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Vets: Did military service effect your sense of style?

post #1 of 51
Thread Starter 
Serving in the army definitely had an effect on my sense of style. It taught me how to show a little personality while adhering to the regulations. There are strict restrictions on what one can and must wear on a daily basis, but there is enough wiggle-room to make self-expression somewhat possible. It's not all that different from CBD. To the untrained eye, everyone looks the same, but the canny observer notices the small details.
post #2 of 51
other than using starch when we were told not to, "baking" my jump boots to get the mirror shine that lasted a few weeks and putting my wet cover over a #10 can to get that perfect edge on top.. yup, fixed me right on up style-wise
post #3 of 51
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by NH_Clark View Post
other than using starch when we were told not to, "baking" my jump boots to get the mirror shine that lasted a few weeks and putting my wet cover over a #10 can to get that perfect edge on top.. yup, fixed me right on up style-wise

While nothing you named is aplicable to or advisable in the real world, all of them show that you went above and beyond the standard for personal appearance. Did you have the same attention to sartorial detail before your service?
post #4 of 51
Interesting thread, probably not many views so far. Besides shoe shine and other care preferences, there could be influences on colors, hat choice, etc. Maybe even an OCD attention to detail. Where are the comments from veterans?
post #5 of 51
I was only ever a cadet, but I was actually thinking about this the other day. I remember spending hours pressing my uniform, polishing my boots, cleaning my belt, scrubbing the brass on it to a mirror finish. The military fetishizes care of your clothing (uniform) and I definitely think that this environment where I tried to excel in every aspect certainly had an affect on how I attend to my personal appearance, and how I care for my clothes. I don't think it directly affected my style per say, but it definitely has shaped my approach to clothing.
post #6 of 51
Very interesting thread. My dad (Italian Army officer) often wore a knit tie (wool in winter, silk in summer) with his uniform instead of the regulation solid silk repp. He also wore chelsea boots instead of the regulation captoe oxfords. Not sure he could get away with this these days though.
post #7 of 51
I was an Army ROTC cadet for my first 3 years of college, just a few years ago. We wore digital camo ACUs on class days and those damn patrol caps. No more dress uniforms except for functions and commissioning. Nevertheless, even with the ACUs, if anything was out of regulation, we'd get shit for it, at least with our CO. Only place for self-expression was sunglasses, but even those were expected to be conservative. I do recall though, that some of the ex-enlisted guys in our battalion wore slightly different boots than standard issue, like Oakleys.
post #8 of 51
I was about the least neat soldier in the world - the IDF isn't known for spit and polish, and there is a sort of culture that the closer you are to the sharp end the less care you take of your appearance.

but it has influenced me- I like a very simple color pallet, I only wear boots, no low shoes, I like comfortable hard wearing clothing.
post #9 of 51
Great thread! This brings me back. There were the tiny details - a few comes to mind: At the barracks we wore our fatigues, albeit without the field equipment. - The beret fold - we would obsess over the berets, making sure the felt folded down along the head in exactly the right way, spending hours forming it with water. - When indoors, the beret placement in the breast pocket, folding it so that the emblem showed. - Lots of innovative use of the "multi-purpose cloth" - during cold days used as a scarf or ascot. - Choice of shirt under the uniform - most soldiers would wear a t-shirt or a thermal shirt under the uniform - us officers would instead wear the issued collared shirt with the issued cardigan. - The boot-shine. At the barracks, it was almost a daily competition as to who had the shiniest boots. This one guy tried to cheat with silicone once - he never tried that again. - A piece of flair - of sorts - was the choice of personal knife. For a while I carried a rather large parang, and put it on my back in my combat vest while in the field. All until my CO in anticipation of an upcoming general's visit ordered me to "get rid of the sword". - In the field face paint became a mode of expression, in addition to the knife choice. Of course, every single item of these pieces of clothing apart from the boots went in different hues of green - a very monochrome appearance. I think the most enduring thing I learned from the army was to take proper care of my clothing - the difference between a well-cared for boot and a not properly cared for boot was huge, especially during the colder or wetter months. Sometimes the weather would dip down to around -20 Fahrenheit. The worst were the rainy days with 30-40 degrees fahrenheit - that is when the shoe care really mattered. To this day I really enjoy putting on some good music and polishing a shoe or two to a good shine.
post #10 of 51
Marine veteran here. The Corps definitely had a profound effect on my style choices:
1.) I press just about everything I wear, including t-shirts and shorts. I also laugh at anything claiming to be "non-iron", as it will not live up to my standards of looking pressed without ironing.
2.) I detest anything more than a slight break in dress trousers.
3.) I obsessively clip loose strings off my jackets and trousers. These strings had the very politically incorrect name "Irish Pendants". No idea why.
4.) My dress shoes will always have a shine. Not always a mirror shine, as that is one of the few things I don't still do.
5.) I still wear my hair very, very short. Not a regulation "high and tight", but pretty close. I've tried growing my hair out, but it makes me look like a college kid who thinks he knows it all :-)

I definitely have some OCD regarding my appearance and how I project myself to others. My poor wife is also subjected to my OCD, but I'll be damned if either of us look like dipshit fuck-knuckle poorly dressed morons.

