A range of Salvation Army uniforms dating back over the past 100 years can be viewed at The Salvation Army Heritage Centres in Sydney and Melbourne.
The Salvation Army uniform reflects the military principles upon which the Army is organised. For Salvation Army officers and soldiers it is a visible expression of their faith that often creates valuable opportunities to provide a helping hand.
Uniforms have been worn in many forms since the Army's earliest days. The first evangelists of the Christian Mission wore suits of clerical cut, with frock coats, tall hats, and black ties. Women evangelists wore plain dresses and small Quaker-type bonnets. After the Mission became an Army (1878), it was agreed that a military type uniform should be adopted, modelled on Victorian military garb.
The first captain of The Salvation Army, a former chimney sweep named Elijah Cadman, is credited with instigating the wearing of the military-style uniforms after declaring at an early meeting, "I should like to wear a suit of clothes that would let everyone know I meant war to the teeth and Salvation for the world."
The Salvation Army uniform has evolved over the years. In Australia, bonnets for women were replaced by felt hats in the 1970s and the high military-style collars were dropped for both men and women about the same time. The Army is continually reviewing the style of the uniform to ensure it is up-to-date. There is also variation in uniform internationally because of climate and other circumstances.
Uniforms are available for purchase by Salvation Army church members at Salvationist Supplies.