Sergeant, U.S. Cavalry, Western Plains, 1880's
Because of the large quantities of Civil War issue uniforms, Civil War uniforms remained in service for the remainder of the 1860's and early 1870's. Then, as stocks of war surplus dwindled and internal pressure to do away old patterns, a series of new uniforms were produced. The entire army would switch to a hybrid uniform based on several European models, yet with many aspects that were unique to the Americans. It has been said that the U.S. Cavalry dress uniform of the 1880's is the best looking ever issued to the American soldier.

The new cavalry dress helmet drew on Prussian, Russian, and British influences, but its fur like body was unlike any materials commonly used in the Old World. The ornamentation on the front and back of the helmet, which were yellow mohair, and the cords that extended around the trooper's neck and passed down under right arm to be draped across the chest was another feature not seen on helmets in Europe. Unfortunately, earlier model helmets were top heavy and soldiers claimed that it caused headaches or proved to difficult to keep in place when mounted.

Coats for troopers had plain chests. The dress coat resembled the French chasseur's habit-turnique including the basic color of dark blue and yellow trim, but the ornamentation of the cuffs was more typical of British facings.

By 1885, the enlisted dress uniform for cavalrymen remained pretty much unchanged until the early 20th century. The troopers serving on the western plains on remote garrisons looked more like European horse soldiers on parade rather than the stereotypical image of Indian fighting cavalry depicted by Hollywood.