Military to corporate clothes closet makeover tips

Leon Scott

If you ask Leon Scott, Career Coach, when’s a good time to job hunt and cast your communication about, he’ll be very specific. There are seasons, that work better, but it’s always a good idea to be prepared and to look the part, when you are presented with the opportunity to make an impression.

Dressing well during interview or connection opportunities is always in season. They say the clothes make the man. Perhaps the man or the woman candidate for employment, improve their chances and their confidence, in the right clothes.

So in this social season, step out with your best attitude as an accessory. And, if you still need to find a gift for someone whose success you care about check out these tips and see what you can do to round out their working wardrobe.

From Uniforms To Civvies – The Veteran’s Guide to Your Civilian Wardrobe by Leon R. Scott

When you served, it’s likely you didn’t have to worry about what to wear to work. The military made it easy for you to dress for every occasion. Service men and women were told what to wear and when to wear it.

As your military days come to an end, your clothing choices are now entirely up to you. You also gain the responsibility to dress appropriately. Failure to do so will harm your chances of getting referrals and gaining employment. No matter how well-trained you are, or how knowledgeable you may be about your preferred occupation, people will judge you by your appearance.

Blazer and tie in conservative colors as business Uniform

Jacket and tie as civilian work uniform

You can avoid a lot of anguish by preparing now for your transition into civilian life. Here are seven items you should add to your closet to get your civilian life stylishly off the ground:

1. A high quality navy blue or charcoal gray suit
Why? Because this is the foundation of the “uniform” for the business world. You’ll be expected to dress appropriately for your interviews. If you don’t, you won’t get hired.
This also applies to those of you that will start your own businesses because you’ll need to make a great first impression when you begin networking to promote yourself and your business.

2. Two long sleeve dress shirts or blouses – either two white ones , or a white and a light blue one

Why? Because your first shirt may get dirty and you’ll need to have another one ready to go. In the beginning of your career, stay with the basic colors until you’re hired. They’re easy to find and easily accessorized.

3. A pair of quality black leather dress shoes

Why? Because they’ll go with a wide variety of colors and they’re easy to care for.
With your new shoes, be sure to invest in shoe trees. They’ll help your shoes keep their form and will help ventilate them.
Note – While your patent leather military dress shoes look great in uniform, they’re out of place in the business world. Don’t wear them after you take off your uniform.

4. Two or more silk ties or scarves

Why? Because when you go to your second (or subsequent) interview, you’ll want to show that you have more than one outfit to wear for work and other work-related occasions.

For now, stick with a conservative color and pattern. Solid colored ties and scarves, as well as striped and conservatively patterned neck-wear  are acceptable; novelty ties are not.

5. A navy blue blazer

Why? Because it’s the foundation of the business causal “uniform”. It’s versatile because it can be dressed up with a tie and a dress shirt, or dressed down with a polo shirt and dress slacks. The blazer can be worn all day or can be removed if it’s too warm.

6. Dress slacks or skirts in gray or tan

Why? Because you’ll need something to go with your blazer.

These colors are easily paired with a wide variety of colors and can be worn year round. Be sure to purchase quality items because they’ll fit better on you and will last longer with proper care. Slacks and skirts made of wool and wool blends are your best bets.

7. Casual leather shoes

Why? Because they’ll give you another pair of shoes to wear to events where business casual attire is called for.

Sneakers/runners/athletic shoes should be saved for events where casual dress is appropriate.

These shoes can include loafers, dress boots, etc. For women, these would include flats, loafers, and sandals. Flip flops are not appropriate for business activities unless they’re held on a beach or a locker room.

Some other things to keep in mind are that you also will be able to do whatever you wish with your hair and body. If you’re clean shaven, you may want to put off growing a mustache or beard until you’re hired. The scruffy look you’ll have while it’s growing won’t help you make a good first impression.

While you may want to grow your hair to a longer length, be sure to keep your preferred style neat and clean. Don’t experiment with hair coloring until after you’ve secured your new position.

You should also refrain from getting piercings (other than the ears for women) and tattoos until you find out your company’s policies on them.

You’re coming into a time in your life when people will see you as an individual, not a part of a unit. Develop your style by building your wardrobe with the solid foundation of the seven listed items.

Okay then, you’ve got your recommendations from the runway to the right track to workplace style. Enjoy the season.

 Are you in the process of job hunting? 


Please leave a comment or question in the box below for Leon, or for MilSuccessNet’s editor, Helena, on articles you’d like to see, or even write for us!

Fun fashion fact:   You KNOW that there will be ties in your near future as gifts get opened. In fact, in the United States alone,  more than $1 billion is spent every year just on men’s neckties.   


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