Business Casual, Holiday Dress optional
December 12, 2004
Next time I get an invitation to a Christmas party that reads "Holiday Attire" or "Business Casual, Holiday Dress optional," please point me toward my own website.
This year my employer held such a party. And coworkers were really vague about what that meant. And I didn't know what it meant. And lo: I am ignorant.
I mean, I know what business casual is - I dress that way everyday to go to work. But Holiday Dress??? What IS that? I assumed it meant that some people could wear holiday attire if they wanted. I didn't know what holiday attire was, but apparently someone did. I was imagining the ladies wearing sweaters and vests of sorts with black slacks. The kinds of sweaters and vests that are embroidered with christmas trees and jingling bells. Or perhaps with ribbons and bows and laughing snowmen and prancing reindeer. You know: the kind of sweaters sold in the old lady section. (Uhhh...sorry mom. But that is where they are.)
I WAS NOT IMAGINING FORMAL DRESSES AND SUITS. AND LOTS AND LOTS OF SEQUINS.
People! Women were wearing SEQUINS. Like, as in prom-style sequins. Didn't I already graduate from high school? Isn't this being held in a barbeque joint? Am I the only one who is confused here?
Earlier that night I had talked Roger into just wearing slacks and a shirt, despite his attempts to persuade me to dress up a little bit more. After all, it said Business Casual. NOT SEQUINS AND SUITS.
Roger and I felt soooooo-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o (sooooooo!) under-dressed. We immediately sat down at a table with some other folks in a lame attempt to hide half of ourselves underneath the table. Maybe people would think I was wearing a long, flowy skirt with my sweater. A skirt that would CERTAINLY be more acceptable than khakis. WHAT WAS I THINKING?
Soon we had to get up to go to the dinner buffet, which meant I was REQUIRED to WALK IN FRONT OF EVERYONE and then EVERYONE had to see what I was wearing. And this is when my vanity hit me. I asked Roger if he wanted to go home and change clothes, and he looked at me like I was half crazy. I sort of am, by the way.
So: attending a holiday party? Does the invitation say HOLIDAY ATTIRE (optional)? Do you not know what that means? It's okay. I didn't either. Which is why I'm about to break it down for you.
WHAT ATTIRE TO WEAR TO A HOLIDAY PARTY:
Men: Whatever you do, wear a blazer. Men have it easy because you can wear tailored jeans with a collared shirt and blazer and you have it made. Still, I'd suggest nice, dark slacks, a collared, button-down shirt and a blazer. Easy-peasy.
Women: I don't suggest wearing sequins unless you know that the party really is a formal one. (And if it is formal, it should say so on the invitation.) Sequin gowns at non-formal events scream either (a) HELP! I'M STUCK IN 1992! or (b) I have nowhere else to wear this, and really, really, really wanted to. Rather, wear a tasteful cocktail dress. Something nice, that hits in the region between your calves and just above your knees, maybe with minimal beading or a sequined neckline, but for the love of all things holy, please don't wear head-to-toe glitter.