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Yellow Shirt or Tan Shirt for Female Den Leaders?


Note: This is still frequently asked on my site. I’m not sure you can even get the yellow shirt at the Scout shop anymore, but since there are still so many out there, people see leaders wearing them. And they are still available on sites like Ebay, I still see female Scouters in them.

The Question

Lorraine sent in this question:

What type of shirt do female den leaders wear? (yellow shirt or tan)I want to get a shirt to wear so my Webelo Scouts understand and take pride in the uniform. (lead by example) I never had a shirt before, we are Webelo 1.

Thanks for the question Lorraine.  Female Cub Scout leaders may wear either the yellow shirt or the tan shirt. However, almost all of the den leaders I know wear the tan shirt.

Why Wear Tan?

Female Scouts BSA leaders only wear the tan shirts. The yellow shirt is for Cub Scout leaders. So if you purchase a tan shirt you can also continue to wear it when your son or daughter moves to a Scouts BSA unit and you become a Scout leader. 🙂

For that reason, I’d recommend you get the tan shirt.

And I commend you for wanting to be a good example in uniforming for your den. We can’t really expect the youth to wear the uniform if adults aren’t wearing it.

Who Should Wear a Scout Uniform?

A reader asks if she should wear a Scout uniform. She is a committee member and religious emblems counselor. See my answer.

Scouts BSA and Uniforms

Beth asked, “I realized once again that, as proud as he is to wear the uniform at a Scout function, he still feels uncomfortable wearing it in public. I have seen this with many other boys as well. Has anyone else noticed this trend, and what can be done? These guys are the future of our country and doing great things everyday, and yet the cool factor is just not there.” Add your comments.

Scouting Uniform Guide

Learn all about uniforms and insignia. Includes information about what is appropriate and uniform inspection sheets.


43 responses to “Yellow Shirt or Tan Shirt for Female Den Leaders?”

  1. Liz Avatar

    I wear a yellow shirt because it’s prettier and more flattering (tan is about the least flattering color a person can wear!) And when my son’s a boy scout, I really don’t want to continue being a leader anymore.

  2. Doe Avatar

    I love wearing the YELLOW shirt. I get so many compliments! Also for special occasions like Pack meetings I like to wear a skirt and wear my hair in a nicer style. You wouldn’t think they would care but even young scouts notice and smile to see that I made a little effort 🙂

  3. Liz Avatar

    That’s true Doe! A lot of women say they wish they’d known they could buy a yellow shirt before they’d bought their tan ones. It goes really nicely with the plaid skirt that I wear to the Christmas party. I love to wear a skirt and dress up and feel a little more feminine, especially to the B&G! (We spend enough time in jeans and boots on camping & hiking trips!)

  4. mary Avatar

    I wear the yellow shirt, too. I service as our district’s Cub Program Leader.
    Plus, the yellow stands out in the crowd of tan.

  5. Laura Avatar

    I personally wore the Tan shirt. Mainly because when I was smaller I wanted to be a boy scout they did so many cool things! So when I got the chance to wear one I really got in to it!

  6. Elizabeth Avatar

    I wear the tan shirt because I was a Tiger, Wolf, Bear, Webelo and now an Assistant Scoutmaster… so the yellow shirt wouldn’t work for Assistant Scoutmaster. I have worn skirts or dress slacks with the tan shirt for banquets or Eagle ceremonies. It was a thrifty decision.

  7. Settummanque (Mike Walton) Avatar
    Settummanque (Mike Walton)

    Hey Elizabeth, Liz and Lorraine:

    Just a little nudge — whether we’re talking one or many, WEBELOS has an “s” at the end of it…without that, we don’t have anything for them to be Loyal to…(WE’ll BE LOyal Scouts!)


    I personally love the gold (yellow) blouse for Cub Scouters and when I was a Den Leader Coach and Assistant Cubmaster, I wished that there was a male version of that blouse/top along with a blue version to match the Cub Scouts!!

