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Dinner party attire

post #1 of 33
Thread Starter 
This weekend past, I attended a birthday party for my cousin. She is a lawyer, and I was mailed a nice invitation to the affair, which was arranged by her firm. The host, her law partner, had the invitations read that dress was "informal, but dressy;" we were to have a 5-course meal in a separate dining room of a 4-star restaurant. I knew there were going to be about 70 people in attendance, only about 8 of which I would know (i.e., non-family). The age range was 25 (my age) all the way to the host's parents, who were most likely in their mid-Seventies.

Even if the invite had said otherwise, I knew the restaurant we were to attend, and I was not going to dress below the threshold for the establishment. That wasn't a problem, however, based on the invitation. I wore a double-breasted taupe suit, light orange broadcloth buttondown collar dress shirt, orange/black paisley tie, black silk pocketsquare, and A&E cordovan oxfod plain-toes. It sounds a little odd, but it looked pretty good.

I was one of the first to arrive. As people started piling in, I started to look around. Eighty-five percent of the people wore jeans, more than half of whom wore [I guess] nice tee shirts (they thought, at least) -- the other half wearing untucked buttondowns, only a fraction of which were actual dress-shirts. The remaining 15% showed men in chinos or dark trousers and a buttoned dress-shirt (top 3 buttons undone) and women in business-casual attire and 1 or 2 dresses.

The most dressed (excluding myself) was the host's father who wore dark navy slacks, royal blue blazer (probably from JC Penny), and a 85% polyester/15%cotton blend grey button-down -- opened two buttons at the top. The only reason I mention the cheapness of the clothes is because I know these people make upwards of $500k a year.

The host, the one who specified "Informal but dressy" was dressed exactly like this guy (apologies to whoever this is in the picture; I had to find someone random who was dressed this way).

I did not see one suit, one necktie, one bowtie, tie pin, sport coat or odd suit jacket of any kind -- with exception to the host's father who had the blazer. I'm sorry if this is a common type of post around here, but I was just so appalled, I had to vent to a group of people who could understand. I did not feel out of place, I felt like they all were (I guess one could argue this is snobbish, but I just saw no reason for me to be ashamed for dressing properly).

I don't know what kind of response I am looking for here, I guess I just thought I'd reaffirm what we all already know about the decline of proper dress.
post #2 of 33
Quote:
Originally Posted by lordofpi View Post
I was one of the first to arrive. As people started piling in, I started to look around. Eighty-five percent of the people wore jeans, more than half of whom wore [I guess] nice tee shirts (they thought, at least) -- the other half wearing untucked buttondowns, only a fraction of which were actual dress-shirts. The remaining 15% showed men in chinos or dark trousers and a buttoned dress-shirt (top 3 buttons undone) and women in business-casual attire and 1 or 2 dresses.

How disappointing. But I am not one bit surprised.
post #3 of 33
Based on the "informal, but dressy" I probably would have worn dark jeans, tucked-in dress shirt and suit jacket.
post #4 of 33
We feel your pain. Sometimes, for wearing a slim suit I get mocked walking down the street by people in tattoos. Don't let it deter you from sartorial excellence.

Though I must say that your outfit's description sounds like something a 40 something lawyer would wear.
post #5 of 33
And how did this affect you enjoying the meal and celebrating your cousin's birthday?

You're the guy that was excited that a close family member was on their deathbed so that they could comission a stroller for the funeral...right?
post #6 of 33
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by SoCal2NYC View Post
And how did this affect you enjoying the meal and celebrating your cousin's birthday?

You're the guy that was excited that a close family member was on their deathbed so that they could comission a stroller for the funeral...right?

Yes, that's me -- just champing at the bit for death to arrive so I can show off a pair of chalk-striped pants to all those people who will be there just to admire them.

Anyhow, no need to repeat myself. The affair was very nice. My cousin was extremely happy, the food was delightful, and I was able to meet a lot of nice new people. I don't see how that was relevent to the thread, but if it puts the Ethics Police around here at bay, so be it.
post #7 of 33
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jodum5 View Post
Based on the "informal, but dressy" I probably would have worn dark jeans, tucked-in dress shirt and suit jacket.

