What’s trending in summer 2015? Navy.The color that is. Even though we knew what stylist, Wendy Pilch was referring to, her comment didn’t go over well with West Point Women attending a lunch and learn at KornFerry hosted by Kate Kohler, USMA ’96. Liz Halford, USMA ’88 had the best rebuttal when she reframed, “Put navy to work for you.” During the session, Wendy gave tips on executive presence for men and women, summer 2015 go-to items, and updating your wardrobe to stay current and professional.
Dressing for success in the military is simple. Make sure that you’re in the correct uniform with all of the needed pieces. If you’re wearing a dress uniform, ensure that ribbons and badges are in the right precedence on the appropriate side. Depending on the uniform, have shined shoes. And, don’t forget your hat. At West Point, there was even a uniform flag to guide what jacket to wear outside.
It’s not so easy to figure out what to wear as you transition to the civilian sector. “What? I can’t wear the outfit/funeral suit I bought as a young officer? It’s barely been worn.” Dress for the job you want. If you are going on a job interview, consider updating your outfit with current executive fashion trends so you don’t look like you are heading to an 80’s theme party. And after you land the coveted position, remember moccasins in the executive suite only work if you are recovering from foot surgery.
- Invest in confidence. Spend money on the things that make you feel at the top of your game. Whether it’s having a hair blowout before a big presentation, a signature piece of jewelry, or an indulgent handbag, consider them worthy investments for the sense of assurance they convey.
- Simplify your wardrobe. Have fewer quality pieces in your closet, not dozens of intermittently worn items. Ask a friend to advise as you TRY ON EVERYTHING from your closet. Good questions to guide the discernment are: does it bring me joy? Do I project confidence when I wear this?
- In a business setting, you want the focus on your competence, not aspects of your appearance like piercings, tattoos, jingly jewelry, transparent clothing or cleavage. Different professions have ranges of what’s considered appropriate attire. Observe and comply, at least at the beginning of your tenure with a company. Project the image that you care about your appearance and are savvy to the nuances of the workplace.
- Find a good tailor to personalize the fit of jackets and slacks.
- Consignment shops can be your friend. It may take some sleuthing and patience, but you may find treasures at bargain prices.
- Once you’ve thinned your closet, you can donate professional items to Dress for Success or another organization that promotes the career development of disadvantaged women. Here’s the link for the DC affiliate:
- What’s in for men: double vents on suit coats and brown shoes. Must-have suit colors are charcoal gray and pin-striped navy.
Ultimately, everyone leaves the military. From your time in service, take the lessons learned and experiences and friendships gained, but you may want to consider leaving uniform clothing items out of your post-military employment wardrobe. Yes, that means it’s time to replace the low quarters and issued eyeglasses.
© Joan S Grey, 13 June 2015
Lessons from an examined life www.indexcardcure.com
Spendalla LLC Personal Shopping services was founded by Wendy Pilch. Wendy and her staff provide personal shopping services for individuals living in the Metropolitan DC Area. They work closely with clients to give each a signature style. By shopping for clients and with clients, Spendalla Personal Shoppers can help save time and money. http://www.spendalla.com/