    Like Mary stated, however, the yellow/gold tops tend to stand out in a crowd of blue, tan and green!!!


  8. Karen Avatar

    I’ve worn the tan shirt for the past 3 years as a Wolf, Bear and Webelos 1 leader and I would love to continue volunteering with the Boy Scouts as my 3 sons grow.

  9. Dave Avatar

    In our area the females in the community packs pretty much all wear the tan shirt and the females in the LDS packs wear the yellow shirt. I don’t think this was intended, just how it turned out.

  10. Amy Avatar

    I wear a Tan womens also. I have noticed that they are shorter in length than the men’s. This makes it extremely hard to keep tucked in. I also notice many women wearing the tan shirts untucked. I have searched many BSA policies and cannot find anything stating that women’s shirts can or cannot be untucked….maybe we need to ASK BRYAN 🙂

    Any other leaders run into this situation reguarding tucked/untucked womens tan leader shirts?

  11. Dave Avatar

    It became BSA policy in 2013 that all scout shirts are worn tucked in. Here in the Bryan on Scouting article with the BSA quote in it:

  12. Ron Avatar

    my wife wore her yellow blouse and blue skirt as den leader and committee chair with our grandson that she wore with his dad and uncle many years ago. BSA is not about fashion. Just because there is a new clothing contractor to corporate BSA does not mean we all have to run out and buy new clothes.
    I’m happy that everything still fit!

  13. Ron Avatar

    If a boy or leaders shirt isn’t tucked in, should they be thrown out of Scouting for fashion defiance?

  14. Sandra Avatar

    Ron – no. Someone should be doing uniform inspections in each unit. Untucked shirts on boys or leaders costs the den points. I am a trainer at the district level and that is something I go over in classes. If leaders don’t set a good example, how can they expect the boys to have good habits?

    As for female leaders and their complaint that shirts don’t stay tucked in, mine stays tucked. Buying the right size is the first step. Tucking it in snugly and wearing a belt helps too. Finally, if it just won’t stay tucked, try sewing on an extension at the bottom. An extra few inches of fabric may work wonders.

    As for bottoms on females, I have seen some truly poor choices. Skin tight jeans, sloppy stretch fabric skirts, yoga pants, and low-rise pants are a few of the things I’ve seen that did not fit the idea of a Scout uniform. Please ladies, just get some cargo pants in an appropriate color for the top you choose or buy the official uniform pants. They are comfortable and durable.

  15. Ron Avatar

    I’ve been a BOY scout leader for 30 years from den leader to district , council and Philmont. ITS ABOUT THE BOYS AND THE PROGRAM not fashion. Get real.

    1. Jessica Kara Avatar
      Jessica Kara

      Thanks, Ron! You get it! I’m a Scout mom, former den leader, and possible future assistant Scoutmaster, and I wear the tan shirt untucked. With jeans or cargo pants. It looks just fine and not sloppy in any way. And, the more arbitrary rules like shirts being tucked in that we focus on, the further we move away from the actual goals of Scouting.

  16. Sandra Avatar

    The uniform, worn properly, is part of the methods of Scouting. Should we discard all standards? Flag ceremonies can be tedious. How about shortcutting them? Perhaps we could abbreviate the Scout Law.

    There are traditions associated with Scouting and the uniform is one of them. A properly worn uniform should be a source of pride, not something to dismiss or complain about. When a Scout or a leader is sharply dressed it presents an image of someone who has respect for Scouting. It is a fact that boys who are in uniform have a different attitude than boys not in uniform or in a sloppy uniform. Leaders set the example.

    By flaunting the standards set by the BSA you are showing disregard for the rules and setting a poor example for the boys. In the realbworld, disregard of standards has consequences. If you were expected to wear a suit to work and showed up in jeans and a t-shirt, what impression would that make? What might be your supervisor’s reaction?

