What is professional attire in metro DC in hot weather?

The Washington, DC area seems to have a reputation for requiring more formal business attire. How about when the weather is very hot and humid? Like it seems to be now. Is it OK to not wear a suit for business purposes?

Some places go on summer hours and dress during the summer, but most Congresspeople require their staffers to wear full formal attire even during the hottest days in July. The same goes for lobbyists and others who do business there. Luckily, they’re out of session most of August, and the underground walkways allow people to avoid the outdoors. Some office buildings are cooler than others, too. You can tell the difference between Hart and Russell, Hart’s got the big inner atrium while Russell’s got stuffy corridors, but everybody has AC. Also, during the summer your employers won’t care if you take a cab to go a few blocks. I forgot this rule my first week at my internship, so I ran 8 blocks and back (I had a date at noon) to Evan Bayh’s office, and came back a sweaty mess. Luckily, I’m an intern who thinks ahead, and I carried a small deodorant stick in my pocket.

If you think this is bad now, wait until August. Most firms allow “casual August” because it’s so awful.

Professional attire generally gets rolled back during the summer here, so men still have to wear ties, but jackets are for carrying and putting on when you get to the meeting in the airconditioned office. Shirtsleeves all other times. For women, summer dresses, sometimes with light jackets, are perfectly professional. Different employers have different standards, but nobody likes summers here.

False_God (who is in tradecraft classes and therefore gets to wear shorts and Hawaiian shirts)

Try interviewing for a job in DC in August! It was impossible for me to make a good impression when I showed up to the interview site on a Code Red Ozone day. I would be drenched to the bone, dripping with sweat, smelling like a wet sheep since my classy wool suit had been soaked through. My tie was used in desperation to dob the sweat pouring off of my brow. I usually arrived in the lobby about an hour in advance in order to recover, cool off, and spend time in the bathroom to put myself back together.

I don’t know how people do it here in the summer. I see men in full formal business attire, sweating away, at all times of the summer. I think women on the Hill have a little more (but just a little more) refuge, because they can wear skimpy blouses and skirts. A man doesn’t have many options, and wearing a polo shirt just doesn’t cut it on the hill. Sigh!

I’m glad I’m moving.