Monday, May 12, 2014

What to Wear to Army Functions

I got the inspiration to write this post this other night as I was standing with a group of fairly new Army wives.  I have some time and experience under my belt, and some times I forget that others are just learning what I learned over the last 5 years.

There was a group of wives talking about how they never know what to wear to the functions.  And from looking at them, poor things, I could tell they had zero clue what was going on.  The event was a "social" and the service member uniform was ACU (camies).  And here was some wives wearing everything from jeans and t-shirts to actual formal wear.  It was odd.  But I blame the Army and the soldiers for not cluing in their spouses... If they just had a little handbook or something that explained it, life would be so much easier for us significant others so we didn't have to figure it out with trial and error and MUCH embarrassment!  That's how I learned.  And it was painful.

Now, after being to just about every kind of Army function in the last 5 plus years, I think I have it figured out.  Feel free to follow my advice... and feel free to do what you want.  But know that you have been warned ;)

First of all, the Army has this annoying way of sending out invites to affairs and then only stating what the soldier is required to wear.  This DRIVES ME NUTS!!!  It gives me anxiety...  But I have this method I came up with, I like to call, "Playing it Safe".  So this is what I do, when I see these key words on a flyer, announcement, or invite:  

(Disclaimer:  This is just what I do, and it seems to work out.  There are probably many that would disagree, and that's just fine.  To each their own, right? Also, this is a guide for ARMY not the other branches... I have no clue how they work.)

Key word:  Family

Family day with the black hawks
If the event is a family day, family activity, family BBQ, family holiday party, etc -- blue jeans, t-shirts, casual clothes, are TOTALLY acceptable.  Wear whatever you feel comfortable in, even if your soldier has to wear his ACU's.  Family means play time!!  So wear your play clothes!!

UPDATE: Something I learned recently, if it's hot outside, chances are they are going to have water activities for the kids... so throw some suits, towels, or a change of clothes for the kids in the car just in case.  We learned this the hard way... wet kids in the car are unhappy kids...

Key word:  ACU's

If it isn't a family event, and it's like a change of command, retirement ceremony, a social, any kind of event that your soldier is wearing his ACU's (even if they are dirty), you will want to dress it up a bit.  Wear a nice skirt, casual dress, pant suit, dress slacks and blouse... you don't need to be fancy-smancy, but look nice and classy.

Key word:  ASU's (Dress blues) (With tie, beret or Dress Blue CG Cap)

Ben's Commissioning
wearing beret.
If it is a commissioning or a retirement ceremony, wear a conservative dress or skirt.  And by conservative, I mean something you can bend over in if you drop something without showing off some stuff.  If it is a dinner or a social, wear a semi-formal dress -- a step above your sun dress and a step below your prom look.  A nice cocktail dress is perfect!  These are the perfect events to wear that sexy black number you have been DYING to wear out!

Ben wearing ASU's w/ CG Cap

Key word:  ASU's (Dress blues WITH bow tie) or Dress Mess (Dress uniform with the shorter jacket)

One word: FORMAL.  These are usually the Military Balls, Dinning Outs, and Retirement parties.  Break out that old prom dress (if you dare), or go SHOPPING!!  Because you are going to want to feel like a princess on those nights!  My husband's commanders have always "suggested" that their wives and girlfriends wear floor length ball gowns... but honestly, I have seen women look super fancy and classy in shorter ones.  Whatever makes you feel like the belle of the ball, I say go for it!  And don't skimp... wear your best jewelry, get your hair and nails done!  Make some memories!

NOTE: The following 3 photos are of Ben in his Class A's (Green's), he didn't get his ASU's until he commissioned.
ROTC Military Ball:  I was 7 months pregnant,
this was the closest to formal I could find!  And
it worked out alright...
ROTC Military Ball: This one was floor length...
but didn't fit me any more after I lost weight.
ROTC Military Ball:  I couldn't afford a floor length, but
I managed to pull off this cute cocktail dress anyway.
Headed off for a retirement dinning out at Ft. Sill.  Ben in his ASU's
And I was wearing the grey formal from above.
EXAMPLE!!  Basic Training Family Day and Graduation!!

For many of you, this will be your first military affair.  CONGRATULATIONS are in order if your soldier is getting ready to graduate probably the toughest thing he has done in his life.  You are super proud of your soon to be soldier and have that hot little plane ticket burning a hole in your pocket!  Can't wait to see your brave soldier in uniform -- and you are in for a treat!  If you are able to be there for Family Day AND the graduation, you will your soldier in a couple or more uniforms!  Yay!  Now, what are you going to wear?  Family day will come first.  You will want to dress to impress that man (or woman) you haven't seen in so long, BUT relax, you don't have to get to fancy-smancy.  Family day is VERY casual... NOTE the key word "Family".  Yes, you can rock those jeans your hubby loves.  If you want to wear a sun dress or skirt, go for it.  Wear what makes you feel comfortable... but don't over-do it... save the cute little number you just bought special to dress to ULTIMATELY impress for the Graduation.  Depending on the season and the commander THAT is when your soldier will be wearing either his class B's (see below) or his ASU's (Dress Blues).  This is the ticket to dress up a little.  By wearing a classy dress/pant suit or darling dress, (Don't wear a semi-formal or formal -- telling you right now, you will feel TOTALLY over dressed) you are showing support and respect for the affair... AND it gives you a chance to show off how awesome and in the know you are about military functions *wink*.  Note:  MOST BCT Graduations are outside... so prepare for that too... wear sunblock.


There will be times that certain commanders like things a certain way.  If this is the case, they will usually specify how they would like the civilians to dress.  Then you don't have to worry :)  But know one thing, "casual" in the Army does NOT mean denim jeans.  It means a nice dress or pant suit.  Just a tip :)

The most important thing is that YOU feel comfortable!  The worst feeling in the world is to feel like you are under or over-dressed and wonder if people are staring at you and judging.  You don't want to feel that way!  You want to feel like you are looking fine on the shoulder of your man.  So next time, your man says, "Hey there is a social going on next week, I would love for you to come!"  Don't ask, "What should I wear?" Because the men are totally clueless.... TOTALLY.  Ask instead, "What are YOU wearing?"  And then dress accordingly.

Hope this little guide helps!


PS There are a couple other uniform types you might want to be aware of.  But chances are you won't be invited to something for which they are wearing these.

Class B's:  They usually wear these to important meetings or Fancy Fridays.  Depending on the weather and commander, this is often worn for Basic Training Graduation instead of the ASUs.  I only see Ben wearing his on Fridays for like two seconds after he comes home at night.

PT Uniforms:  They have winter and summer PT uniforms.  Chances are you will only see your soldier in this if you wake up early enough to see him off to PT or see him all sweaty and yuck when he comes home.  I don't have a picture of Ben in his, but he bought the boys these little versions minus the infamous PT belt.


Sun Dry said...

Nice dress, I actually ordered a dress from a famous designer’s bridal collection as well for double the price and returned it immediately because the material felt so cheap compared to the my other one.
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Kira Leigh said...

The graduation I'm attending my soldier will be in December where there is snow. I am completely clueless on what to where for family day and graduation while still trying to be cute

Unknown said...

Thank you so much this was sooo informative.