    1. Emily Avatar

      I’ve just got to say that most complaints about the uniform have nothing to do with fashion, rather with comfort. Uniforms are absolutely not designed for curvy people. I personally always look sloppy in all uniforms because they are not designed for my figure and are extremely uncomfortable – and no matter what size I get my shirts always come untucked and pull in weird places. I would gladly wear a uniform
      Shirt untucked because it would be so much more comfortable, wouldn’t give me rashes and would allow me to have more energy to focus on the important things instead of being miserably uncomfortable in my uniform.

      The same goes for kids in the program. Most of the kids in the program really don’t like wearing their uniforms. The difference in attitude I see between youth wearing their full uniforms and those who choose to wear comfortable pants or keep their shirts untucked or wear activity shirts is that the ones wearing what they are comfortable in enjoy themselves more and are more free to fully participate in the activities. The ones in official uniforms are more focused on their appearance and keeping their uniforms neat than they are in fully participating in the activities. They look nice though!

      And when the kids who are uncomfortable in uniforms are made to wear them, then their attitudes go straight down the drain because they are upset and miserable.

      I personally think the program activities are waaaay more important than focusing on a ‘proper uniform’. I get that BSA was originally a paramilitary organization. But I don’t see it as a pipeline into the military anymore and I think it’s about time the organization officially relaxes its uniform standards. Most places I have been, most of the kids don’t wear their uniforms unless they have leaders who hyper focus on that.

      Most leaders are really laid back about uniforms and I am so glad to see that because it should be the last thing that we focus on or worry about.

  17. Tonya Avatar

    I struggle as a 4th year woman den leader regarding tucking in my tan shirt. The women’s shirts do seem shorter and every time I raise my arm it comes untucked. Depending on my self confidence that day is what seems to determine whether I tuck or leave untucked.
    I have considered going to the scout shop and trying on a male shirt? I’m also a heavier set woman and it’s very uncomfortable for me to tuck in my shirt. It seems more socially okay for men with bellys to tuck in their shirt-not women…lol!
    Honestly, I don’t think my boys even notice what I do with my shirt?!

    1. Laura Avatar

      I’m new and just bought my uniform to be a den leader. I think I bought the women’s tan shirt, but I bought men’s pants, based on the advice of the guy running the Scout store I went to. Other women who are den leaders in our pack, though, have told me they bought men’s shirts because they fit better and didn’t have that tendency to gap in the front that women’s shirts sometimes do on women who are built a little differently. You’d think women’s shirts would be made to accommodate that, but they aren’t.
      I realize I’m replying two years later, so it’s probably too late for you.

    2. Emily Avatar

      I have tried on every style and size of scout shirt to try to find on that was comfortable and have had no success. They are either too short (womens) or too long (mens) and pull in the weirdest places and give me rashes. I absolutely hate wearing a uniform. If there was a uniform
      That was comfortable and fit properly, I wouldn’t mind so much, but no organization I have been in makes uniforms that are comfortable for curvy women.

  18. Ron Augustine Avatar
    Ron Augustine

    Moms…Cub Scouting is about a program for the boys, not fashion for you. Think about what your son will learn as a boy: #1 Does it really matter what style uniform you wear? The head of the company that I worked for was a retired Navy Admiral, he told me about his memories as a young Cub Scout and their adventures, not about fashion. IT’S ABOUT YOUR SON, NOT YOU

  19. Ron Augustine Avatar
    Ron Augustine

    they are children, they have no idea about what you are wearing. (give them a few years) they want a Cub Scout program. Give them advancements.

  20. Sandra Avatar

    That’s funny. I just asked my 9 and 6 year old grandsons if they noticed whether leaders wore their uniforms correctly. They both said they did and that leaders look sloppy if they don’t tuck their shirts. They also said that when leaders look neat it makes them want to look neat too. I have had boys ask me why they have to wear their uniforms a certain way if adults don’t. So the boys do notice! It’s rather like if kids see you pick your nose or hear you use vulgar language they will follow your example. If wearing the uniform and following the rules is so very difficult or objectionable to you, perhaps Scouting is incompatible with your values.

