The Budget Babe | Affordable Fashion & Style Blog

Ask BB: What to Wear to an FBI Graduation Ceremony

Business casual outfit ideas

I've never been to Washington D.C. and have no idea what the weather will be like towards the end of March, so packing ideas would be appreciated. On top of it I will be attending an FBI graduation ceremony and have NO idea what is appropriate and stylish. I was thinking long dress? Am I waaay off? —JS

March weather in D.C. can be unpredictable (if you live there, please feel free to chime in) so you'll want to dress in layers. Temperatures might climb into the 50s but you need to prepare for high 30s, too. I'd pack some sweaters and a trench coat, dark jeans and comfortable flats as well as boots that you won't mind getting wet.

For outfit ideas and inspiration, you might also want to check out some D.C. fashion bloggers. I recommend Wardrobe Oxygen and High Fashion 4 Less, two ladies who know how to look amazing on a budget.

As for the FBI graduation ceremony, I have never been to such an affair so I put my feelers out on Twitter and my savvy readers tell me the dress code is "business dress." This roughly translates to a pants suit or a dress and blazer. I think as a guest you can have fun with color, prints and accessories so long as the cuts are conservative (think sheath dresses, pencil skirts and such).

What advice would you give JS? Let her know in the comments!

{Shown above: Some sample looks created using H&M's virtual dressing room, ranging from casual (for sightseeing) to a business-casual graduation ceremony.}

I agree with wearing layers for the fluky DC weather. For example, it was in the mid-30's yesterday and today it's supposed to be 60 degrees. We've had snow in April. It's that weird.

Business dress is also smart for the graduation ceremony. Keep it classic.
#1 SamW on 2013-02-27 09:15 (Reply)
I grew up in DC. March weather can be totally unpredictable, unfortunately, though the average in late March is highs in the 50s and lows in the upper 30s.

For the graduation ceremony, definitely go for business attire, rather than business casual. And as BB said, colors and prints are acceptable as long as the cuts are conservative.

For sightseeing, you can rock pretty much any style you like! But I would suggest sturdy footwear (comfortable flats or boots or cute sneakers) -- the Mall has dirt paths that can get muddy, and many museums have marble stairs that are hazardous without grippy soles.
#2 Nikki F. on 2013-02-27 09:31 (Reply)
We tend to be pretty conservative in our fashion choices here in DC so keep that in mind for your outfit for the graduation. I'd go with a pencil skirt with a shell (or a dress) with a blazer over it. I'd recommend a more structured, professional blazer. I tend to use accessories like earrings, statement necklaces or scarves to make outfits more interesting. Feel free to be as bold as you like for sightseeing or other activities! The trench coat or other lightweight coat is a great recommendation. You might want to go with something that is less cumbersome for sightseeing as you'll be popping in and out of museums and will want to take it on and off.
#3 ml on 2013-02-27 10:34 (Reply)
I'm glad to have found your blog via Instagram....your style recomms here are so helpful. I will always love mixing fun prints & patterns on polished looks like all the above!!

#4 Red Tag Chic Los Angeles (Homepage) on 2013-02-27 10:39 (Reply)
I have been to this graduation. You will see people dressed in all sorts of outfits. I would opt for conservative, something you would wear to an office or for church. There are pictures at the end for the graduates and their families with a representative from high up. Granted, the ceremony is more for the graduates than the family, but that's no reason to look underdressed. All the graduates will be in dark suits with white shirts.
#5 C on 2013-02-27 17:17 (Reply)
Thank you so much for the mention! For such an event, I agree with your assessment - I'd likely wear a work-friendly dress (wrap style, sheath with sleeves, something to the knee) with closed-toe pumps, though most any color or print is acceptable.

As for sight-seeing, others mentioned our wacky weather and I would agree. Layers, a waterproof windproof coat, comfortable slight wedge or flat shoes. I usually end up in narrow jeans tucked into tall boots, a knit top with a cardigan or lightweight jacket, a trench over it, and a scarf or pashmina looped at the throat. A crossbody bag will be chic but still keep your arms free for a hot dog or to carry purchases. Have a blast in our fab city!
#6 Alison (Homepage) on 2013-02-28 12:52 (Reply)
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