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Dress for Success and Beyond

Originally published on May 12, 2017

After landing your post-military job, one of the many things that you will need to tackle is your company’s dress code.  Some of you have been wearing this nation’s uniform for 20 or more years.  Your only concern in that time has been whether you are within regulations.  Now, you have the opportunity to show your personality by dressing for success.

What Do I Wear?

Most companies nowadays have a strict dress code.  You have to make sure to understand what this means.  Easiest way to do this?  Ask your boss.  They’ll be more than understanding of the fact that this may be a new concept to you after leaving the military.  Some companies may send you a welcome packet that outlines, in great detail, what is expected.  If you have landed a job where the dress code is very relaxed (Google, anyone?), then this will probably be less of a concern.  However, even in a relaxed environment it couldn’t hurt to ask what your left and right limits are.  For example, I can wear jeans on my current job, but they cannot have holes or tears.

Dress for the Job You Want…Not the One You Have

Let me make a very generalized statement:  Most companies have a “Business Casual” dress code.  In most cases, this is nice slacks/dress and buttoned up shirt/blouse.  Even polo shirts can be included in this guideline.  Some places may or may not require males to wear a tie.  Consider this, though:  You can dress above the established dress code.  What do I mean?  Let me explain:

As previously stated, I am allowed to wear jeans on my current job.  Some of my co-workers do this, but I only wear jeans on Fridays.  Why?  Because I dress for the job I want, not the one I have.  In my role, I interface with some fairly high-ranking people and I can assure you, they are not wearing jeans.  Even though I am allowed to wear jeans any day of the week, my mindset is that eventually, I want to be one of those high-ranking people.  The other reason is that I wore the same uniform every day for nearly 7 years.  Now that I have the opportunity, I want to dress in accordance with my personality.  So, most days, I wear dress slacks, nice shirt (sometimes, polo), and loafers.  This concept is completely optional, but I suggest that you consider it.  It could make you stand out in a positive way to the right people in your company.

Enjoy Your New Dress Code

You may look at your company’s dress code as a way for someone to tell you what to wear.  Make no mistake…it is exactly that.  My advice is to enjoy this opportunity.  You deserve it!  If your company requires a suit and tie for males, go to your nearest men’s clothing store and get a tailor to measure you.  If females are required to wear a blouse, go to the closest women’s clothing store and pick out blouses in different colors.  Again, someone is telling you what to wear, but you have flexibility.  Use those guidelines and apply them to your personality.  Have fun with it!


James Peyton, Jr. is an invited guest blogger for this Blog. This is a nice piece that speaks plainly to the difference between wearing the uniform and being appropriately professionally dressed for positions in the civilian world. Thanks, James! / CBF



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