For the next few weeks I’m visiting my mom in Illinois. While she’s at work during the day, two main things are on my agenda: finish and FedEx piles of paperwork back to State, and shop. The first task daunts me, and so I’m distracting myself from it by focusing on the second.
I certainly don’t need more clothes, but I do need more professional clothes. My last job required a very casual business casual, which won’t fly with State. What will, you ask? I’ve been wondering the same thing, and this is what I’ve surmised:
Are suits required? For men, yes. For women, sort of. A jacket is always necessary, but mixing and matching is okay.
Are pantsuits allowed? Sure.
Are dresses okay? With a blazer, yes.
Are pantyhose required? You’ll feel like the odd woman out without them.
What about high heels? Flats are fine, as long as they’re professional.
And peep-toe shoes? Fine, as long as they show fewer than two and a half toes. (Crazy, right?)
What about accessories? You can never go wrong with pearls, but eclectic stuff from other countries will go over alright too.
I could run out and buy loads of suits, but here’s the problem: this is only the dress code for the initial five-week training course (A-100). The standards relax to business casual if you stick around in DC for more training, as most people do. And then the expectations vary depending on where in the world you end up. FSOs dress differently in Paris than they do in Port-au-Prince, not surprisingly.
This is what I’m thinking, at least for now:
- One more suit (thankfully I already have one!)
- Two additional jackets
- A week’s worth of dress shirts
- Two pairs of professional but comfortable shoes (black and brown)
TJ Maxx and Marshalls, here I come!