Dress for success: Experts help service members dress the part to land post-military service employment
Image consultant and tailor Sofio Barone, left, changes Marine Corps Lt. Col. John Sarno's attire from a purple to a blue tie to demonstrate color coordination during a professional imaging and attire class Dec. 18, 2015. Barone's class teaches retir... (Photo Credit: U.S. Army) VIEW ORIGINAL

When it comes to landing a new job after military service, personal image can mean everything.

Just ask U.S. Army Col. La'Tonya Lynn, who is retiring after 29 years of military service. The Army veteran attended a professional imaging and attire class on the Henderson Hall portion of Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall last month. The class was part of a transition workshop for senior military leaders who are retiring from the service.

Lynn, who is no stranger to wearing civilian business attire, said she learned a thing or two about the dynamics of dressing the part for different professional occasions, such as job interviews, including how to coordinate her business attire with her skin tone.

"There are various color pallets based on one's own natural complexion that will give them a warmer presence during the interview and that can highlight those color pallets for casual wear," said Lynn, who added that the workshop added to her knowledge about business attire wear.

U.S. Army Col. Patrick Bond, who attended the same class, learned that he needs a wardrobe change.

"I have to [buy more clothes] that are of the latest fashion and make sure I am not dated with a lot of my suits," said Bond, who characterized the class as a "reality check."

Both Bond and Lynn, who work at the Pentagon, are senior service members transitioning out of the military. They attended the class last month, which was led by image consultant, entrepreneur and tailor Sofio Barone. The "dress for success" class is part of a week-long seminar called the Senior Leadership Transition Readiness Seminar, one of several transition courses offered by Marine Corps Community Services Henderson Hall's Career Resource Management Center.

The course is specifically designed to cater to the "executive-level leadership and high-profile positions" of senior military leaders, according to the center's webpage. The seminar is open to enlisted members of the paygrade E-8 and above, warrant officers-4 and above, as well as officers in the paygrade of O-5 and above.

"Image is important," explained Stephanie Hechtkopf, program manager for the center's Personal and Professional Development Branch at Henderson Hall.

Army Community Service Employment Readiness Program Manager Judy Joyner agrees.

"Being dressed in the appropriate attire for work has an impact on your progression in the work place," she said. "You want the client or the boss to concentrate on what you are saying and not [on] the bold color, wild design, jewelry, the fabric or the way the clothing fits your frame."

During the December class, Barone spoke to attendees-mostly colonels and lieutenant colonels- about the types of professional attire; non-verbal communication considerations; perceptions and the proper wear of clothing accessories.

The class is critical to rounding out the week's course load, reinforcing to retiring senior leaders the importance of appropriate dress, according to Hechtkopf. In short, appropriate attire could help a transitioning service member get an edge up on the competition when seeking career opportunities after military service.

"[Some] service members are used to being in a uniform," said Hechtkopf. Likewise, some service members may not have experience in selecting, or wearing, appropriate civilian business attire, she said.

That's where these "dress for success" classes, which are also offered at Soldier for Life-Transition Assistance Program seminars and through Army Community Service on the Fort Myer portion of JBM-HH, come in.

"[The training] gave me some different ideas, so I will try some different things," added Lynn.

The Career Resource Management Center also offers similar classes for junior officers and enlisted personnel who are transitioning out of the service, said Hechtkopf.

There are also classes for military retirees, she said.

To learn more, visit the center's listing of available courses online at www.mccshh.com/crmcclasses.html.

For a listing of transition seminars and classes offered by the JBM-HH SFL-TAP office, visit http://go.usa.gov/cnJwA. For similar classes offered by ACS, call 703-696-3510.