Returning Soldier: Beyond the Uniform

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Returning Soldier:

Beyond the Uniform

Photography by Julia Lewis and Brie Bergman • Written by Jamie Etheridge

In the military, much of a soldier’s life can be defined by the precise order required to maintain a perfect gig line. A gig line is an imaginary line running from the top of the necktie down the front of the shirt to the crotch of his pants. It should always be absolutely straight and perfect for inspections.

When returning to civilian life, US service members no longer have to worry about their gig line. But they do face a variety of challenges that require attention to detail and order, including transition from the uniform of a soldier to that of a professional.

In a candid interview with ex US military intelligence analyst Eric Hines, Knot Standard learns more about one former US service member’s time in the Armed Forces, the impact it had on his career goals and how he is handling the transition back to the civilian work force.

 

When did you first enter the army?

I joined the army in 2006 and I served till 2010 as a Military Intelligence Analyst.

When did you join Columbia University?

When I exited the military in 2010 I went to community college for a year and I transferred to Columbia in Spring 2012.

What are you currently working towards in 2015?

I just graduated so I’m on hunting for a job right now.

 

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“The transition out of the military was pretty easy for me because I had established myself before I joined the military. I joined the military when I was 20 years old and I kind of had a good idea of my identity which isn’t necessarily the case for a lot of people that join when they are 17 or 18 years old.”

 

How have you found the transition from the army into the workforce?

The transition out of the military was pretty easy for me because I had established myself before I joined the military. I joined the military when I was 20 years old and I kind of had a good idea of my identity which isn’t necessarily the case for a lot of people that join when they are 17 or 18 years old. So getting out wasn’t a rough transition for me. I just kind of had a plan and went with it.

Do you find that veterans often struggle with the transition?

It is relatively common for people to struggle when they get out of the military. They go from a very regimented lifestyle to complete freedom and there’s a lot more risk involved there. So some people don’t always transition smoothly and other times they have issues finding jobs; translating their experiences in the military into skills that the civilian world finds applicable.

How has your style helped you in the transition process?

When I got out of the military I decided there were certain skills that I needed to have. One of those included learning to dress professionally. When you are in the military, they tell you how to dress. Everything is uniform and you don’t have that guidance when you get out. In order to establish a professional look I dove into finding my own style.

 

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When you are in the military, they tell you how to dress. Everything is uniform and you don’t have that guidance when you get out. In order to establish a professional look I dove into finding my own style.

 

How would you describe your current style?

I’m relatively conservative but I like to throw a little color in there – like a pocket square. I use typically bold patterns. If I wear a bold color in one area, I will offset it with something a little more subtle. If I’m wearing a very colorful suit like a bright blue suit, I’ll wear a white pocket square and a white shirt and a conservative looking tie because the suit kind of speaks for itself.

Do you have any favorite pieces that you love to wear everyday?

One of my favorite pieces is my plain navy suit. It fits perfectly and is great for any occasion. It’s so versatile that I can wear almost any of my shoes with it and I can make a different outfit out of it every time I wear it.

What is the one accessory that you can’t live without?

My favorite accessories are my watches. I collect watches. I grew up in the South West. It’s a big car culture. I grew up building cars. And I love watches because they are simultaneously a piece of engineering and a fashion accessory that you can take with you.

Who have you been working with at Knot Standard?

My representative at Knot Standard is Zack Javitt. We went to school together.

Does Zack help you improve your style?

Zack provides advice though I don’t always take. I have a pretty established style but he does give some pretty helpful tips.

Does the way you dress enhance the way you move forward in life?

Absolutely! I think there is a certain way to present yourself and having a style that is complimentary to your personality is very helpful.

Now that you wear a suit to work everyday and you are putting on a different uniform, do you feel you have forgotten who you used to be and your former job?

When you are in the military, the uniform gives you this presence. I was more confident in the uniform and it gave me a lot of positive characteristics. I feel like putting on a suit gives me a lot of the same characteristics that I got when I put on the uniform. I suppose you could say that the suit is my new uniform.

 

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“I was more confident in the uniform and it gave me a lot of positive characteristics. I feel like putting on a suit gives me a lot of the same characteristics that I got when I put on the uniform. I suppose you could say that the suit is my new uniform.”

 

What do you like about Knot Standard?

Knot Standard is great because you get a very personal touch. I even sent my brother here. He actually worked with you guys via your e-commerce site. But I’ve always dealt with the New York office. When you walk in its very comfortable. You’re offered a drink. You feel like you are getting a unique experience when you are picking out your suit. You build it from the ground up. It’s a unique piece. It’s all about you.

 

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“You feel like you are getting a unique experience when you are picking out your suit. You build it from the ground up. It’s a unique piece. It’s all about you.”

 

Would you recommend this service for fellow veterans?

Absolutely. I would absolutely recommend this service to other veterans.

Why would you recommend this service for fellow veterans?

I would say that when you are trying to establish your professional wardrobe, it can help to get some advice from people that work in the industry; They understand how a professional is supposed to dress. So if you haven’t already established your professional style, this personal experience can help point you in the right direction.

 

“They understand how a professional is supposed to dress. So if you haven’t already established your professional style, this personal experience can help point you in the right direction.”

 

To make a styling appointment with Zack Javitt please head to knotstandard.com/zack