Here Is the 'Dress for Success' Presentation Given at the DIA

A presentation given at the DIA does not 'advocate the 'Plain Jane’ look.'

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Do you ever have trouble getting dressed for work in the morning? Do you wonder which suit will give me more authority: pinstripes or solids? Can I wear open-toed shoes? What if they're flats?

A presentation given at the Defense Intelligence Agency has just the advice for you. As reported by Whispers in February, an "informal" presentation was given to DIA employees on "How to Dress for Success." Robert Delaware at Muckrock requested the presentation via the Freedom of Information Act, and the website posted the power point presentation Tuesday.

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The presentation tells women to dress appropriate according to their personality, body types, skin, hair and eye color. (Did you know that "brunettes can wear more intense colors than blondes"?). It also advises women that a "[c]onservative approach [is] always best" and to avoid anything "flamboyant, gaudy, attention-drawing" (no statement jewelry for you, young lady.). In terms of makeup, the presentation does not "advocate the 'The Plain Jane' look" – makeup "helps women look more attractive," after all. But it reminds employees that "too much makeup distracts from a professional look" – you want "just enough to accentuate your features." The presentation also assures women that open toed shoes, as long as they're heels, are "no longer a faux-pas" (thank God!). But don't wear any stockings with them.


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Men also get some sartorial suggestions: Darker suits and pin stripes exude "authority;" "suspenders = elegance" and any neck jewelry or earrings will have a negative impact for men. Oh, and, "DON'T BE AFRAID OF COLOR!"

A memo sent to employees from DIA director Michael Flynn distancing the agency from the presentation was also sent to MuckRock with the presentation. "I apologize to the entire workforce for the unnecessary and serious distraction of this 'Dress for Success' briefing," the memo says. "I too find it highly offensive." The memo also says the agency did not condone the briefing, that "even smart people do dumb things sometimes," but that "no one is going to be taken to the wood shed over this."

In an email to U.S. News, Thomas F. Veale of DIA public affairs, stressed that DIA chief of external communication Susan Strednansky did not create the presentation, as suggested by the MuckRock posting.

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"Strednansky, our chief of external communications, engaged with media on this at the end of January," Veale wrote. "Let me repeat her words: 'It was an informal event that an employee put together, a briefing on How to Dress for Success.' The presentation was neither mandatory nor directive in nature. Participation was voluntary, and the presentation was given to a very small audience."

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