Style and Styling

Style Tips from Military Life (Part 3)

Happy day, reader dear!

There was a big birthday this past weekend… October 13, 2019 was the 244th birthday of the US Navy! I’m fond of the Navy. I served in the US Naval Reserve for 10 years, and my husband’s naval service allowed our family to live abroad and see the world in ways a vacation cannot. I’ve written previously about style and wardrobe lessons that military life taught me, so in honor of the birthday, it seemed time for a few more lessons. If you are interested you can find Part 1 and Part 2 here.

As always, please feel free to share with friends and family, or on social media as you please. Your sharing helps my site and my business, and is greatly appreciated!

Rock Your World with a Great Fitting Jacket

My first work uniform was a green corduroy suit with a skirt and trousers. (No judgement, please! It was the 1970’s! And what goes around comes around. I’ve been seeing corduroy suits again.) I remember feeling amazing the first time I pulled on that jacket… There’s an authority that comes with the structure of a jacket, and it showed. I stood taller AND lost that teen slouch. I felt grown-up at the tender age of 13. About 10 years later, when I was being fitted for my Service Dress Blues, I rediscovered the zhuzh factor of a great fitting jacket. As a matter of fact, I kept and wore that jacket for years after I left the service (Yes, I took off the insignia)! If you want to know more about the amazing power of a jacket, read more here.

The first Navy WAVE uniforms were designed by Mainbocher…
Many women chose the Navy over the Army because of the uniform!

Get Tailored

I took tailoring for granted. My mother sewed and taught me. Learning to sew is an entire education in fit. Excepting school uniforms, I assumed everyone wore clothes that fit properly. It wasn’t until working retail in college and beyond that I discovered how few people wore clothes that fit properly.

Most of the young women in my boot camp company had never worn custom tailored clothing, so being fitted for our dress uniforms was an adventure and an education. The tailors who worked at uniform issue were amazing. A few pins placed and a week later we had a full kit of custom tailored pieces that fit like a dream! Not only does proper fit help you look slimmer, it makes your clothes more comfortable. Anyone who has worn too large jeans with a belt to cinch them in knows what I mean… Properly fitting clothes neither slip nor tug!

Wear Your Clothes with Pride

Anyone who has watched a loved one appear for the first time (in their eyes) in his or her military uniform will tell you that the transformation is startling. The earned privilege of that uniform creates a determination of gait and shift in posture and carriage for all to see. That shift in confidence is available to any of us. It comes from a mindset of preparation and self-respect. Every soldier, sailor, airman, marine, or coastie knows what uniform is expected for the work of the day, and understands he or she is representing not just self, but an entire branch of service. What does your day hold, and who do you represent? Stepping out prepared, with your mission in mind, and knowing who you are and what you represent is empowering.

How about you? What makes you step out with your shoulders back and your chin up? Do you use that to your advantage? How do you feel about getting more of that in your everyday life? Do let me know in the comments below…

Stylishly yours,


  • Leslie Susan Clingan

    After struggling since high school graduation – which was by the skin of his teeth – my nephew left for basic training last week. He is going Army and is currently at Ft. Leonard Wood, Missouri. I cannot wait to see the transformation in Trey that will come with completing basic. I am certain he will look amazing in his uniform. As I sure did you.

    I struggle with finding good fitting clothes. It’s a body dysmorphic thing, I think. In my head, I am bigger than I am in real life so I buy the wrong size of clothes and then they hang all wrong. My mother sewed well but I barely replace a missing button. Aww, to have a good (inexpensive) tailor!

    • closetplayadmin

      Lovely to see you again, Leslie! Sounds like Trey has a team cheering him on! Do you try on before you purchase? Or grab what you think will fit? Unless you are repurchasing an item you already know fits well, buying without trying is an exercise in frustration. Our concept of ready-to-wear is that items should fit in the store. That might be true if you work as a fit model for the company whose clothes you are purchasing, but otherwise a tailor/seamstress/alterations person is invaluable. A good tailor won’t be inexpensive, but is worth every penny! Always assume alterations into the price of everything you buy. Well fitting clothes should NOT be a luxury!

    • closetplayadmin

      Thank you for the visit, Elizabeth! Augusta is very much an Army town, so it’s nice to hear a cheer for the blue and gold!

  • Terri Cnudde

    Love this post! I agree, a great fitting blazer and finely tailored clothing can make all the difference! I was laughing about the uniform being the deciding factor for many women joining the service…That would’ve been me!

    • closetplayadmin

      I never considered another branch of service; my father was in the Naval Reserve during the Korean conflict. (Technically never a “war”.) But I couldn’t have imagined wearing the Army or Air Force’s uniforms… Just not enough panache!

    • closetplayadmin

      Thank you for the visit, Nancy! It’s odd to reflect on where (and how) the lessons we have learned have come from…

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