Federal Dress Code: Do Speedos Count?

Unless you are a member of Congress, you’ve probably taken your last vacation of the year. Schools have started in some places and most others will be up and running around Labor day.

Many of DC’ s elite — high paid lawyers, lobbyists, shrinks, PR types and media stars — take prolonged-European style vacations in August. Washington doesn’t quite become a sleepy southern town, but the lack of traffic and absence of a large number of loud-talker, inflated ego folk is a blessing for those left behind.

Soon enough we will be back to the gloom-and-doom stuff with speculation on an extended pay freeze, a rewrite of retirement benefits and plans to force feds (and retirees) to pay a larger share for smaller pensions and higher health premiums. But for now, instead of the state of the union, how’s the state of undress in your agency?

Monday’s column about the apparently fading federal dress code drew lots of responses. Most from eye-sore feds who say that because of the long, hot summer many of them are seeing a lot more of their coworkers than they want to. Some believe that Big Brother is now trying to tell people what to wear. Others equated efforts at a dress code to libertarianism and/or a hosiery fetish.


A staffer at Social Security headquarters said “most of my colleagues dress appropriately even though for many low-income workers it must be a problem. There are a handful of mostly men of a certain age who look like they stood in front of a cannon filled with old clothes and put on whatever landed on them. I especially like belts at chest level.” Eyesore at SSA

Steve B., said what may be needed “is a site to compete with the People of Walmart/ Heck, there may even be some overlap. Perhaps y’all could sponsor it and call it “people of Your Workplace’ or something.”

Paul of the IRS said “in your office the hair-do’s get me. Some look like raspberry ice cream swirls. Another looks like a Muppet.” Not that there’s anything wrong with that.

Finally, as he has before, Stan the Man came up with a visual that wrecked the better part of my day. One editor became depressed after thinking about it. Another said she was considering joining a religious order. He said “summer clothing in federal agencies could be worse if the decline in the dress code had started earlier. ” Imagine 350 pound President William Howard Taft in a Speedo. Now that that visual is burned into your mind, try to get rid of it!”

Thank you Stanley for ruining nearly everyone’s day!!!

Queasy Investors: Has the stock market roller coaster made you nervous in the federal service? Have you switched money from the C, S or I funds into the super-safe G fund? Today at 10 a.m., on our Your Turn radio show, CBS MoneyWatch columnist Allan Roth talks about what investors should—or should not—do during times like this. He says stocks may be undervalued.

Buyouts in Your Future? At 10:30 a.m. on Your Turn Steve Losey and Sean Reilly talk about the current and future status of buyouts, take a look at the drastic overhaul being proposed by the U.S. Postal Service, and check out changes that Super Congressional Committee may propose for federal workers and retirees.

Listen if you can (1500 AM or online), and if you have questions email them to me at mcausey@federalnewsradio.com or call in during the show at (202) 465-3080. The show will be archived here.


Life Savers candy was invented in 1912 by chocolatier Clarence Crane. Apparently the hot Cleveland, Ohio, Julys and Augusts drove the Willy Wonka of his time to create a “summer candy” that wouldn’t melt. So-named for their resemblance to life preservers, the first flavor was Pep-O-Mint.


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