Proper Attire For Meeting With A Dignitary

As I sit here in my old t-shirt, yoga pants, worn out Croc-like clogs and messy braid I think about how I would not want to be caught dead out in public like this.  This would definitely not be the proper attire for meeting with a dignitary.  Yet, practically  any time we go out we come across people, women especially, who are dressed in pijama pants, saggy tank tops, no bra and flip flops with their hair in such a disarray it looks like they made their ponytail or topknot with a hand blender.  I’m no one particularly special, but I find that kind of lack of regard for your fellow man insulting.  Home is your place to be comfortable and let loose.  When you are out in public put a little bit of pride in your appearance; maybe next time people won’t look at you like you are a piece of trash walking.

This brings me to an image I saw last night on the news.  It was of a meeting in the Oval Office.  At first glance I was a little surprized at the casual attire of many in the group.  So, I had to do some research.  It seems President Obama has issued an edict the weekends are to be business casual.  To me business casual means khaki pants, button down shirt or nice polo, sweater or sports jacket.  No denim, no mini skirts, no leggings, and certainly no need for suits, ties, or dress jackets.  If you look closely at this picture which has caused some controversy about the composition and lack of diversity of President Obama’s inner circle you will see several men in varying definitions of business casual. What I see is people taking liberties with the more relaxed dress code.  There are two men (maybe three) wearing jeans and the one woman in the picture (no, the guy in the middle does not have an extra leg coming out of his butt) is clearly wearing skin tight leggings or jeggings.  It makes business casual look sloppy.  For God’s sake they won’t even let you dress like that to wait tables at Applebee’s or run the check out at Sears.

Here’s the pic in question.

©NYT 2012, New York Times

An appropriate interview look for women includes a black blazer, collared shirt and pants or a skirt that match the jacket, said Dawn E. Kay, associate store manager at Talbots in State College. Kay suggested that women buy a basic black jacket, pants and skirt and use different shirts to customize the outfit for different interviews and events. This look would also be appropriate for meeting with dignitaries or people in government office.

photo credit: pennstatelive via photopin cc

So, if you were actually going to meet with the President of the United States or a foreign dignitary what would you wear? What is the proper attire for meeting with a dignitary?  I would wear my best suit with either pants or a skirt to the knee or just below, a conservative (no cleavage, no frills) coordinating blouse in a neutral shade dark tights, my nicest, comfortable pumps shined and free of scuffs or tears, and my hair at least pulled up in the front if not all pulled up in a french twist revealing a face that is clean, with neutral, but flattering and not too dark shades of blush and eye-shadow, brown water-proof mascara and rosy lip gloss. Definitely wear antiperspirant but no strong perfume. If you aren’t sure if the scent is too strong be safe and go without. You bathed (I hope) so you shouldn’t need it. If you have to carry a purse take only something small and coordinating with your outfit. Did I forget anything? For you guys, a solid or pinstripe dark brown, navy, black or charcoal suit with a white shirt and a tasteful tie (no puppies, skulls or other outlandish designs), dark socks which coordinate with your suit, matching belt and your best shoes nicely cleaned and shined. Take it easy on the cologne as well.Realistically, there are few people who these days go anywhere without their cell phones. Do yourself a favor while you are in the presence of the dignitary and either turn off your phone or put it on vibrate. Whatever you do, DO NOT get your phone out and text or take a call. If you use it to record sound or video, take a picture or take notes make sure that it is OK with the person with which you are meeting.

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