CSO Sports New Mess Dress Look, But Space Force Says Design Not Finalized

About a month after the top Guardian was spotted wearing a unique black mess dress uniform to an event in Los Angeles, Calif., a Department of the Air Force spokesperson said the Space Force is still working on its official mess dress design.

On June 7, Chief of Space Operations Gen. B. Chance Saltzman attended the 50th Annual “Salute to Space Systems Command,” an event hosted by the Gen. Bernard A. Schriever Los Angeles chapter of the Air & Space Forces Association. Several other Space Force luminaries also attended, including Lt. Gen. Philip Garrant, head of Space Systems Command, and 15 other Guardians, Airmen, and civilian Space Force employees who were recognized for their contributions to Space Systems Command.

While most of the uniformed Guardians wore blue mess dress coats similar to the current Air Force mess dress, Saltzman wore an all-black coat and trouser set that had some social media observers wondering if it was the service’s new signature mess dress. That uniform is still under development, but in the meantime the Space Force wants its top Guardian to stand out, said Sarah Fiocco, a spokesperson for the Department of the Air Force.

“Part of establishing a meaningful culture within the Space Force requires shaping our own identity as a service we can be proud of and build upon throughout the years,” Fiocco told Air & Space Forces Magazine. 

“Developing a new USSF mess dress uniform is another example of how we are moving forward building that identity leading up to our fifth anniversary,” she added. “While the designs are not finalized, it is important for the service chief to be more easily distinguished from the other services when representing the Space Force in public engagements.”

Saltzman was not the only one with a unique outfit. Standing to his left in the same photo, Garrant and Chief Master Sergeant Jacqueline Sauvé, senior enlisted leader for Space Systems Command, wore grey trousers and what appeared to be a darker shade of cummerbund, lapels, and tie than the usual Air Force mess dress uniform. Those outfits are one of several potential mess dress variations currently being tested by senior Space Force leaders and selected wear testers, Fiocco said.

The Space Force mess dress is still in the early stages of the design process, she explained. After a design is chosen, the service will need to collect Guardian feedback, conduct fit and wear testing, and complete other development and production processes.

“We understand there is a lot of Guardian interest in developing distinct, professional, and comfortable uniforms they can proudly wear that represents the identity and culture of the new service,” Fiocco said.

Chief of Space Operations Gen. Chance Saltzman, left, Chief Master Sgt. of the Space Force John F. Bentivegna and Chief Master Sgt. of the Space Force Roger A. Towberman sing “Semper Supra,” the Space Force service song, during their change of responsibility ceremony at Joint Base Andrews, Md., Sept. 15, 2023. U.S. Air Force photo by Eric Dietrich

The Space Force made waves when it first unveiled its service dress uniform in 2021. With a dark blue coat, upturned collar, and diagonal row of six buttons, the uniform reminded some of science fiction uniforms, but Space Force uniform designers said it was intended to be “more futuristic looking.” 

Service members wear mess dress at formal “black-tie” events, and service dress at less formal events. In September, the Space Force announced that its prototype service dress uniform had entered the final stage of wear testing, with more than 100 Guardians trying on the outfit around the world. The Space Force expects the uniform will roll out to Guardians everywhere in 2025.

In the meantime, Guardians can still enjoy their unique physical training gear, which on March 8 became the Space Force’s first ever finalized service-specific uniform. The PT gear includes black shorts, a dark gray T-shirt, black sweatpants, and a black windbreaker, with a patterned “USSF” on the sleeves of the shirt and jacket, “Space Force” on the back of the shirt, and the Space Force’s Delta logo on the left side of each item.