RETIREMENT! This very occasion brings tears, joy, respect, worry, and a plethora of emotions all mixed for the retiree and their friends & family. The experience becomes even more intense when the retirement is from years of military service. The service members go through an incredible journey right from their induction until their retirement. It is a journey filled with adventurism, thrill, comradeship, and the pride of serving one’s nation which ends with a befitting official retirement ceremony.
If you are lucky enough to be one of the attendees, taking note of the military retirement ceremony dress code is of utmost importance. The military teaches respect above all else and adhering to the dress code outlined in military customs and regulations is essential.
Retirements are important
More than that, it is a celebration of a superb, dedicated service that these men and women have given to their country, and the citizens inhabiting it. This is a ceremony to honor those who have dedicated and risked their lives for the very foundation of freedom that we all hold so dear in this country.
Retirement can be a stressful time for members of the service for several reasons. The first is that this is all that they know. Retirement is difficult for all of us because we spend so many years doing the same thing each day and then that thing is suddenly gone.
The second is having to say goodbye to friends and peers. Part of the military experience is the camaraderie and brotherhood that being together with the same group of people can bring. Knowing that a separation will occur form those people can be a big thing to get used to and can make for difficulty when retiring.
By dressing correctly for these ceremonies, it shows respect and appreciation to those who have served for so long. Again, respect is the key here, and those that are retiring from active service will be appreciative at the level of respect shown to them.
Attire for Members of the Military
For the honorees themselves, the attire is straightforward and does not change: uniforms and any medals that have been awarded to that member of the military for their service or any specific acts of honor. In all military-related services, current or active members of the military will be required to wear their uniforms.
For military retirees and veterans, the rule is the same. A retired veteran is normally a member of the military who has served 20 years or more. Also, there are medically retired service members that were injured in the line of service who are also classified as retired military members.
Attire for Family Members
For family members of service members or the honorees, there is no specified attire, but there is an unwritten code of attire to follow. For men that are non-service members, it is widely acceptable to wear dockers and a button-down shirt. Ties are encouraged but not considered mandatory. Suits are acceptable as well, though not necessarily required.
For women, the attire is a bit more open. A nice dress is indeed acceptable, but so is something like a business casual pantsuit or slacks. It is not a black-tie affair, but there is a standard that should be followed.
The attire for children is generally accepted as “church clothes.” These don’t necessarily include a suit and tie but are better than their everyday wear. Something like a button-up shirt and slacks, as well as better shoes, would be more than acceptable.
Special Exceptions to Consider
This is more of a tip for women during military retirement ceremonies. It is generally considered a good idea to own a set of classic, interchangeable pieces of clothing such as a jacket, pants, a black skirt, and shoes.
If tours are being run, it might be a good idea to wear pants instead of a skirt. Ladders and stairs are commonly used during these tours and manned by random members of the crew. They stand at the base of the ladder or stairs and look up to guide you. Wear something that won’t give them an inappropriate view.
While heels may give a little something extra to an outfit, it might not be a good idea to wear high heels or stilettos to a military ceremony. You will need to stand while flags and honors come out, and sometimes, these events are held in grassy areas. More often than not, there is bleacher seating as well, and those are more difficult to traverse with heels. Give yourself an easier time navigating these things. Your feet will thank you for it.
Know the weather and pack for an emergency
This goes for both men and women. While there is indeed a “dress code” to adhere to, it is essential to keep the weather in mind. Dressing for the climate is necessary because you don’t want to stand there shivering or sweating profusely. That will look worse than any fashion faux pas.
Another great idea for women attending a military retirement ceremony is to pack emergency clothing. Stockings, safety pins, deodorant, clear nail polish, and other items that you may need in a pinch to touch something up or act as a replacement should be kept.
Preparation and common sense is key
We have all been to events that require a dress code and can apply a level of common sense to an event like this. Wearing very casual clothing is frowned upon; you don’t need to dress to the nines, but it is essential to dress for the occasion.
Be smart about the climate and dress for the weather to avoid discomfort. The last thing you need is to spend your time shivering or sweating profusely.
Summing it all up
Above all else, it is about showing respect to members of the military that deserve to be honored. Dressing the part indicates that level of respect and lets the honoree know that you respect them enough to dress appropriately and be there on their special day.
Take into account the suggestions mentioned above, and you will be well equipped for any military retirement ceremony. When in doubt, ask friends or family or those you know in the service what the specific dress code may be so that you can prepare accordingly. It is better to ask than to assume in this instance. The honorees will undoubtedly appreciate it when they see you on their special day.