earn one's stripes

Idioms & Phrases

earn one's stripes

Gain a position through hard work and accumulated-experience. For example, She'd earned her stripes by serving for years as the governor's secretary and personal aide. This expression alludes to a military promotion or award, indicated by strips of chevron or braid added to the recipient's uniform and known as stripes since the early 1800s.

The American Heritage® Dictionary of Idioms by Christine Ammer.
Copyright © 1997. Published by Houghton Mifflin.
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