7 Iconic Uniforms From Around The World

Military institutions are as old as human conflict. Its primary purpose was to defeat the enemy and to facilitate governance.

For most of ancient history, military personnel dressed according to their ethnicity to distinguish them from enemy combatants on the battlefield. The distinctions among ethnic armor may give the illusion of formal uniforms in different warring camps.

However, formal military uniforms as we know them today date back to the advent of the regimental systems in the 17th century. The regimental system is an administrative structure that distinguishes troops based on functionalities, and each troop has an assigned uniform for display and utility purposes.

So, which country or military unit has unique, show-stopping uniforms? From ornate military ceremonial garbs to functional camo, below is a highlight of the most iconic military uniforms.

1. The French Foreign Legion Engineer Regimen

Also known as Les Pioneer’s (the pioneers), the French Foreign Legion’s Engineer Regiment features combat engineers. Their primary duty is clearing obstacles from the battlefield during wars to reduce casualties and injury among the army’s infantry regiments.

Les Pioneer’s dates back to 1831, and the primary purpose for the unit’s creation was to allow foreigners to enlist in the French army. The unit’s military uniform tells a tale of its history and function, as highlighted below.

First, the most distinctive factor of Les Pioneer’s’  iconic ceremonial uniform is the leather apron or Tiblier de Curi draped on the left shoulder. Historically, the legionnaires wore leather aprons and gauntlet gloves in combat to protect them from wooden splinters and other debris likely to cause injury. The tradition carries on in the legionnaires’ ceremonial garb with the addition of medals based on rank.

Second, rather than rifles, the legionnaires carry axes during military parades. The ax was their tool of trade in destroying wooden obstacles.

Third, unlike most military units requiring soldiers to have clean-shaven chins, Les Pioneer’s’ legionnaires keep beards. The beards are an ode to their high-risk duty, which unfortunately bore a high death risk, preventing them from shaving.

2. The US Marine Corps Dress Blues Uniforms

The US Marine Corps dress blues is iconic primarily due to its simple elegance, presenting a smart appearance emphasizing less is more. However, besides its smart look, the legacy uniform bears over 200 years of Marine Corps history.

According to one historical account of Marine Corps uniforms, the dress blues date back to the European-style-inspired War of 1812 uniforms. The elegantly styled uniforms featuring a blue jacket were designed to create a good first impression of America, given that Marine Corps officers often represented the country overseas.

Although the dress blues have changed style significantly since 1812, it remains the only US regimen uniform bearing all three colors on the American flag. Therefore, besides style, the Marine Corps dress blues embodies America’s values.

The iconic uniform’s outstanding features include the red trimming on the jacket, the blood stripe on the pants, the polished gold buttons, and the standing collar. Each of these highlighted features has a legacy significance.

For starters, the blood stripe is an ode to fallen soldiers who served in the Marine Corps. Also, the six golden buttons on the blazer bear the Marine Corps emblem featuring an anchor, an eagle, and a globe.

The anchor symbolizes marine life, while the bald eagle is America’s national bird. Additionally, the globe represents the Marine Corps’ global prevalence and the lengths it would go to defend America. Lastly, the standing collar is for posture, reminding all Marine Corps soldiers wearing the dress blues always to stand tall and hold their heads high.

3. The Iranian Blue Camo Dress Uniforms

Some would argue that Iran’s military has the best uniforms in the world, and they may be on to something. While Iran is the land of camo, thanks to its desert environment, the country’s latest camo addition, adopted by its Air Force division in 2019, is the most stunning camo print yet.

The pixelated camo design features black and various shades of blue, including mid-blue, light-blue, and arctic blue, against an even lighter blue background. Iran’s Air Force adorns the iconic blue camo dress uniforms during ceremonies.

The ceremonial garb includes blue camo jackets, pants, and caps, paired with a white undershirt, gloves, black belt, and white and black boots for that iconic look.

4. Royal Regiment Of Scotland

The Royal Regiment of Scotland’s uniform may appear eclectic to an outsider, but it represents the country’s heritage to the core. While most ceremonial military dresses included pants, the Royal Regiment of Scotland opted for the traditional kilt.

It features a tartan kilt characterized by green and navy blue patterns. The tartan kit pays homage to the Sutherland and Argyll Highlanders. The ceremonial military dress also features a feathered headdress with a black hackle, which hails from the Scottish Rifles. Other ornate elements from this iconic heritage-inspired military uniform include a kilt hose and a belt.

5. Mongolia’s State Honor Guard

Mongolia’s State Honor Guard is another military unit that went back in time to draw inspiration for their dress uniforms. The unit’s uniforms are similar to those worn by military units during the great Genghis Khan’s reign of the Mongol Empire.

In fact, the brightly-colored dress uniforms that Mongolia’s State Honor Guard adorns during ceremonies are similar to those worn by Genghis Khan’s guard during his reign as emperor.

6. The Royal Horse Guards

The Royal Horse Guards started as the cavalry regiment of the British army in the 1650s. However, it rose in prominence after Charles II raised it to serve during the Venner riots in 1660.

Despite numerous leadership changes over the ages, the Royal Horse Guard managed to maintain ties to royalty, including the House of Windsor from the 1800s. Another unique factor about the unit is that they wore blue rather than red like other British regiments.

Consequently, an iconic blue jacket with gold trimmings and braids topped with a feathered golden helmet identifies the Royal Horse Guards.

7. Vatican City Swiss Guards

Also known as the Pontifical Swiss Guard, Vatican City’s military unit is over 500 years old, and true to its heritage, its military dress uniform draws inspiration from the Renaissance period.

The multi-colored dress uniform (red, yellow, and blue) includes puffed sleeves, pantaloon-style pants, and a knight’s armor from head to chest. However, the regiment only wears the knight’s armor during ceremonies and trades it for black Berets regularly.


Military uniforms bear history, heritage, and the authority earned by those who came ahead. While each military uniform has

significance, the seven dress uniforms highlighted above deliver the finest blend of meaning and fashion, earning them a spot among the world’s most iconic dress uniforms.