Dear Posh and Political –
I am a new Congressional staffer on the Hill, and want to get your thoughts on dress code for days when Congress is not in session. Is there anything I absolutely cannot wear? Hill outfits seem to drastically vary, which has left me feeling even more confused! HELP!
– Newly Fashionable
Well Newly Fashionable whether written or not, there are definitely unspoken wardrobe rules that govern out-of-session fashion. Staffers tend to dress on either end of the spectrum on beloved “district work weeks”, as some offices permit jeans while other do not. In other words, your wardrobe uncertainty is completely legit. Let us keep in mind that we work at a place where thousands desire to work—at the country’s epicenter of law and policy-making. We represent our states and our bosses, so we need to dress the part, whether Members are physically present or not.
I have compiled a list of my top 5 cardinal style sins for Hill staffers. They seem fairly intuitive, but based on the number of offenders I see, I can assure you they are not. I hope this column prevents you from committing any future fashion transgressions!
STYLE SIN #1: FLIP FLOPS AND/OR SNEAKERS
Flip flops in the office are offensive on so many levels. Not only do they make an obnoxious amount of distracting noise, but they show far too much of one’s foot. Even if said foot does boast a fabulous pedicure. I mean come on, you are going to work. Not to the beach. So do not dress like you are. As this is the U.S. Congress, have some respect for our nation’s heritage—and avoid wearing any footwear that flips or flops.
The same goes for sneakers. This is not the Washington Sports Club. And you will not be engaging in any strenuous physical activity in your regular scope of work. So leave them at home.
STYLE SIN #2: LEGGINGS
Inappropriate. Inappropriate. Inappropriate. Fellow staffers do not need to see the shape of your body in intimate detail. Or the outline of your lower under garments. Yes, I know they are comfortable. But that does not make them ok. Leggings are far too clingy and casual to be donned around the Capitol. End of story.
STYLE SIN #3: ANYTHING YOU WOULD WEAR TO THE CLUB
This includes, but is not limited to, the following: bandage skirts, belly shirts, low cut or clingy spandex tops, anything featuring skin cutouts, bottoms that are shorter than your fingertips, sheer bra revealing blouses, etc. etc. Exercise professional discretion by asking yourself—would I feel hot enough in this to wear it to the club? If the answer is yes, get it off your body ASAP. Because while you may catch attention in this sort of garb, it will not be the positive, professional, career advancing attention that you want to receive.
STYLE SIN #4: SPAGHETTI STRAPS OR STRAPLESS PIECES
Thin straps or strapless items are never ok to wear alone in a professional setting. But with the addition of a blazer or cardigan, they can totally be appropriate. Knock yourself out on the weekend by showing skin. But do yourself a favor by leaving a little to the imagination while in the office.
SIN #5: NOT SHOWERING
In session or not, you are still the face of the state you represent. And a liaison between your member and the world. You never know who may come into your office asking to meet or who you may brush shoulders with in the cafeteria. Advance a fresh, clean, image. And not the smell of last night’s reception.
Wan’t to ask another fashion question? Send it here!
Posh and Political