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Work Holiday Party - Cocktail Attire

post #1 of 18
Thread Starter 

My work holiday party is at a large Chicago museum, on a Saturday night. The invitation calls for cocktail attire.

 

I have 3 options

 

1. Charcoal suit.

2. Navy suit - it has plaid, but from 5ft+ feet away it looks like solid navy. The pattern is all the same color. If anyone is familiar, it is one of the BB Suiting Essentials fabrics.

3. Navy blazer with pewter buttons + whatever pants.

 

None of these scream "get drunk at the museum with a bunch of accountants" but what would be my best options? Tie/pocket square/shirt are open to suggestions. Is a v-neck sweater an appropriate addition?

post #2 of 18
Cocktail Attire is a tuxedo.

Failing that a slim black suit with a white shirt and black bow tie would suffice (suffice being the most generous term, many would consider it flat-out incorrect).

Given the items you have listed and assuming that you have neither the funds nor the time to buy a tux, I would say the navy suit (dark blue often looks almost black in evening light) with a white shirt and a black tie (not bow-tie). Not correct, but at least it is a combination that you can shrug off as fashionable, pointing to the numerous GQ articles that suggest it.
post #3 of 18
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Blackhood View Post

Cocktail Attire is a tuxedo.

Failing that a slim black suit with a white shirt and black bow tie would suffice (suffice being the most generous term, many would consider it flat-out incorrect).

Given the items you have listed and assuming that you have neither the funds nor the time to buy a tux, I would say the navy suit (dark blue often looks almost black in evening light) with a white shirt and a black tie (not bow-tie). Not correct, but at least it is a combination that you can shrug off as fashionable, pointing to the numerous GQ articles that suggest it.


I appreciate the response, but I think I'd be grossly out of place if I wore a tux. From my quick search, it seems cocktail attire is supposed to be more on the casual side.

post #4 of 18
These days cocktail attire no longer means a tux. Solid navy would be better than solid charcoal, but solid anything is better than patterned for evening IMHO. So I'd pick charcoal suit, white shirt, white PS, solid black tie.
post #5 of 18
Quote:
Originally Posted by Blackhood View Post

Cocktail Attire is a tuxedo.
 

 

Cocktail Attire is a recent invention that is totally ambiguous, hence the issue at hand.  The one thing it is not, however, is a Tuxedo.  If that is what you were supposed to wear, the dress code would be some iteration of Black Tie - most likely Black Tie Optional, or Preferred.

 

Plaid navy could be seen as festive, so it might be ok for a holiday party.  Of your options, charcoal gets my vote.  I do not know about a v-neck sweater.  Do people tend to dress thematically?  If so, perhaps a red or green v-neck is a good addition, and some red, green, and white plaid or argyle socks.  Or, hey, it's a Christmas party, some socks with reindeer on them are ok. Aaaaaand... commence the hate speech at my suggestion of cutesy socks :P

post #6 of 18
Quote:
Originally Posted by Blackhood View Post

Failing (a Tuxedo) a slim black suit with a white shirt and black bow tie would suffice (suffice being the most generous term, many would consider it flat-out incorrect).

 

A bit off topic, so I won't go at this debate past this one post, but tarting up a black suit with a black bow tie is much worse than simply wearing a suit (black being a perfectly acceptable choice, in the context of a Black Tie Preferred/Optional/Requested dress code).  Wearing a well tailored black or dark suit with a four in hand tie says "I do not own a Tuxedo, and do not care/cannot afford to buy or rent one, but I have tried to look very nice, and dress appropriately."  Wearing a black suit and black bow tie says "I do not particularly understand what a Tuxedo is, or why my black suit is not one."

post #7 of 18
Quote:
Originally Posted by Blackhood View Post

Cocktail Attire is a tuxedo.
That's not the commonly accepted meaning of the term, at least in the United States, circa 2013. (Since Chicago was specified, going by American usage is appropriate. But perhaps the meaning is different in the UK, where you appear to be.) "Black Tie" would be the dress code indicating tuxedo.

