Style and Styling

Wardrobe Tips from Military Life (Part 2)

Previously, I shared a few things I learned about dressing from my short time in the military, and (much longer time) as a military spouse. I have come to realize that many of my attitudes about clothing and wardrobes come from this part of my past. It can be illuminating to poke into our past to see where some of our values and attitudes about dressing come from…

A Wardrobe Can Fit in a Suitcase (or a Seabag!)

I have this ideal of my wardrobe fitting into a suitcase. Actually two. One for clothes, and a second for shoes and accessories! It may be a holdover from carrying a year’s clothing wardrobe in a seabag. A seabag is the vertical green duffle bag you receive as a Navy recruit to transport all your new uniforms from boot camp to your future schools and duty stations. Everything except your cover (hat) and uniform to travel in was to fit into your seabag. (Please note: Uniforms have changed since the 1980’s!) Civvie Parallel: If you plan well, your clothing wardrobe can fit into a suitcase, and take you far. Any trip less than a household move does not require a 70 pound suitcase!

UOTD (Uniform of the Day)

In the military, depending on your duties you have a UOTD. This tells you what to wear. One day you may dress in a working uniform, another in a service uniform. You have what you need for everything from scrubbing bathrooms and repairing equipment to attending a military ball. You may not have a lot of options, but you are covered for all occasions. Civvie Parallel: Make sure you have what you need for the life you live, and the unexpected (funerals, jury duty, visiting your lawyer, banker, or accountant) You don’t need a lot of options, but your wardrobe should cover all the bases!

You Can Survive with 4 Pair of Shoes

I had some lovely shoes before I joined the military, and plenty of them, but I never wore them nearly as often, or learned to take care of them, as I did in the Navy. The 4 included: running shoes, boondockers (work boots, and I still have them), oxfords, and pumps. They were all incredibly comfortable and practical. Civvie Parallel: If you feet aren’t comfortable, you won’t be comfortable. When I pack a suitcase to travel, I often start with the shoes. Do I have what I need for all the different adventures planned on this trip? (But I probably don’t need more than 4 pair…)

Pumps and Trousers

I know the pumps and trousers look is ubiquitous, but in my 1980’s new-university-graduate mind, trousers and jeans (and anything else) were worn with flat shoes. Heels were reserved for skirts and dresses. When we were fitted for our dress and service uniforms, we were instructed that either oxfords or pumps were our shoe options. Oxfords with a skirt? Pumps with trousers? I certainly didn’t see either as a fashion statement, but it got me out of my default habit of trousers and oxford style shoes, and skirts and pumps.  Civvie Parallel:  Mix up your silhouettes and see how you like it! Sometimes we get into a rut, and forget we have other options. Trousers with heels can rock! So can a skirt or dress with oxfords!

What attitudes about dress come from your childhood? Or from your university and early post-uni days? Please share in the comments below!



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