Prior to World War II, Marines had dress uniforms and service uniforms with summer and winter versions. The service uniforms were intended for all use that was not formal dress, from ceremonies to field exercises. Beginning in 1941, fatigue uniforms took over for field duty with the service uniform designated for garrison, leave and ceremonial activity.
The summer service uniform was cotton khaki which continued to be used in warm climates. A khaki garrison cap or round khaki service cap were worn with the summer uniform. A summer khaki service coat was in use before the war, but was dropped after 1941.
The forest green winter wool service uniform continued to be used, as seen on the Major in the photo to the left. The shirt worn with this uniform was tan wool with brown buttons. The forest green trousers had no back pockets. A tan necktie, belt, and forest green service cap or garrison cap completed the uniform.
A khaki shirt could also be worn with the forest green trousers as an intermediate uniform, without the coat.
The wool service coat was hip length with four pockets: two pleated breast pockets and two box pockets on the skirt. It has epaulettes at the shoulders and belt loops in back to hold a loose cloth belt. The sleeves had a simulaed curved "Marine cuff". Bronze buttons with Eagle, Globe and Anchor secured the pockets and the front of the coat. The officers coat differed only in the fabric -- the EM coat was kersey wool, officers wool elastique.
Pvt. Howard Perry, first African-American to enlist in the U.S. Marine Corps when segregation of the Corps ended, 1 June 1942. He is wearing the USMC Service Uniform.