I'm trying to look like a woman but this uniform makes it awfully hard...

In the military, we all wear the same thing every day; combat boots, camouflage pants and shirt, and a horrendous looking beret. All in all, it's awfully hard to look female when you're busy looking like a man.

In the military, our uniforms are designed with function in mind and they certainly serve their purpose. They are durable, easy to clean and hide a multitude of stains (ideal for the girl who spills at every meal!). There are more pockets on this outfit than you could ever imagine possible and they’re often placed on less than desirable locations; boobs, hips and thighs. Don’t we all love extra padding there? Sigh. Obviously, it was a man who designed these clothes.

This morning was my first day donning my winter coat and it weighs about a million pounds. Don’t get me wrong, it’s warm, but heavy, and makes me feel like the Michelin man. Not attractive. And worst of all, when I put on the coat, I tend to feel like a little kid playing dress-up. It makes me feel like I’m drowning in fabric…perhaps it’s too big for me, I don’t know. But I feel like someone is about to sneak up on me and tell me I don’t belong in the military. It’s for grown ups only.

So because we military women spend every day dressed like a man, we tend to not have much in the way of female clothing at home. For a long time, my “going out” clothing has been jeans, t-shirts and stretchy, yoga pants. Not the greatest. That is, until my units started holding “Civilian Fridays”, which means we get to shed our uniforms and wear civilian clothing to work, as long as you make a donation to United Way (a great cause!). On top of that, with my likely and impending release, I’ve been branching out into adult clothing that will serve me in the civilian world. Skirts. Dress pants. Coats that make me feel like a grown up too!

So last weekend, sporting my latest clothing acquisitions (along with a fantastic sequined hat), and sipping tea, my friend Dale introduced me to his friend and said, “This is Kelly. She’s in the military but she also writes a blog for Chatelaine.” And his friend replied, “Oh, that explains the look.” When he saw the quizzical look on my face he said, “Oh, you know, the artsy look.” AH! SUCCESS! I look female! And ARTSY at that!!

This may sound silly to others but I can assure you, I think of more important things than my clothing on a daily basis. I mean after all, I am still in the military and very proud to be. But although I may sound like a bit of an airhead ladies and gents, try to appreciate that although I love throwing on an outfit for work everyday that rivals pyjamas in the comfort department, I also crave femininity and grace. And let me tell you, that’s awfully hard to achieve in combat boots.