John McCaslin

"Washington, D.C., as the nation's capital city and the official seat of the federal government follows a very strict social protocol with regard to proper dress at events, and to attend and not be in the appropriate uniform or formal social attire can easily be perceived as a sign of disrespect towards the hosts of the event, as well as an embarrassing moment for yourself," reads a memo issued last Friday by retired Rear Adm. Jim Carey, senior wardroom mentor, to the military stationed here.

To make matters more confusing, the retired admiral notes there are those occasions when military uniforms might not be appropriate "and if so what is considered appropriate equivalent civilian attire?"

So he attached what he called this "handy-dandy one-pager" for civilian dress:

"Washington, D.C., Specific Attire:

"Civilian Informal: Business Suit for gentlemen; Dress or Suit for ladies.

"Civilian Casual: Sports Coat & Open Collar for gentlemen; Dress, Pantsuit or Suit for ladies.

"Smart Casual: Open Collar with Sports Coat or Jacket for gentlemen; Dress, Pantsuit or Suit for ladies."

The meaning of 'Is'

"I brought Belfast the peace they desire
And in Bosnia dodged sniper fire!
I'm impossibly grand
And cannot understand
Why I'm called an incorrigible liar!"
— F.R. Duplantier

John McCaslin

John McCaslin is a contributing columnist on and author of Inside The Beltway: Offbeat Stories, Scoops, and Shenanigans from around the Nation's Capital .

Be the first to read John McCaslin's column. Sign up today and receive delivered each morning to your inbox.