirt and blouse, you wear black leather pumps with a heel that rises between 5/8 inch and 2 5/8 inches. This variability in height allows you to select a shoe that’s comfortable for long periods of wear.
- Navy Heritage and History Command: Uniform Regulations, Women's Reserve, United States Naval Reserve, 1943
- U.S. Navy: Navy Personnel Command - Description and Wear of Uniform Components Shoes, (Sneakers), Athletic Article 3601.4
- U.S. Navy: Navy Personnel Command - Female Chief Petty Officer Dinner Dress Uniform Dinner Dress Blue
- U.S. Navy: Navy Personnel Command - Description and Wear of Uniform Components Shoes, Dress (Black/Brown/White) (Male) Article 3501.54
Will Charpentier is a writer who specializes in boating and maritime subjects. A retired ship captain, Charpentier holds a doctorate in applied ocean science and engineering. He is also a certified marine technician and the author of a popular text on writing local history.