Interesting. For me - and I would think this side of the Atlantic - 'informal' means 'less formal' or 'not formal' (e.g without a tie) rather than 'without any regard to formality'. I wouldn't wear jeans to anything with a dress specification (unless it said 'jeans'). Jeans are, as it were, 'undress'. I don't know what 'dressy' means.
post #8 of 33
You wore a double breasted suit? I agree with those above, in that "informal" means you don't wear a suit. Maybe jeans & a sport coat. Also, why are you so freaked out by the number of buttons people had undone? Once you lose the tie, I don't see the problem. I don't see what their incomes have to do with anything either, except in that once you're making a lot of money you might not feel the need to impress anyone. Furthermore, if you see suits as "work clothes" (going to court) and not just an opportunity to play dress up, you might not be inclined to put one on on the weekend.
post #9 of 33
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Wrenkin View Post
You wore a double breasted suit? I agree with those above, in that "informal" means you don't wear a suit. Maybe jeans & a sport coat. Also, why are you so freaked out by the number of buttons people had undone? Once you lose the tie, I don't see the problem.

Well, that was not ever my interpretation of the term, but it seems that is what most people, even here, tend to think. Nonetheless, I felt the very scale of the restaurant where it was held would have added something of a minimum parameter to the style of dress. Number of buttons undone just adds to show how non-formal it was; generally business-casual would call for the top button undone. This was much more relaxed; that's all I meant about that.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Wrenkin View Post
I don't see what their incomes have to do with anything either, except in that once you're making a lot of money you might not feel the need to impress anyone. Furthermore, if you see suits as "work clothes" (going to court) and not just an opportunity to play dress up, you might not be inclined to put one on on the weekend.

The matter of income was only brought up because, to me, it would be relevent if it was severely lacking; I can understand that some people cannot afford a complete wardrobe of dress clothing, and I would be much less surprised. You could be on to something about the work clothes, though. Any opportunity to disrobe the barrister's cloth may have been very welcome to them; I can't speak for that.
post #10 of 33
Bill Gates dresses like shit.
post #11 of 33
You should've doused yourself in the face with an ice cold martini to bring yourself out of your vertigo, backed up out of your chair, grabbed a flambe spit from a passing food cart and hurled it at that polyester blazer...no pun intended.
post #12 of 33
Quote:
Originally Posted by SoCal2NYC View Post
Bill Gates dresses like shit.

Now why do you want to trash talk my buddy Bill? I think he looks pretty darn good.

post #13 of 33
Quote:
Originally Posted by Percy Trimmer View Post
Interesting. For me - and I would think this side of the Atlantic - 'informal' means 'less formal' or 'not formal' (e.g without a tie) rather than 'without any regard to formality'. I wouldn't wear jeans to anything with a dress specification (unless it said 'jeans'). Jeans are, as it were, 'undress'. I don't know what 'dressy' means.

Where I'm from (Los Angeles), "informal" means shirt and shoes are optional.
post #14 of 33
Quote:
Originally Posted by lordofpi View Post
The most dressed (excluding myself) was the host's father who wore dark navy slacks, royal blue blazer (probably from JC Penny), and a 85% polyester/15%cotton blend grey button-down-- opened two buttons at the top..

Did you ask him about his shirt fabric? If you didn't, how the heck are you able to identify its precise composition?
post #15 of 33
"Informal" implies to me no tie, or at the very least no pocket square, no cuff links and no "serious" business dress shoes or suits (I am sure the assumption of what "serious" means varies from person to person). "Dressy" implies to me no sneakers, no t-shirts (or at the least a t-shirt under a dress shirt), and no distressed or light colored jeans (and preferrably no jeans). In your position I probably would have worn a sports coat with a dress shirt and a pair of simple slacks and stored a tie in a pocket just in case. At the end of the day though, you knew the restaurant you were going to, so I guess you had certain expectations that influenced what you wore. I understand where you're coming from, but at the same time you have to understand that dressy is a nebulous term that rarely actually means dress, and informal is pretty much a word that guarantees you seeing people in jeans.
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