How do I dress it down a medium grey slim suit at a business cocktail party without looking like "that guy" who tries too hard to look casual/dressy and ends up doing neither? - Page 2
I am attending a professional conference next week and the first event is a "welcome" cocktail party at 9 p.m., On the guest list are several clients and dignitaries. I am wearing a slim fit medium grey suit and want to use it on the first night.
What should I wear as a shirt/tie combination? Should I even wear a tie? I am thinking of an Armani black dress shirt under the medium grey suit, no tie. Salesman at Louis Vuitton says I should wear a lavender dress shirt under the medium grey suit, unbuttoned, no tie. Wifey says stick with white shirt, burgandy tie, black monks.
I want to stay dressed in a suit, but don't want to look like "that guy" at business conferences who tries too hard to look "casual" in a business suit, but ends up looking like well, an uptight guy in a business suit no matter how many shirt buttons are unbuttoned, or what kind of pastel shirt he wears under his suit jacket.
Thank you for your opinions and sincere advice.
I think this totally depends on what type of business you are in?
If it's a fashion friendly type of work, I would vote for no tie.
If conservative, shirt and tie, although I'm not sure about wearing a white shirt to an evening cocktail party as it might look too office-like.
The DOJ people will be dressed well but extremely conservatively. Their suits will be good quality, boring, and a few years old. Government lawyers dress more quietly than private criminal defense or plaintiff's personal injury lawyers, who are notorious for loud suits, ties, big cuff links and the like. They dress so that people will see that they dress well but so that no one notices their clothes other than that. They do not want their clothes to take any attention away from what they say - they want people to remember them, not their clothes. And they know that anything the least fashion forward might offend someone, so they dress to not offend anyone. That means nice but boring. And since they're government employees, they don't buy new suits every year just to keep up with fashion. So even the dignitaries are likely to have lapels and lengths that are last Year's style.
So this brings us to what you want to wear. You need to fit in with a bunch of legal types, high level government/political types, and academics. You want to wear the same suit for the conference and the reception.
Just wear your suit with a white shirt with a blue pattern on it and no tie. I have two shirts I rotate just for such occasions. I usually wear my grey Hickey Freeman suit (probably the best quality suit I own) with a nice patterned shirt that would be nice enough to have a tie with, but which is nice business casual without a tie.
If you want to cover all bases, do what I do. I have a black belt that's a little less formal than usual. I wear that, my patterned white shirt, grey suit and regular tie. I walk around the perimeter of the party before joining in and assess the situation. It will be obvious whether you need to dress up or down. If up, dive into the party with the tie on. If down, pop back into the hallway and take off the tie. Tuck it into your inside breast pocket and no one will see it. If no one else has a jacket on and it's really informal, take your coat off and park it on the back of a chair.
There you have it. Start out with everything and undress as appropriate. But stop at ditching your jacket and tie; it is the opening night of the conference after all.
Good luck and let us know how it goes. But do not under any circumstances wear a black shirt to any part of the conference.
I personally think that the black under gray may have looked nice, but not at an official event. Now that would probably have put you over the top. I think there's a limit to standing out yet still being a part of the crowd, and just standing out. Black shirt under grey would have been the latter, and that's what you may have been referring to.
If you do show up, and notice a majority are without tie, simply go to the bathroom, remove the tie, and place it in your coat (or wife's purse), or at the front desk for keeping if all else fails. You'd have to do this quickly enough so people don't notice you came with a tie, or that would look just as bad.