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The appearance of military uniforms on White House staff has seemed too threatening to please the public so except during wartime they are avoided in favor of less fanciful dress, usually either copied from a metropolitan police force or the even simpler uniforms of the Secret Service. From time to time the need has been seen at the White House for distinctive uniforms that simply say “White House” and relate to nothing else. Through the years the embassies had such uniforms, and officials admired the custom in Europe.

Theodore Roosevelt had trouble gaining acceptance for original uniforms. More than half a century later President Richard M. Nixon faced the same objections when he had uniforms designed for White House security. Teased in the press for adopting the costumes of a “banana republic,” the president finally gave up and recalled the uniforms, which were presented for use to the marching band of a local high school.

White House staff uniform jacket and pants instituted by President Nixon.

Hats from the White House staff uniforms instituted by President Nixon.

This article was originally published in White House History Number 32 Fall 2012

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