Decoding The Dress Code

No, this is not another wedding gown post…

Our invitations were sent out last Monday. Our guests have almost all received them, and right on schedule, All The Questions have begun. Which I totally expected. Honestly, I welcome them. I’d much rather have a question asked than a guest confused. Which leads us to the most popular query thus far: “What does “black tie optional” mean?”

This is my fault, because I put it on our invitation.

personal photo

personal photo

Let’s discuss.

Black Tie Optional. It’s not White Tie (thats WAY formal), it’s not Black Tie (also more formal), but it’s not Semi-Formal (that’s like, Prom), and it’s certainly not Casual. It’s somewhere in the middle.

Here’s what Google says:

screen shot from Google

screen shot from Google

And here’s what Frank Sinatra has to say:

frank tuxHere’s the full scoop on the timeless Sinatra’s style: “For me, a tuxedo is a way of life. When an invitation says black tie optional, it is always safer to wear black tie. My basic rules are to have shirt cuffs extended half an inch from the jacket sleeve. Trousers should break just above the shoe. Try not to sit down because it wrinkles the pants. If you have to sit, don`t cross your legs. Pocket handkerchiefs are optional, but I always wear one, usually orange, since orange is my favorite color. Shine your Mary Janes on the underside of a couch cushion.” -Frank Sinatra 

You can find all “The Rules of Sinatra Style” here. It’s awesome. Who are we to argue with Frank Sinatra? For a more comprehensive (less Rat Pack based) list of guidelines, read this.

And for women?

Black tie optional means you can either wear a floor length gown, or a cocktail dress. You can never go wrong with a little black dress. Never Ever.

So, basically, THIS:

Sleeveless Illusion Neckline Long Chiffon Dress by Davids Bridal

Sleeveless Illusion Neckline Long Chiffon Dress by Davids Bridal

Or, THIS:

Sleeveless Lace and Peplum Jersey Dress

Sleeveless Lace and Peplum Jersey Dress by David’s Bridal

But, please no, NOT this. No mini-skirts, please. We’re not going to the club.

Just, no. You can buy this one here.

Just, no. You can buy this one here.

Please no jeans, sweatpants, yoga pants, sneakers, shorts, baseball caps, tee shirts or flip-flops. And I’ll go one step further and say this: Also, nothing made out of sweat shirt or yoga pant material. A few years ago, Bob the Builder and I attended a gorgeous cliff side wedding in Malibu. I had on a gown, B the B had a dark suit. We were totally surprised to see a guest in an outfit similar to this:

Hugo Boss Sweatsuit

Hugo Boss Sweatsuit

Oh, I’m sorry. Did you have to interrupt your nap time to attend this elegant Malibu wedding? Now, seriously. This is a Hugo Boss sweat suit. It costs over $200. IT DOESN’T MATTER. It’s still a sweat suit. Just because the word suit is in there doesn’t make it right.

Credit: Fanpop

Credit: Fanpop

I’ve been reading a lot of wedding message board forums (as you do when you’re wedding planning), and there seems to be a bit of a backlash against suggesting a dress code. Frankly, I find this ridiculous. It’s not like saying, “You can’t come to my party unless you are wearing a fuchsia velvet overcoat!” It’s merely a guideline. As a guest, I love knowing what is expected of me. Also, I like dressing up. Really, how often do we get to really dress up and be fabulous these days? Not enough! I spend most of my days in yoga pants! Please, GIVE me a reason to bust out the red satin heels, please!!

Photo Credit: Luxury Ladies Shoes

Photo Credit: Luxury Ladies Shoes

Shoes like these were meant to LIVE! To see the world! To go to fancy parties!

So, in short.

Men: Wear a tux or dark suit and tie. With real grown up shoes, and dark socks. Do a little manscaping, a bit of grooming. Wear your nice watch. Maybe some cologne. Pretend your Don Draper. All the ladies will swoon.

Credit: OregonLive

Credit: OregonLive

Look at these handsome devils.

Ladies: Wear a gown, or a dress. Rock a sexy pair of heels. A little night-time makeup. Maybe an up-do. I like to call on my old dear friend, Spanx, for these occasions. Wear your nice jewelry (or sassy costume jewelry, no one will notice or care). Switch out your everyday purse for one with little glitter. Make yourself feel fabulous. Walk around like you own the place. Channel Joan Harris. Work it.

Credit: Telegraph

Credit: Telegraph

Dressing appropriately for the occasion does not need to break the bank. Dressing well is not just for the upper crust. That’s why Nordstrom Rack, Marshall’s and Goodwill exist. With a little planning, you can feel great in an outfit that doesn’t force you to eat ramen noodles for a month. A little effort goes a long way, peeps.

And if you’re still not convinced about this whole dress code thing, I’ll leave you with this bit of wisdom.

Credit: Dressing Well

Credit: Dressing Well

Dressing well shows that you have respect for yourself, the event, the hosts, and the occasion. Don’t be the guy that shows up in a Hawaiian shirt and says, “But it said optional!”

No one wants to sit next to that guy.

Also, ladies. Don’t wear anything white, or ivory, or champagne. If you have to ask yourself, “Is this dress too white?”, it probably is. There are many colors in the rainbow. Don’t be the gal who wore white to the wedding.

No one knows what to say to that gal.

So, let’s hear it. Any dress code conundrums?

Tell me in the comments!

2ndtrySIG

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