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Looking for suit style suggestions for a new job in DC

post #1 of 6
Thread Starter 
First, I need to say that while I'm definitely an avid reader of this forum and long to be able to drop huge dollars for clothes and labels like some folks, I've got a baby on the way and will be dropping down to a single income at the end of the year. So keep that in mind with your suggestions.

I will soon be transitioning to a job in Washington working for a federal agency. I emailed my Director to find out what sort of dress code I would be looking at. Basically asked him whether I should be shopping at Banana Republic or Brooks Brothers.m He said people of my grade are required to wear button-down shirts and ties, while the next grade up should be in business suits. Naturally, I want to dress for the position I want, so I would like to step up my game. At the very least, I need some decent sport coats.

What I'm looking for are style suggestions. My style vocabulary is pretty slim. I need some safe suggestions on what's appropriate for a DC office job, but want to get to the point where I can push the envelope and express a little individuality.

I need to get some pics, I suppose, so y'all can get a feel for my build and what's appropriate. I'm 5.8' 180ish, 17 1/2 neck and 32/33 arms. Finding shirts is a nightmare, let alone a suit jacket. I shave my head and sport a short, cropped beard and wear a nice, heavy pair of Persols if that makes any difference. I'll also be train commuting.

I would love to learn what to look for in a suit that conveys either a late 1950's style à la Mad Men or even something slightly reminiscent of an Air Force service dress uniform.

Wish I could be more descriptive about what I need help with. Sort of threw me for a loop when I found out the level of dress to expect.
post #2 of 6
What agency, what grade, and what position?

If it is the FBI prob a suit. Most others you can get away with a lot. Maybe even jeans.

I would not recommend that but you will be surprised what people will wear. If you dress too sharply they may think you are a contractor. But under a 14 at most agencies you should be more than fine with slacks and tie. A suit for the first day would be nice and see how it plays.
post #3 of 6
Thread Starter 
Wasn't sure if I should be posting the deets. But this is the semi-anonymous-internets, right? :P I'll be a 13 at DHS working in an IT Security position. I'll apparently be in a position where I'll be interfacing with different groups and doing frequent executive presentations. My director specifically said the 13s and below are shirt and tie and above is a business suit. So maybe wearing a suit all the time is pushing it a bit. But maybe a sport coat is a nice compromise.
post #4 of 6
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ahab View Post
Most others you can get away with a lot. Maybe even jeans.

I would not recommend that but you will be surprised what people will wear. If you dress too sharply they may think you are a contractor. But under a 14 at most agencies you should be more than fine with slacks and tie. A suit for the first day would be nice and see how it plays.

+1. It bears repeating that the sartorial standards in DC are generally quite abysmal. If you have been following this forum for a while and are thinking of applying what you've learnt from the iGents, you will definitely be too well dressed relative to your co-workers.

If you want, to borrow your phrase, to "push the envelope", I would suggest that you concentrate on wearing good-quality, tailored, well-fitting shirts and slacks. In a city where a lot of people wear clothes that are two sizes too big for them, this step alone will place you sartorially leagues ahead of many DC bureaucrats you are most likely going to be working with.

You also have some latitude with colors - go for relatively exciting colors in your shirts and ties - as long as they are not too loud. Also invest in two pairs of good quality and well-constructed shoes.

All the best, and welcome!
post #5 of 6
Wait until you're a 14, unless you'd like to have every other person you meet ask you why you're so dressed up.

I'd definitely pick one up for presentations however.
post #6 of 6
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by blackbowtie View Post
If you want, to borrow your phrase, to "push the envelope", I would suggest that you concentrate on wearing good-quality, tailored, well-fitting shirts and slacks. In a city where a lot of people wear clothes that are two sizes too big for them, this step alone will place you sartorially leagues ahead of many DC bureaucrats you are most likely going to be working with.

That's great advice. I appreciate it! When I took my current job, a corporate security gig in Baltimore, I developed somewhat of a fetish for men's shirts. Slowed down a bit when the top dressers in the department moved on and left me without the daily style inspiration.
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