I'm sure some of you remember the time when we loathed our school uniforms and looked forward to the day when the Malaysian Education Ministry would approve the request for no uniforms and we got to dress just like those 90210 kids on TV. Well, the day never came and in a way it's a good thing for both the school goer and the parents!
Imagine the amount of time (and money!) needed to dress up for school with already the bad- hair days to deal with! Now that we're all grown up, we find ourselves secretly saying "Why can't there be just a uniform to wear to work or to an event to save us all the trouble of deciding what to wear?" Oh but it won't be fun then! Decision making won't be fun anymore if it was always about what to cook, where to eat, when to pay the bills besides all the corporate decision making done every day.
Here are some tips from Vanessa Lausch to help you decide what is good to wear to a:
Daytime Wedding / Graduation Service / Funeral:
It seems odd to see these three events grouped in the same fashion category, but the same, simple dress can work for all three events. Look for a dark, sheath dress to keep in your closet as a stand-by. It can be simple and staid enough for solemn events like a religious service or funeral and can be dressed up with jewelry, make-up, and accessories for a wedding or graduation service.
Party / Date:
Never underestimate the power of pants for bringing together a sexy, laid-back appearance. Look for pants with a slim, elegant fit and pair them with a feminine blouse that shows a hint of skin. Finish the outfit with a pair of high heels, and you will turn heads without looking like you are trying too hard.
Baby Shower / Birthday Party / Luncheon:
For an event where you'd like to appear informal and feminine, look for a skirt or dress that offers movement and drape. You can pair the skirt with a simple tank sweater in a light, feminine color. Your end result will be soft, feminine, and casual.
Formal Cocktail Party / Evening Wedding / New Year's Eve Bash:
On the nights when you really want to make a statement in your outfit, look for a simple dress with a bit of shine or one interesting detail. You will be able to wear this dress to several events without feeling too conspicuous. To keep eyes on you, try showing a little bit of skin with a strapless style. Your shoulders and neck definitely deserve some attention, and a strapless dress is less flashy than a plunging or backless style.
Gala / Ball:
For true evening dress style, you will likely need to purchase a new gown before the event. In this case, look for a simple style such as an A-line or sheath dress that you will be able to find in nearly any evening dress boutique. You can always add glitz to your outfit with jewelry and accessories.
With these tips in mind, you should be able to avoid the last-minute hassle when shopping for your next formal wear clothing item.
For men, it's a whole new confusing ball game unless you're one who's born a metrosexual, of course. Here's something from the Ask Andy About Clothes website:
When the invitation reads "Black Tie", "Black Tie Preferred", "Le Smoking", or "Smoking" for an evening semi-formal event or "White Tie" or "Full Dress" for an evening formal event, then your host is providing an elegant affair and expects you to dress according to fit the decor and ambiance of the evening.
When your invitation reads "Black Tie Optional", or "Black Tie Invited", the host is leaving the final decision up to you. Most men will be wearing tuxedos, however if you don’t have one you shouldn’t feel uncomfortable in a dark suit.
The big confusion with "Casual" on an invitation, comes from the fact that there are varying degrees of casual and just one word doesn’t cover it! Often the inviter has something in mind that isn’t properly communicated. "Informal" may mean "casual" to the inviter, but it is not!
PROPER FORMAL WEAR BY OCCASION:
What gentlemen wear depends upon the time of day and the occasion. A recent innovation of some wedding consultants to have the bridegroom wear one style of formal wear while the groomsmen and/or ushers wear another is a social blunder. (This is in reference to long jackets called Strollers or Walking coats). If you like, you can vary the look through different neckwear or boutonnieres.
DAY FORMAL: (Very formal diplomatic receptions) Black or Gray tailcoat, with matching trousers, gray double breasted vest, long gray tie, gray gloves, white boutonniere, gray homburg hat, pearl cufflinks and studs.
DAY SEMI-FORMAL: (weddings) Gray morning coat (cutaway), black or gray striped trousers, gray double breasted vest, gray long tie or pinned ascot, gray gloves, white boutonniere, gray top hat, spats, pearl cufflinks and studs.
EVENING FORMAL: (The Opera, charity ball) White tie and tails (black tailcoat), black trousers with two satin seams on the outside leg, white pique vest, white bow tie, white kid gloves, white boutonniere, black top hat, white silk scarf, black or gold cufflinks and studs.
EVENING SEMI-FORMAL: (weddings, theatre opening nights) Black dinner jacket or white in summer (tuxedo), black trousers with one satin seam on the outside leg, black vest or cummerbund, black bow tie, white silk scarf, black or gold cufflinks and studs.
DAY or EVENING INFORMAL (Don’t think casual!) also COCKTAIL, or BUSINESS ATTIRE: This requires a business suit, necktie, lace-up shoes, and for evening occasions a non-button-down collar dress shirt. Make certain that the person sending out the invitations really means informal and not casual since this is a common misconception!
CASUAL WEAR BY OCCASION:
The first two categories are acceptable for business and social occasions (office parties, functions at a friends house or a nice restaurant) where image is important.
1. BUSINESS, also EXECUTIVE- or CORPORATE CASUAL: The level beneath the business suit and tie, which can consist of a suit or sport jacket and/or sweater, and an optional tie. This is what you’d wear to a company party (retirement, holiday, etc.). The fabrics may be less dressy, and the tie a knit or novelty print. You may have slightly relaxed the look, but you’re still there for business.
In some cases you may want to wear a suit that’s a step up from business wear like your best Armani suit, French-cuff shirt, and Hermes tie just to show you have a life outside business!!
2. COUNTRY CLUB, or DRESSY, RESORT CASUAL, CASUAL CHIC: Apparel that you’d wear to a private country club for lunch or dinner. Dress trousers, sport shirt, dress shirt or knit polo shirt, a sweater or sport jacket and leather shoes/belt. It’s also appropriate for an off-site seminar, a party at a friend’s home or dinner at a nice restaurant. And yes the elements in your attire may have cost MORE than a good suit!!
Number 3 may be acceptable for certain businesses and some social functions.
3. SPORTY or RUGGED: The outdoor look! Off to the local pub to watch Monday night football with the guys, to a real game, when you’re invited to spend the weekend at one of Ralph Lauren’s homes, or third date out for pizza. Any activity where you might run into someone interesting. It’s more casual, but you still took some time to coordinate colors, and think about what elements you put together.
The following two categories are not acceptable for most businesses, or for any "important" social occasion (i.e. first date) where you’re concerned about your creditability, authority and/or image:
4. SATURDAY CASUAL OR LEISURE: What you wear on weekends, if you had to go out shopping or doing laundry, and there was even a remote chance of human contact.
5. ACTIVE: gear you’d wear to the gym, to play b-ball, washing your car, or gardening, but not stop off at the grocery store on the way home. It’s also what you might wear around the house if you weren’t expecting any visitors.
If you're not sure, it's always better to dress up than down. You can say you've got someplace important to go after this event!