  21. Rachel Avatar

    Some of these responses are not feeling very helpful and kind…

    As a female den leader for cubs, I can definitely feel the pain of the tan shirts not always staying tucked in or being very user friendly for all tasks. I went with tan mainly because that is what everyone else wore and the yellow shirts were not available at our scouting store when I went looking for my shirt.

    I definitely think that the Class A tan shirts have their place, but I also think that Packs should be considering a Class B shirt option for some events. Our pack has a Class B t-shirt which is navy and has the scouting emblem on the back and “I did my best” on the front. Our scouts are welcome to wear these shirts during weekly den meetings (not pack award meetings), when we are doing volunteer work, when we are hiking, when we are camping out…etc. They are expected to wear Class A when attending more formal pack events including award meetings, flag ceremonies, etc. This option is open to the leaders as well which can make for a more comfortable option for some activities.

  22. Elizabeth Avatar

    Every spring, we make our own tie-dyed pack t-shirts. It is a really fun den activity, and we have everyone in the family make their own, including sisters and parents, because in the summertime our activities are very family-oriented, things like kickball games, or family camping trips. The t-shirts are SO much more comfortable than the uniform shirts, which are very uncomfortable when it’s over 75 degrees or so.

  23. Debra Avatar

    I am looking for the Ladies Scout Skirt but can not find it anywhere on line or in a Scout Shop can anyone help me locate one?

  24. Linda Avatar

    I’d like to be compliant, but I don’t look good or feel comfortable when I tuck my shirts in. I’m a volunteer, and I don’t think wearing an untucked shirt will make a difference to the boys, but it does make a difference to me! I don’t like to go out in public feeling uncomfortable with what I’m wearing! I will set an example of wearing the uniform, but I won’t set the example of tucking it in! Cub Scouts is not the military!

  25. Tough Love Avatar
    Tough Love

    Thank you for being a volunteer! That said, do not let your own vanity get in the way of doing what is right. The idea of a uniform is that it is “uniform”, that is, the same for everyone.

    There is a purpose to the uniform, and that is to make everyone see that they are part of the same “team” part of the Scouting movement.

    When folks flaunt the uniform code, they are signaling that they think they are more special than all the others. This comes at the expense of building unit cohesion. If everyone thought that way, there might as well not be uniforms. Yet, from sports teams, to corporate wear, a standard uniform has the purpose of unifying and identifying those who are on the team. Do you remember the “Red Hat Club” for women? What about the P*ssy Hats at the woman’s march against Trump? All these are signaling devices of unity.

    Uni = “One” -form = “Way” —– Uniform = One Way.

    Get over yourself. If you want to be a volunteer then wear the uniform properly.

    Or don’t wear it at all and make sure you tell everyone that you are completely justified in thinking you are better than everyone else, and smarter too, since they are too stupid to put with wearing their uniform properly.

    Signed, Tough Love

  26. Michelle linscott Avatar
    Michelle linscott

    Tough Love, our post started out as constructive and then went downhill from there. What point you were making was lost after the 2nd paragraph.

    I believe that the female shirts were originally cut and designed to not be tucked in, ( and yes it is the right size and is not at all tight, if I go the next size up the short sleeves are to my elbows and Still do not gain much length in the body) The female shirt I have is too short to tuck and has a finished hem and open finished seam about 2 inches up the side like most women’s civilian blouses are cut to wear untucked. I was in the military and we had a Dress uniform option of a shirt that was cut to wear untucked with a cut and finished hem very similar to the BSA female uniform shirt.

    If the BSA wants the female leaders to wear a tucked in uniform then the female cut shirts need to be made with a longer tail so it can be tucked. I am an larger woman, I am 5’11” and have a terrible time finding a shirt that is broad enough in the shoulders and long enough to tuck in. If I buy a men’s shirt I end up swimming in the one that fits around my chest.

