Thursday, October 7, 2010

CRACKING THE HOLIDAY DRESS CODE :: The Blissful Guide to Dress Codes for Holiday Parties and otherwise....

It is a pleasure to be in such lovely company today! Our gracious virtual hostess, Ms. Bliss from Housewife Bliss has gathered together a bevy of wonderful ladies all with the honourable responsibility of making the holidays a little easier for all of us with some fabulous tips and super suggestions. Follow our terrific Holiday Workshop every Thursday in October for all things festive, links are at the bottom for you!

With the holidays around the corner, I am sure the mailboxes and inboxes of all of us social butterflies will soon be inundated with invitations for gatherings and soirees, large and small. No sooner have I opened that invitation that has luckily found its way to me (and replied in a timely fashion of course!), I start to plan my intended outfit, always an easier task for me when a dress code is mentioned on the invitation.
Now, I know what most of you are thinking at this very moment,
"dress codes make me nervous, never sure what they really mean!!!".

No worries my friends, you are not alone. We don't run into these terms on a daily basis anymore and really, who knew that semi-formal doesn't mean a pair of khakis and clean loafers??
Since most of us will probably not be toasting the New Year with the Sultan of Brunei or celebrating Halloween with the Queen, we will leave behind all the little intricate distinctions that are probably what make our heads spin in the first place when thinking of dress codes and concentrate on the more common and modern guidelines, ones you just might find on any invitation that could be headed to you!

Formal (White Tie or Full Dress)
All diplomatic receptions, balls, galas, fundraisers, charity and debutante balls will usually fall into this category. This is where you pull out all your finery since your host is letting you know this will be one elegant affair. For the gents, white tie (required), tails and the required accoutrements (black seamed trousers, white vest, bow tie, boutonniere, hat, scarf, cuff links).
For women, floor-length ball gowns and evening dresses, evening wraps or stoles, sparkly shoes, gloves and the family jewels are best saved for these occasions. 

Semi-formal (Black Tie or Smoking)
Usually signals a pretty swanky affair but not as formal as well, Formal (see above).
Most men should wear a tuxedo but if you are without the penguin suit, a dark colored suit with all the accessories (tie, cuff links, boutonniere) is quite acceptable!
For women, once again floor length is preferred but if you are mixing and mingling with creative or artistic types, shorter but below the knee gowns or party frocks are also acceptable with accessories similar to Formal (see above).

Informal (and its close cousin, Cocktail Attire)
A little tricky due to the modern definition of the term 'informal' but this is generally the most common dress code you will find on the majority of invitations. (An episode of Mad Men and a party at the Draper's should give you more of a visual!)
For men, dressier business suits complete with necktie, lace-up shoes, and a non-button-down collar dress shirt is preferred for Informal while Cocktail attire usually consists of a blazer or a sports jacket, a collared shirt (tie optional but looks so much nicer!) and dress trousers. Footwear includes most shoes and loafers, but never sneakers or sandals.
For women, the difference between Informal and Cocktail Attire isn't as distinct as it is for men. This is where the cocktail length dress or skirt comes into play and if you are so inclined, slinky, short and sexy stilettos, accessories, jewels and hairstyles are the order of the day.

Business casual
Usually reserved for casual gatherings that involve workplace colleagues or co-workers and generally taking place shortly after work, not allowing for time to run home and change. Business Casual is the most fluid of dress codes, with specifics differing greatly depending on where you live and what type of business you are in.
For men, most codes require that a collared shirt with or without a tie be worn, but often a polo shirt qualifies, with or without a sportier blazer. Dress pants or cotton khakis are acceptable, but jeans are usually left off of the repertoire. Loafers and most casual shoes are acceptable, but continue to stay away from sneakers and sandals.
For women, skirts paired with festive twin sets, dressier/tailored pant or skirt suits or sheath dresses fit the bill. Festive accessories are the best way to up the dressy quotient in this category

Leisure attire
Really should never be an option for a holiday party unless it is being held in your friend's basement and you are nineteen but if we must, jeans, khakis or anything that you would wear on the weekend are acceptable. If you would do the laundry or sleep in it, pass on the garment. Make sure it is clean (but of course!) and in pristine condition, nothing ripped or tattered with holes (unless you paid good money for that look)!

Don't forget to visit all the ladies participating in the Blissful Holiday Workshop today and each Thursday in October!

Mindy Lockard Tips for Holiday Tipping
Pemberley Collections The front door: Make a statement
The Entertaining House A surprise awaits you
Lily Lemontree Cracking the Code: The Blissful Guide to Dress Codes for Holiday Parties and otherwise....
The Savvy Host Ever-prepared for what may come in the "gift-giving" season
Ab home Interiors Holiday Survival Guide- 5 tips for effortless decorating
Tatertots and Jello Creating inexpensive and beautiful feminine gifts
Lucky Life Parties Invitations
The Daily Basics Plan Ahead Hand-Made Gifts
Housewife Bliss Planning the perfect gathering


Housewife Bliss said...

Love this post! I learned a new term today 'full dress', always a source of fabulous style inspiration my darling.

Kristin said...

I will forever drool over the First Lady's gown. SUCH a gorgeous look...and the necklace...I die!

Jen @ said...

I have always wondered what some of those terms mean. I wish I loved getting dressed up, I am more of a casual attire person. Although if I had access to those clothes I might change my mind!


Suburban Princess said...

Fortunately I never have this problem as no one I know ever invites anyone to their house! So no parties around here :O(

Bethany said...

Love it! I just found out that a wedding I'm attending in Mexico in less than a month is black tie...except that I thought it was cocktail and I had a cute dress and complete ensemble ready to go. It's back to square one, but I don't mind dress shopping! ;)

EntertainingMom said...

Fabulous post! I need to go shopping... Oh dear what do I wear to meet with a team at a large PR firm in NYC tomorrow for a freelance writing assignment? Business Casual?

The Hip Hostess said...

Really got caught up in this post, learned so much here. You are so right about receiving an invitation and your first thought is what to wear! Although I don't think I have to worry about any formal invitations requiring ball gown & black tie,coming my way anytime soon. Great read, thanks.

Pemberley said...

These are great reminders. However, I get invites where the host/hostess make up their own code words such as 'festive' or 'dressy casual' or better yet 'holiday' does that mean come as Santa??

the savvy host said...

Completely depend on the semi-formal AND the business attire categories...always forget there are so many other options! Wonderful visuals - helpful reminders!! THANK YOU!