Like the Postal Service itself, employee uniforms have evolved over the years. From left, a carrier delivers mail circa 1908; a 1940s carrier; an early 1970s carrier; and a letter carrier in 2014.
To celebrate the new stamps honoring Oscar de la Renta, “The
list” looks at five fashion statements from postal history.
1. First uniforms. Letter carrier uniforms were authorized
in 1868 — a single-breasted coat, pants, vest, cap and cape, all in cadet grey.
2. Women’s uniforms. Before specially tailored clothing was
introduced in the 1960s, female letter carriers often combined a skirt with the
uniform cap and coat designed for their male counterparts.
3. Stars and stripes. In 1897, regulations authorized the
use of stripes on uniform coat sleeves to recognize length of service: one
stripe for every five years. Stars replaced stripes two years later and are
still optional for uniformed employees.
4. Satchels. Letter carriers delivered mail in leather
satchels until 1973, when the scarcity and high price of leather prompted a
switch to blue canvas satchels similar to those used today.
5. Hats. Headwear options diversified as uniforms changed.
Styles have included panama hats, safari-style helmets, parka hoods, fur caps,
mesh caps, berets, baseball caps, knit caps and face masks.
The usps.com Postal History page has more information
about past and present uniforms. Got ideas for future editions of “The
list”? Email them to email@example.com.