When it comes to switching from military to business life, the transitions can be hard. No more “at attention” and “at ease,” no more waking up with a bunch of companions, no more cleaning weapons. Instead, you’re more worried about smiling at every new coworker so they won’t hate you, figuring out the social life of the office, and wearing the right clothing. That’s right, clothes. After wearing a uniform for so many years, you may have forgotten how to dress for success.

What’s Different?

It’s no longer just the same shirt and pants every day, and you can’t only use one outfit. In the business world, other people might look at you a little crazily. There’re also rules about what you can and can’t wear, but there’s no uniform to make it any easier. You’ve got hundreds of options to choose from, and no easy way to choose.

How Formal Do You Go?

Deciding on what to wear that day isn’t just a one time thing. Every day you have to reconsider what you should be wearing. Then you’ve got to decide whether it should be a little more formal or not. Should you wear a full on suit, or will just a shirt and tie do the job? It’s important to consider who you’re meeting with, and what your schedule is. If you’re doing an interview, interviewing someone, meeting a superior for the first time, and so on, then you might want to go the more formal route, just to be on the safe side. If not, stay with the business casual.

What to Wear-Women

If you’re looking for a general list, then dig a few of these out of your closet. Button up fitted shirts are a good go-to, but regular shirts will do just fine. As long as they’re not t-shirts, and are a little more formal, you should be okay. Don’t show a lot of cleavage, and wear longer sleeves if it’s a bit chilly in the office. In general, don’t go too tight, and don’t go sleeveless. Wear a pencil skirt or a sundress, but avoid miniskirts or long and multilayered skirts.

Slacks are fine, as long as they fit, but avoid denim and cotton. Keep your makeup natural, with conservative colors on your eyes and lips. Keep your hair brushed back or pinned up, as long as it stays out of your face. Blazers and full on women’s suits are recommended for the more formal route.

What to Wear- Men

If all else fails, a decent suit with a button up shirt and tie is a good go-to. When in doubt, wear some slacks and a shirt and tie. A vest isn’t necessary, so you won’t have to buy three-piece suits, but it is optional. Keep yourself well groomed every day, and keep your shoes relatively free of scuff marks. It’s not too hard, and if you think about it, you can even consider the slacks and shirt your new uniform, with an ability to dress it up with a blazer or suit when necessary!

 

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