4 basic civilian wardrobe tips

From Military.com | By Lida Citroën

As a servicemember, your wardrobe has been pretty simple for your career thus far - you have BDUs and service dress. As you go through your workday in the military, there’s no fear that you’re not dressed up enough (or too much) or which shoes go with which outfit. Thinking about your wardrobe was probably on the bottom of your priority list when transitioning from a military to civilian career. Perhaps you purchased a nice business suit and starched shirt (or high heels for the women out there) for the interview and made an amazing first impression—and maybe you got the job.

But now that you have the job, what are you going to wear five days a week? You have one business suit from the interview — but do you even wear that on a daily basis? It depends on what type of job you have and the work culture and environment of the company in which you work. It also depends on who you are as a person and what message you are trying to deliver with your personal brand.

Here are four basic wardrobe tips everyone should follow when selecting outfits for their civilian career.

Get familiar with the dress code of the company. Many companies have moved away from business professional dress (business suits and ties) to business casual (khakis and button-up shirts). It’s important that you research your company to find out the norm so that you understand the dress code of the company. Ask people who work there about the dress code. Or, look online at the company's website – what photos do they show of people at work? Look at the manager's profiles online: Do they all dress similarly? Are they wearing heels or t-shirts?

Be comfortable. You should wear clothes that are appropriate but also comfortable. Dressing in something comfortable means you'll avoid pulling at your collar or pants because they are too tight or riding up. Look for fabrics that have a bit of stretch if this is your first experience wearing business clothes. Keep in mind what type of job you’ll have. Sitting all day at a computer? Try to stay away from fabric that wrinkles easily. Bending over a lot? Avoid tight bottoms or short dresses or skirts. Working outside in a hot environment? Dress in light colors and clothes made of breathable materials to avoid being even hotter.

Invest in quality. Choose fabrics and styles that are classic and will give you years of wear. Trendy clothing or items made from lower-quality materials will show their wear sooner and can impact your credibility. Just because you can get five or six of something, doesn’t mean it’s a good investment. You might go through them that much faster.

Be true to yourself. Above all else, be sure you feel like yourself in what you're wearing. If you hate the idea of wearing a business suit to work every day, be careful interviewing for a job where that will be protocol. To feel like yourself means you are comfortable, confident, expressive and genuine in your style. Wardrobe is a big part of how satisfied we are in our work.

Selecting your wardrobe can be fun; it’s a mixture of letting your personality and personal brand shine, while still fitting into the company culture. Remember, you can stand out while still fitting in.