When someone thinks of the National FFA Organization, their first thought might be the iconic blue corduroy jacket. It has been a symbol of the organization for nearly 90 years! Paired with either a scarf or a tie along with appropriate black bottoms, the iconic blue corduroy jacket completes the uniform that we have all come to know as FFA Official Dress.
Although we take it for granted at times, the FFA Official Dress guidelines have an interesting history. Since 1933, Official Dress for FFA members has been updated to evolve with the organization, but one thing has remained the same — the blue and gold corduroy jacket.
History of FFA Official Dress
Although we may not think of it as a fashion statement, the blue corduroy jacket is in fact an iconic piece of fashion. What other article of clothing has been around for 90 years and worn by millions? Official Dress gives identity and gives a “distinctive and recognizable image to the organization and its members.”
It all started when agriculture educator J.H. (Gus) Lintner from Ohio commissioned a jacket for members of the local FFA chapter to wear to the 1933 National FFA Convention in Kansas City, Missouri, as part of their FFA band uniform. The iconic blue and gold design was so popular that it was adopted as the Official Dress of FFA members.
In honor of its role in FFA history, Fredericktown, Ohio, was selected by the Ohio Historical Society to receive an Ohio Historical Marker for being home of the FFA jacket. The plaque was unveiled at Fredericktown High School in September 2018. Neil Overly and Linden Scheff, both members of the FFA band who wore the jacket at the 1933 national convention, were in attendance.
Changes to Official Dress throughout the years
After 1933, FFA Official Dress went through many changes. Did you know that blazers were once an option as Official Dress? Although they have since been discontinued, other articles of clothing have also been updated. For example, the FFA tie has seen many different design changes over the years.
One thing remains the same — the members wearing Official Dress are the future of agriculture. Although it is just a piece of clothing, the jacket and the FFA Official Dress guidelines stand for so much more.
When we think of Official Dress, we might not realize how much it has changed over the years. In the beginning when FFA was a male only organization they didn’t have anything about skirts or black nylons. However, there were also more subtle changes throughout the years as well.
For example, Official Dress has changed in multiple ways since 1933:
- In 1969 after girls were accepted into the organization, there was an all girls committee with recommendations for the girl’s Official Dress. It included a request for a girls fit jacket and the option to wear gold skirts. However, it also said a solid color, dark shade skirt would work as well, much like modern Official Dress.
- In 1988 the wording of the emblem was changed from “Vocational Agriculture” to “Agricultural Education.”
- The jacket underwent restoration from 2003 to 2005 to establish a new standard of blue, restore the design and color of the emblem, improve the fit and comfort, and increase its durability. If you have seen a jacket prior to that time it has more of a purple hue and the gold was more of an orange tint.
- Most recently in 2016, the FFA manual was adjusted once again. This time around it dropped the requirement for girls to wear skirts and gave them the option to wear pants, now allowing for Official Dress to be ungendered. These changes also included that members have the right to wear religious attire while in uniform as well.
Throughout the years of updates and overall changes, Official Dress has always been a way to distinguish FFA members and the organization they represent. As of today, the guidelines for Official Dress for an FFA member includes:
- An official FFA jacket zipped to the top
- Black slacks and black socks/nylons or black skirts and black nylons
- White collared blouse or white collared shirt.
- Official FFA tie or official FFA scarf
- Black dress shoes with closed heel and toe
So even though it might be a little stiff or itchy when you first get it, your FFA jacket represents so much more than any other piece of clothing. It represents the local, state, and national organization that so many have come to love and respect. It is not only your journey, but when you have FFA Official Dress on, you represent the millions that came before you and will follow you on this journey.