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'Lady Brigade' An Answer To Limited Patriotic Clothing For Women


A U.S. Navy cap or a Marine Corps bulldog T-shirt - they're easy ways for military veterans to literally wear their pride and patriotism. But for female vets, it's this pick-your-poison fashion decision.


A baggy men's T-shirt or a pink camo-and-glitter tee - you know, the kind that's marketed to military wives. This irritated Nadine Noky, an Army veteran.

NADINE NOKY: Women actually serve in the military, too. And they don't look like, you know, the first image that comes to your mind. Even just going to a doctor's appointment, they always assume that I was somebody's wife or that I worked there instead of a veteran. And I was, like, man, if I just had a shirt, I could say I'm a veteran, too.

CORNISH: See a need - fill a need. Noky started her own business called Lady Brigade, selling tops for female veterans.

NOKY: All of them are kind of different than the usual red white and blue and stars and stripes and big eagles. I kind of wanted to be more subtle.

MCEVERS: Shirts with the words this is what a veteran looks like.

CORNISH: And mother, sister, soldier.

MCEVERS: And this - any girl can wear heels, but it takes a woman to wear combat boots.

CORNISH: Most importantly, no sparkles - none. Noky's designs are in classic black, white and gray.

MCEVERS: She prints the shirts herself and fills the orders, too. Demand has been strong, and Noky admits she's a little overwhelmed.

CORNISH: Still, she says working on these tops has helped her feel closer to her sisters in arms.

NOKY: Sometimes I'll have a colonel or somebody, you know - a higher rank. And it's really cool to have, like, women veterans of all different branches and ranks, like, ordering shirts.

MCEVERS: Nadine Noky says she's got ideas for new designs, including some for family members who are proud of their female vets. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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