Military uniforms are great while you’re serving in the military, but what are you supposed to do when yours is old and worn, and you’ve long since retired? You could keep it hanging in the back of your closet, gathering dust, or you could take a more creative approach…
Old military uniforms can be used in a number of different D.I.Y. projects to create wallets, lanyards, or other accessories. They can also be donated to charity or put in a display case as a way to remember and respect the time served in the military.
There are plenty of fun, creative ways to use your military uniform. Keep reading to learn more about D.I.Y. projects and other options you can choose as the best way to put your old uniform to good use!
Donation is the best way to get rid of any old clothing without wasting it. Now someone else can use it and you don’t have it cluttering space in your closet anymore. It’s a win-win!
However, it is good to know that before you donate anything, you must first remove any insignia, emblems, and names from the uniform. Most militaries request that you do this, not only to respect the uniform, but also to keep people from buying those old uniforms and using them to masquerade as soldiers. For national security purposes, it is best to remove all symbols that make it unique as a military uniform. Once you’re done, it should look like a generic military uniform replica that someone could buy at a Halloween store–not something someone could use to waltz right onto a military base.
There are many options for donation. You can drop it off at your local Goodwill. Or, you cando a few more minutes of extra research and find some military-specific thrift stores. If you donate to them, you can ask what their policies are on donated uniforms. They might not want you to remove emblems from the uniform, since other soldiers might purchase used uniforms from their store to wear in service.
Make a wallet
Good wallets are great, but they’re also usually (ironically enough) expensive. If you’re wondering what to do with your uniforms and you happen to be in need of a new wallet, kill two birds with one stone and turn your old uniform into your new wallet. Because let’s face it, you’ve probably been needing a new one for a while now, but who’s got the money to waste on a wallet?
Most wallets are made out of leather, but if you use your uniform to make one, it will be fabric instead. This isn’t a bad thing, and there are plenty of good fabric wallets out there, but be careful to look up guides on how to make fabric wallets instead of leather ones, as they will have very different instructions. Below is a YouTube video that shows you how to turn any fabric (from an old uniform or not) into your very own new wallet.
Make a tote bag
Tote bags are simple, useful for almost any event, and they can be made out of your old uniforms. That way, every single time you hitch the tote bag over your shoulder, you’re literally carrying your sense of national pride with you everywhere you go.
Make some lanyards
Lanyards are as useful and have about a million uses. You can use a lanyard to carry your keys, wallet, ID cards. You can even fill them with decorative pins you got from Walt Disney World, family vacations, or from your military service. What better way to reuse an old uniform than by putting it to work?
When searching for a guide on how to make your own lanyard, just be aware that your uniform has the right length of fabric. You might want to turn your uniform pants into a lanyard since they’re longer in length and should have more than enough inches to make your very own lanyard.
Give it to your family
Even if you might not have use for your old military uniforms anymore, your parents might. There’s no doubt that they were extremely proud of your service, and they would probably love to have one of your uniforms in their house for safe-keeping. Then they can always remember how their child sacrificed years of their life in order to keep the country safe.
Even if your parents don’t like storing keepsakes, there might be other members of your family, (such as grandparents, spouses, or even kids) that would love to have a piece of your military service. Before you get rid of your uniforms, consider texting your family members. It doesn’t hurt. And it could inspire some of the younger family members to enroll in service one day.
Turn into another type of clothing
Just because you’re not wearing this uniform for the military anymore doesn’t mean you can’t rework the fabric into some other fashionable outfit. There are plenty of other accessories and outfits that military uniforms can be turned into, so you can look stylish while being patriotic at the same time.
We said this before, but we’ll say it again: Be careful to remove any insignia before reusing military uniforms as new clothes. There are certain rules as to when military uniforms can be worn appropriately (depending on the country and branch), but you can wear your new uniform-clothes anytime you want, as long as you get rid of the emblems.
Scarves are the easiest and most popular D.I.Y. clothing accessory out there. They’re simple, they keep you warm, and they’re one of the easiest to make. They can be made out of old uniform pants and tops since both have long stretches of plain fabric. Scarves aren’t always the best option for old dress uniforms, however, but all other uniforms can be turned into classic (sometimes camo) scarves.
If you’re looking to add some more femininity to your old uniforms, you can always turn them into dresses. There are plenty of beginner dress patterns, and you can use your old uniform’s fabric in order to make something adorable to wear.
Or, if you have children (or nieces and nephews), you can always turn your old uniform into tiny t-shirts or outfits for them to wear. It would be even cuter if they are planning to follow in your footsteps. Imagine how excited they would be to get their parent’s old military uniform that they can wear, just like you! To a little kid, that’s the coolest thing on the planet. And just think, if you have more than one extra uniform, you can give one to them, and keep one to wear. Then you’d be matching. Now that’s adorable.
Return it to the military
Now that you’ve retired, you don’t really have much use for your uniform anymore. If none of these options sound like good ideas, and you’d rather just get rid of your uniform over turning it into a wallet, we can’t blame you. Buying a new wallet at the store is just easier than trying to make one from scratch. That is completely understandable, but before you toss your uniform out for good, you can consider returning it to the military for future use.
Returning it to the military is a really simple option, and even if you don’t live near your old base, you can always research the one closest to you. A quick Google Maps search can and will tell you exactly where all the nearest bases are. Even if the base for your branch is far away, the internet is at your fingertips. One quick email to the base can let them know that you have a used uniform you’re willing to give to them, and they can let you know how they handle returns.
Put it on display
You might not want to wear your uniforms anymore, but you might not want to get rid of them either. In that case, the best thing to do with old military uniforms (especially old dress uniforms) is to put them in their very own display case.
Think of Mr. Incredible and what he did with his old superhero uniform. Bob wasn’t running around saving the world anymore, but he wasn’t exactly ready to forget all those memories either. And just like him, you can get a display case for your uniform to have in your office or house as a way to remember the time you served in the Armed Forces.
Amazon has a plethora of options, including display cases (or shadow boxes) that can hold an entire top half of a uniform, or shadow boxes that only hold your medals and awards.
However, these options are somewhat expensive, so if you don’t want to spend over one-hundred dollars on a shadow box, don’t worry. There are other ways to hang your military uniform from the wall without paying for a super expensive box. Click this link to check out alternate options for hanging old uniforms and jerseys.
The best part of this option is the fact that you will still have your uniform, which you might be able to wear again. To know all the options of wearing your military uniform, check out this website link below. It outlines the regulations on when veterans and retirees can break out their uniforms again: https://www.thebalancecareers.com/military-uniforms-by-retirees-veterans-3356978