    I would also like to remind a few of the men on this board that if women want something that is cut to comfortably fit this is not unreasonable. Men’s shirts fit, women’s should too. My troop would not be able to participate in campouts etc if it wasn’t for our female volunteers. We struggle to find enough dads to be involved at times to ensure the 2 adult minimum at all our activities. Like it or not the BSA needs women to be involved and we deserve uniform tops that are cut to tuck in, if that is the way the BSA wants the uniform worn then, they need to offer a shirt that is cut to easily tuck in and stay tucked.

  27. Sarah Sollars Avatar
    Sarah Sollars

    hi all! New Den Leader mom here for a Tiigers den. I’m not sure if this was okay to do, but..
    I bought a Mens Tan Shirt in a medium and had a seamstress take in the sides so it was less “pillow case” like and that way it was long enough to tuck into whatever I was wearing without creating extra poof all over. I still had trouble keeping it tucked in today being active with my den at our second meeting, but really am glad I bought the mens.. more room in the shoulder/ and longer length. I got the blue tiger leader scarf, and wore it with jeans today. I think it would still be great to wear with dress pants/ skirt in our formal pack meeting.

  28. Sarah Sollars Avatar
    Sarah Sollars

    oh I should have also mentioned my seamstress hemmed my sleeves to mid upper-arm.. otherwise it would have been past my elbows.

  29. Ann Avatar

    Funny that people say scouts are not for fashion. Women like to dress and look like women. I saw a picture from the mid-century with a woman wearing a beautiful modest but fitted blue dress! Wish I could get one of those!

    1. Elizabeth Avatar

      An elderly leader told me that even though the uniforms change, you can always wear the old uniforms. I’d love one of those blue shirt-dresses too! (Or even just a blue shirt!)

    2. Sandra Avatar

      I’m not trying to be unkind in this response, just factual in answering the question.

      Uniforms are not fashion statements. Consult the uniform inspection sheet for adult uniforms. It’s available online if you Google it.

      If you follow the inspection sheet you will be properly uniformed. Remember, wearing the uniform correctly is one of the methods of delivering the program. A uniform, worn in a consistent manner, sets a tone and ensures that everyone is on equal footing.

      For those who have trouble keeping a shirt tucked, make sure you are buying the right size and if you still find it to be too short, sew on extensions.

      Knowing how to tuck a shirt helps too. Make sure it is pulled all the way down over your fanny before you pull up your pants. This is something the boys have to be taught as well. Many of them just cram their shirt tails into their waist bands where they promptly work their way out again.

      Thank you for volunteering!

      1. Sarah Avatar

        That’s why it makes more sense to buy a men’s- they are definitely long enough to tuck in unlike the woman’s cut instead of trying to buy the women’s and adding length, it was super easy for a seamstress to hem where needed like the sleeves and sides.

      2. Emily Avatar

        I understand that the uniform is meant to ensure everyone is ‘equal’ or ‘looks the same’ but the truth of the matter is that requiring everyone to wear the same uniform perpetuates inequality.

        1. Not everyone can afford a uniform.

        2. Uniforms are designed to fit and look nice on 1 type of body. Any differences in body shape cause immediate inequality because some people
        Look nice and put together in a uniform and others look incredibly sloppy no matter what size uniform
        They wear.

        3. Some people
        Have physical disabilities that prevent them from being able to wear a uniform or cause them to get rashes from
        Uniforms, especially if they don’t have the right body type to fit in a uniform.

        It’s time for the BSA to
        Change its well
        Intentioned policy on uniforms and realize that it actually creates more inequality among the scouts than its intention of promoting unity.

        Wearing a hat and neckerchief, that alone promotes unity.

        I live in a rainforest, it is always cold and rainy here. My scouts rarely wear their uniforms since we are all covered in rain gear from head to toe, but we always wear our neckerchiefs and hats.

        The uniform
        Is so impractical in many areas of the world.

        I do think there is an appropriate time and place for Class A (field) uniforms – At award ceremonies, and maybe at meetings that are mostly sitting and talking.

        Beyond that, I think it is impractical and perpetuates inequality amongst the scouts.

