Couturity Breach: CIA Chic Is Always in Style

May 31, 2011

At 0700 hours, you’re due at a secure compound in Bofunk, Va., where you’ll be interviewed for a covert government job that doesn’t exist. And even the whizzes behind the CIA World Factbook can’t help when you wonder, “What should I wear to impress my would-be boss at the [enter three-letter acronym here]?”

The answer seems obvious: a tailored black suit. But even though you have to blend in with the bureaucracy, close attention to detail — which is part of the job, right? — can help you best competitors for that position you’ll never have (wink).

So steam your suit, clean your nails and choose accessories that could spark jaw-dropping stories. If an interviewer compliments your watch, you can say, “It’s also a compass. I use it for all my search-and-rescue missions.” Ladies, if you’re excellent in Arabic, wear a scarf you bartered for at a souk in Tunisia. “Oh, this old thing? It’s so pre-Arab Spring.”

As we know from Jason Bourne and Evelyn Salt, above, clothes and wigs are crucial to blending in when on assignment. Hint that you’re comfortable in disguises and remember to dress comfortably (no wool!) for that sweat-inducing polygraph.

Photo courtesy Columbia Pictures

Katherine Boyle reports on arts, museums and culture for the Style section.
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