City Social Magazine

JAN-FEB 2016

City Social Magazine in Baton Rouge, Louisiana

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32 r e a d u s o n l i n e a t w w w . c i t y s o c i a l . c o m 32 By Mandy Bradley The Ever-So-Confusing World of Fashion can someone Please explain invitation dress codes? as the holiday, party and gala season creeps up on us, we are keenly aware of the pressure that it will bring. what shall we wear? most invita- tions will give us a clue as to what the host expects us to wear, but with- out a full understanding of what those dress codes mean, it can be quite frustrating. what does "dress to impress," "cozy festive," "Bohemian black tie," "dark and chic" or "funky cocktail" mean? several years ago, i addressed this exact issue, and in the past six years, we've seen the dawn of even more confusing dress code names to decipher. Over the last few decades, the rules of fashion and social dress codes have been distorted and rewritten. The rules, to be sure, are much less rigid, but at the same time more confusing because they are not as specific as they once were. Most rules are subject to your own personal interpretations of these styles of dress. It is great to have your own interpretation, but you still want to use your best manners and follow the requested dress code. Remember that if you are the host, it is your responsibility to make sure that your guests know what is expected, whether it is written or not. If you request a "creative" dress code, be prepared to receive many calls or questions from your confused guests. It is your job as host to make your guests feel comfortable. Since dressing well and appropriately are a form of good manners, the attendees want to have all of the information that they need. Let's begin with the basics. The basics of traditional dress codes are casual, professional, cocktail, formal and white tie. There are two levels of casual. The first level, basic, includes barbecue attire, jeans and shorts. A level above that but still casual is standard, which is garden party, brunch or tea attire, such as twin sets and shirts with skirts. Professional almost always means suits and ties for men and pantsuits or skirt suits for women. This dress code usually requires tailored clothing. Cocktail has been used to mean darker suits for men and shorter elegant dresses for women. Formal is somewhere between cocktail and white tie. This type of dress usually means about the same as black tie but can also encompass cocktail including long dresses or dressy separates for women and tuxedos for men. White tie, of course, means ultra-formal, as in long gowns for women and tuxedos for men. Common sense goes a long way when deciding what to wear. There are several factors that you should always consider when deciding what to wear: the type of event, the location, the time of year, the time of day, who the hosts are and who the potential guests are. What type of event is it? Is it a barbecue, a themed couple's shower or is it a formal event or ball? What time of year is it? Is the weather cool or Louisiana summer hot? Do you think that the event will be inside or outside (a critical factor in southern Louisiana). Hosts should make an effort to let their guests know whether or not the party will be held outside so that they may dress, fix hair and apply makeup accordingly. What is the location and what time of day is it? Is it on the beach, in a hotel ballroom, at a swanky bar or in a comfortable home? The time of day matters greatly as far as dress is concerned. A brunch or afternoon tea requires completely different attire than cocktail hour. Who are the hosts? Are they laid-back folks or very formal and elegant? If you know the hosts well, you'll be able to assume what they will expect. Who are potential guests? We can sometimes guess who will be at a party and that can clue us in to whether or not guests will be dressier or more casual. We all have sets of friends who are more likely to dress up than others. So what about all of these more recent "creative" dress codes? I'm sure that a host or hostess somewhere thinks that he or she is being cute and creative when using these, but for most people, it only adds to the lingering confusion of what to wear. Below are a few of the many different dress codes that you may hear of and what they entail. Festive attire is more experimental and less conservative. We see this at holiday time. This falls under the semi-formal category. If you are prone to wear neutrals and simple lines, perhaps you may want to add something with color or frill (perhaps just one showy item, like a top offset with simple black pants). It could be as effortless as adding accessories like big earrings, an interesting clutch or showing a little shoulder. If there is a theme, perhaps incorporate that. This is also called holiday chic, cozy festive, fiesta fashion or holiday garb. Cocktail attire is usually associated with a little black dress. The general understanding of "cocktail" is a shorter, elegant dress for ladies and a darker suit for men. Today, cocktail attire truly depends on what type of people you will be circulating with. It is a more professional, conservative crowd or a more urban and artsy crowd? This will make a huge difference in how your can interpret cocktail attire and what you'll feel most comfortable in. A perfect look for cocktail is a simple but sexy dress that can be modified by adding or changing accessories. A little black dress with an atypical neckline or hemline can add a bit of interest to

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