Oh, and I did get married in my dress blues. Could I have gotten a killer tux? Yup, but I'm prouder of my service to this country than my sense of style.
post #11 of 51
With school time, I've been wearing a Navy uniform almost everyday for the past 10 years. I agree with the other posters that you look for ways to style up your uniform; the very small, but significant changes you're authorized to make. The list is pretty endless, from material used, boot type, even choice of pen to stick out of the working uniform pocket.
However, I've found that focusing on the uniform appearance does not translate to civilian clothing choices. My friends agree, and you get some people that can dress quite sharply, and others that are pretty clueless (myself included up to a year ago). The simplicity of having a base appearance to then accent makes it easier, so when I was first had to think about what color shirt, tie, trousers, shoes, socks, it nearly sent me into an uncontrolled dive. The principles are the same, but it has made me more dependent on solid colors, usually dark or blue because it's rarely wrong. I'm very hesitant to dapple with lighter pastel colors, and floral patterns seem right out for me.
post #12 of 51
I spent 3 years in the army reserves, and it did make me a bit OCD where suits and the like are concerned. Shoes are highly polished - not like mirrors, but my black oxfords are pretty damned close. I also obsess about my tie - it has to be the *exact* length, and the dimple just so, before I can leave the house. I've been known to re-tie it 5 or 6 times until I feel it's suitable.
post #13 of 51
Army, 1/75 Ranger (Airborne) from 82-85

1) Never got over the short hair thing. Still get a haircut every 2 weeks although it was weekly in the military.
2) Clean, shined shoes always.
3) Crisp ironed shirts
4) No threads hanging off of clothing. I cut them off now, but we burned them off with a lighter back then.
5) We had 14 pairs of BDU's issued. 7 for the field and 7 for the barracks. The barracks versions had all but one of the pockets on the shirt sewn closed and the cargo pockets were sewn closed as well. The idea was that they would look very clean when heavily starched (which was done free at the base).
6) We shaved the extra "fuzz" off our berets and shaped them just right. Back in those days, only those in the Ranger Battalions wore black berets. Later on, in an effort to make the regular troops look better (and boost morale), the Pentagon gave black berets to all of the regular troops and gave tan berets to the Rangers.
7) Our field caps (we were made to wear Kevlar helmets about 1984) were creased just right.

I'm a chef-instructor now and I take my culinary uniform very seriously as well, and I expect my students to do the same.
post #14 of 51
Quote:
Originally Posted by escheriff View Post
I was an Army ROTC cadet for my first 3 years of college, just a few years ago. We wore digital camo ACUs on class days and those damn patrol caps. I do recall though, that some of the ex-enlisted guys in our battalion wore slightly different boots than standard issue, like Oakleys.
lulz "those damn patrols caps." if you were a soldier any more than just a cadet you'd know that the transition from patrol caps to the berets was the worst goddam thing the army ever did, ever. they should give the beret back to the rangers and let everyone else the practical headgear. also oakley boots suck and wear out in about a year. they were pretty flashy though, and comfortable. but for the $$ and the longevity, not worth it.
post #15 of 51
I have served both in the Shine and Iron party army and this new no starch, no shine, no iron, dirty boots ar'aight army. From Military Academy, - I learned to shine the hell out of brass and other metal items, even my tie bar must be shiiinyy - I can put a mirror shine on shoes - I dont really focus on ironing as most of my stuff gets ironed at the cleaners - pockets always buttoned, this was a MAJOR peeve at school -nothing over the top shiny.... shiny is bad... -no strings, burned off with lighter -laces tucked..... As per personality wise - I wont be caught DEAD in certain things - I keep it clean and simple (less is more) - I try to appear my best at any event regardless, I mean, i dont wear a tux to Costco, but I keep my personal appearance sharp. - I groom hair to military regs but most people outside of uniform are terrible dressers.... its just unbelievable... at my regimental ball a while back, I was the ONLY person with a self-tied bow tie..... besides the CG of the Division
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