So just got a new job, as the director of a medium-sized public library. I've been a librarian and/or library middle manager for a decade, and feel like I've always been a good-but-not-great dresser in those roles. But making the leap to dressing like a library director feels daunting.
To complicate matters, most of the library directors I know are either women or not the kind of guys I'd turn to for sartorial advice. Meanwhile, the guys I would usually ask for fashion tips may not really understand the work environment very well. Local government in general, and public libraries in particular can be a weird place to dress; typically, dudes have to wear a tie, but it tends to be an otherwise pretty casual-dress environment.
Currently, I wear nicer flat-front cotton chinos (usually navy, gray, or dark khaki), a button-down oxford shirt (white or blue, maybe with a stripe or tattersall check), a tie, and maybe a sweater when the weather's nasty. This is, as nearly as I can tell, somewhere between completely normal
and unusually well-dressed
among male non-administrators at the various public libraries in which I have worked.
That uniform doesn't seem adequate for my new gig, but wearing a suit every day seems like overkill.
Where's the right middle ground here? Am I just wrong about suits maybe being overkill? Is it a faux pas to wear a blazer with cotton chinos instead of dress pants?
I feel reasonably confident that:
- I'll need to move from button-down shirts to dress shirts, in preparation for needing to wear a jacket at least some of the time
- I'll need even more ties
- I'll need nicer shoes, and I should probably take up polishing them
Everything else feels like alchemy. What's a fella to do? Please hope me!