        1. Emily Avatar

          Honestly, I’d rather have my scouts be comfortable attending meetings than feel ostracized or not welcomed because they don’t have a uniform or are not comfortable wearing a uniform. I want scouts to be a safe place, not a place where kids will
          Be worried about what they look like or spending the meeting uncomfortable in a uniform.

          I do encourage uniforms, but my scouts know they are welcomed and accepted even if they come without a uniform.

  30. Laura Avatar

    I just bought my first leader’s uniform. My son is a Tiger, and I’m the den leader.
    I went with the tan shirt because I look awful in yellow. It’s not my color. I’m fine in tan. I also got the olive pants (the men’s because it fit better) because I liked the look of them better and also the fabric felt better. And they had more pockets. I want all the pockets the men get in their pants. And the waist didn’t have elastic bits. I hate elastic waists.
    But mainly, I didn’t want to look like a woman helping with Scouts. I want to look like a den leader. I don’t care if the uniform looks feminine. I figure my breasts and hips signal that I am a woman. I don’t want a special uniform just because I’m a woman. I want the uniform.
    The Scout store salesman, however, did tell me that “once a Scout uniform, always a Scout uniform,” so even if it’s not the current uniform, if it’s been part of the uniform before, you can wear it as your uniform now, apparently. I’m not going to because I like the tan and olive better, but that’s a personal preference.

    1. Sandra House Avatar
      Sandra House

      For practicality, tan shirt, olive drab pants. If you move up to a troop you won’t need another uniform. I buy the men’s items in the microfiber.

      The men’s shirts are lo get and stay tucked. And yes you need to tuck your shirt!

  31. Awkward Conversations Avatar
    Awkward Conversations

    Pointing out the awkward thing that no one wants to address? The issue is not about vanity or fashion. It’s the opposite actually.

    I apologize for the imagery, but very nice and not nice people here are not addressing the real problem!

    The placement of the pockets on the uniforms other than green venturing ones, are well, awkward. And the women’s shirts gap. We do not all fit the same! Sorry, nice volunteer person, but I know how to buy properly sized clothing. That’s why I can’t shop at every store you can.
    This is not the military so my shape is not a requirement of the job.

    Men don’t have to consider modesty an issue because they are square…Women’s figures do matter. These are young men and women—our cubscout pack just doubled! I do want to model uniforms, etc. well but BSA choices and standards do not let me.

    So awkward. I can choose to wear the Class A and look like an ‘exotic dancer with pockets or the patches dangling off my body parts’ or I can teach future men and women how to dress as people who treat other bodies, their own bodies, and the uniform with respect. And being over 40, I do not say these things without blushing!

    Second, the uniforms guidelines of today need help to do this! Thank goodness for class B shirts that our parents wear or I wouldn’t serve. I’d gladly serve as den leader but can’t. My son needs to see me as a person and role model and not as a generic nobody. That leads to far greater problems to teach children to look only at people’s accomplishments and not the people themselves. Kindness leads to empathy. Empathy makes leadership transformational.

  32. carol Avatar

    Yellow shirts are no longer sold in the Scout shops.

  33. Seth T Avatar
    Seth T

    Reading a lot of these comments I wanted to mention something. Uniforms are not required for the program. They are highly recommended but not required. That being said, rules are meant to be followed. Some rules are older and may not seem appropriate for today, however the rules are still in place. BSA has made great effort to change a lot of things recently. Uniform standards should be followed. If you don’t like the rule, don’t wear the uniform. This goes for males and females alike. The purpose of Scouting is to help teach young people how to be leaders. If we choose to pick and choose which rules we want to follow, how does that teach the kids to act? That they can pick and choose what rules they want to follow as well? I understand that shirts are cut different and some like to tuck in or not. As adults, we have to do things we don’t like sometimes. If a uniform is not sold in the Scout Shop, that doesn’t mean it can’t be worn. BSA rules state that once a uniform, always a uniform. If you like something from an earlier period, go for it. It is really cool seeing uniform pieces from vintage styles. Find something you like and go for it!

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