Here, cocktail attire means men should wear suits, and women should wear cocktail dresses, with minor variations on these norms generally acceptable.

Hetzen, I'd suggest you wear the navy or charcoal suit, with the blazer being very much the third place choice (and "whatever pants" should not mean denim).

If you want to wear a v-neck sweater under your jacket, okay. A v-neck sweater vest might leave you more comfortable, as a full sweater, underneath a jacket, worn indoors, might result in you feeling a little warm, but that's for you to decide. Personally, I'd much prefer a "vest" vest, to a sweater or sweater vest, but whatever.

I will not address the choice of tie/pocket square/shirt, as there are just too many acceptable possibilities. Once you decide on your suit, shirt, tie, etc., feel free to post a picture of you wearing them, and ask for comment.

Obviously, make sure your shoes are appropriate and shined.

And for dog's sake, try not to over-think the whole thing. It's a Christmas party. It's not a command appearance before our rather touchy Alien Overlords, aboard their Imperial Space Cruiser. Show up dressed in basically appropriate fashion, enjoy yourself socializing with your friends, acquaintances, and colleagues. Don't get drunk and don't say or do anything which could come back to haunt you once the party is but a memory. It truly needn't be any more complicated than that.
post #8 of 18
In a Chicago Museum on a Saturday night you can wear any of the options you listed. Wear what you feel most comfortable in - that tends to come through more than forcing something to conform with what you think you should wear.

I agree with the tuxedo comments. Don't try to fake it.
post #9 of 18
Certainly not evening dress in 2013.

Solid blue suit probably but I can envisage the blazer being OK at some
gatherings.
post #10 of 18
Ok, so standards in Chicago are lower than I expected. I was at a "cocktail" party at a college on Monday and not one person wore a lounge suit. Tuxes all round, with several shawl lapel versions.
post #11 of 18
Quote:
Originally Posted by Blackhood View Post

Ok, so standards in Chicago are lower than I expected. I was at a "cocktail" party at a college on Monday and not one person wore a lounge suit. Tuxes all round, with several shawl lapel versions.

 

"Cocktail Attire" is a dress code in the US - it is printed on invitations the same way that "White Tie," "Morning Dress," or "Lounge Suit" would be.  "Lounge Suit" as a dress code, does not exist in the US, but does not really have an equivalent.  Between "Black Tie," and "Business Casual" there is a set of relatively vague set of terms that are not nearly as useful as the dress codes commonly used in Europe.

post #12 of 18
To me it means clothes that are classy, but in the best of worlds would not be work clothes (this captures the spirit of the tux thing). So your dark suit, but with a dark satin tie, for instance. No pinstripes or plaids. A little bit more "sharp," a little less "professional." I'll admit all this is sort of vague and no one is going to think you're dressed inappropriately if you come in a pinstripe suit, but that's how I think of it.
post #13 of 18
Quote:
Originally Posted by Blackhood View Post

Ok, so standards in Chicago are lower than I expected.
This has nothing to do with standards. It has to do with terminology. A party where male guests are expected to wear tuxedos will specify "Black Tie," and not "cocktail attire." Parties of both such types may be found in Chicago, I assure you.

Your confusion with regard to current usage, should not be taken as an example of a lowering of standards in Chicago. (There are many other indications of a lowering of standards both in Chicago specifically, and in the western world, generally. Focus on one of them, instead.)

"When I use a word," Humpty Dumpty said, in rather a scornful tone, "it means just what I choose it to mean -- neither more nor less."
--
Michael
post #14 of 18
Thread Starter 

Thanks for the advice guys.

 

The plaid navy suit isn't all that plaid. I'm out of town, otherwise I would post a picture. I'll probably go with that suit since I like the fit of it more then the charcoal one.

 

If I'm feeling festive, I might switch out the white PS for something different.

post #15 of 18
Here in the U.S. cocktail attire will see most of the men wearing dark suits, not tuxedos. Go with the charcoal.
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