"Always dress up, because you can always
dress down. Never dress down, because you can never dress
up!" --- Anonymous
"Men in Black," is an
article in an early April 2004 Wall Street Journal
publicaton that discussed how this time of year thousands of
young men and women are making their first attempts at looking
grown-up by dressing up to attend their proms. It also
described the confusion shared by young and mature people
alike in knowing what to wear to various parties and
Attire, at any age, expresses a person's lifestyle. For
prom night, what you wear adds points to your high school
"coolness" factor. In the working world, what you wear is an
indication of your professionalism. Studies indicate
successful people in virtually every business have developed a
look and image that says success. Think of clothing as
currency used to barter goodwill. Wardrobe conveys messages of
status: authority, power, rank;
dependability, adventurousness; class
distinction: upper-, upper middle-, or lower
middle-class; character and taste:
trustworthiness and good judgment.
"Your clothing must be equal to the quality
of your life.
When you buy cheap, you get
An appropriate wardrobe is a strategy for image
development equally as important as other business and
"Having a good public image makes friends,
builds customer loyalty, attracts investors, motivates
staff, and helps you survive difficult economic times. A weak
image is a liability that can cost you lost opportunities
can drive you out of
Industry Council International
Begin your process to an appropriate wardrobe, and a
good public image, with this primer on what to wear at various
parties and events this spring and summer. Feel free to share
this information with any teen you know who is selecting a
prom night outfit this month.
are optional. If worn, remove the right hand glove when
going through a receiving line
- For men, black-tie denotes a single or
double-breasted dinner jacket with a black silk bow
tie (properly referred to as a dinner jacket, but
commonly called "tuxedo" or "tux.").
- For women, an invitation to a black tie event
means wearing a long, floor length evening
dresses or evening separates. A short cocktail dress
may be appropriate for some cocktail receptions,
summer events, or daytime functions.
- At international affairs, men and women are
often invited to wear traditional formal attire from
- Military personnel wear an equivalent
|Black Tie Optional|
Black tie optional is a term created to allow
guests (primarily men) to choose whether to wear formal
clothes described above or informal attire described
below. It is not an open invitation to dress in
whatever a person's wants.
- Choices for men are a tuxedo or a dark suit,
white shirt, and evening tie. Nothing else! No
light colored suit, or sport coat, or who knows what
- For women the choice of a floor length gown,
evening suit, or short cocktail dress are all
American term invented by the fashion industry to
promote a style of clothing that included a sport coat
(such as a blue blazer), a white or colored shirt, tie,
slacks, and loafer-style shoes. This allowed men more
flexibility in their clothing choices than simply
wearing a business suit to work every day. Over time
this term has been used and abused to an
indistinguishable level, having no true
Corporate America, in an effort to increase
productivity and morale, created Casual Fridays. The
original intent was to demonstrate to the staff that
owners and management of companies were flexible to the
changes in modern business environments, by allowing
staff to dress "down" one day a week.
Regrettably, studies show this strategy has
backfired. Instead of building morale and encouraging
work productivity, business casual opened a Pandora's
box to mass confusion on what to wear to work on
Fridays. Recent studies show a direct correlation to the
diminished amount and accuracy of work produced on
Fridays versus any other day of the week. As a result,
more and more companies are moving back to one style of
dress for all regular workdays.
matter how you define business casual, according to this
etiquette professional, "There is no place
in the workplace for blue
There are degrees of casual ranging from OK for
business to OK for gardening at home. The trick is to
dress appropriately for the activity.
- Casual Dress: For both men and women casual
denotes sports attire as appropriate for barbecues,
patio or pool parties, casual suppers, and sporting
events. If you are going to actually engage in a
sport, of course, wear the appropriate tennis outfit,
- Dressy Casual: Men wear trousers (long or
short) and collared shirt, with or without a tie, with
a sweater or a sport jacket depending upon the
weather. Women may wear either slacks or skirts.
Skirts may be mini, short, mid-calf or long, and
typically only in daytime fabrics.
- Totally Casual: Any attire less than what is
described above, and which-in my opinion-should only
be worn around the house, to the supermarket, or
Annoyance: With the sole exception of when you
attend an event in a domed stadium, baseball caps and
other outdoor hats should not be worn indoors-in
restaurants, movie theaters, offices, or homes.
- Traditionally, before six o'clock in the
evening, women wear a late afternoon dress or a
cocktail or theater suit.
- Men wear a dark suit, dress shirt
(traditionally white), and tie.
- After six o'clock formal dress means black tie
(see above) or white tie (see below).
"semi-formal" also denotes this style of dress,
primarily in the evening. This term historically means
just a cut under black tie for a moderately formal
- Before six o'clock
in the evening informal signifies women wear an
afternoon dress or dress suit. Men wear a coat and
tie, such as a sport jacket with a tie or a dark or
light business suit (depending upon the season and
- After six o'clock
in the evening women may wear a very dressy
dress or a short or long cocktail dress or dress suit.
Men wear a dark business suit, a dress shirt
(typically white), and evening tie.
most formal style of them all is not as often seen in
the U.S. It denotes full evening attire for both men and
- Men wear a long black tailcoat and white piqué
bow tie-or equivalent military uniform.
- Women don the dressiest floor-length formal
gown she can dare to wear. If you wear gloves, remove
them to eat, drink, or shake hands.
When venturing out with a
partner, do take time to discuss and coordinate your
outfits so that you are both within the same formality
range. You want to compliment each other, not look like
The Odd Couple, as depicted in
this month's image shown above.
view our past Etiquette Tips of the Month, please
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