Formality and The Unknown

If you know me, you’ll know that I get frustrated easily. Not for any particular reason, I just do. I’m a fast paced person and my level of patience has become, well, quite minimal. But I can tell you in all honesty, that the single most frustrating experience is deciding what to wear to a party when the host has conveniently forgotten to advise you on the formality of your attire. It is so frustrating that it usually forces me to turn my bedroom floor into something from a postapocolyptic movie: every article of clothing I own ends up strewn from bed, to dresser, to papasan, to carpet, to cat. And I absolutely loath whoever the host is for putting me through such an anxious time. I mean come one, who wants to be the one overdressed individual in panty-hose and Spanx at a casual get-together. Or the one underdressed standout in jeans and a button down when the party is black tie? AWKWARD.

What I am going to do (and by the way, this is the type of post you should print out and hang on your mirror in emergencies) is simply define the six main types of general attire. So when the invitation says “Dressy Casual”, you don’t have to go “what the F*#^ does that mean?!?”

So, just for you, here is Micayla Pearl’s Guide to Dressing Yourself Acceptably For A Party When The Host Is Being Ambiguous:

One: Ask your friends (who are also invited to the party) what they plan on wearing. It’s always good to scope out what others are wearing so you don’t show up being the awkward one out. Alone.

Formal Attire: Okay, so it says formal. Don’t freak out. This means “Extra nice clothing”. You are dressing as though it is a wedding, funeral, or ceremony of sorts. Dresses/blouses/skirts. Little black dresses are always a good choice. Panty-hose and Spanx ladies. Yep, I know it’s uncomfortable but suck it in. Heels, no sandals. Gents, this calls for suits and ties. Shiny shoes; no scuffs allowed. Tuxedos not required at this stage.

Casual/Informal Attire: Self-explanatory, but if you don’t understand it…laid-back clothing! Jeans. Button downs. V-necks. Comfortable dresses. Sundresses allowed (in the summer). Sweaters. Crocs. Just kidding. 

Dressy Casual Attire: This is the most confusing category. Because it says “dressy” but yet “casual”. Is this an oxymoron? Nope. Basically it’s a step below “formal” but two steps above “casual”. The dresses/skirts do not have to be as fancy as wedding attire, but need to be acceptable if the president randomly calls to have dinner. Flats are acceptable as long as they look nice enough for a fancy dinner at a steakhouse. Suits are always a good choice, but sports jackets and khakis, or blazers and black pants will work just fine. Shiny shoes are still required. Jeans not acceptable. Okay basically, dress as though you are going on a first date with an extremely handsome/gorgeous date.

Business Casual Attire: Business attire. That is all. What do you wear to work?…*pause, think* Ok, now wear that to this party or get-together.

Black Tie Attire: THIS. IS. FANCY. Floor length dresses. Heels are a must. Tuxedos. Jewelry. Hairdos. No Hairdonts. *Ha* Make-up is required ladies. Gentlemen, do something with your hair. Cologne and perfume is necessary.

Costume Attire: If you do not understand this category, then I don’t believe I am of any help to you. But-make sure this is actually a costume party! You don’t want to end up like Elle Woods in Legally Blonde who is the only bunny at a casual holiday party…But hey, she rocks it!

So, when the host is not forthcoming, it is essentially up to you to determine how casual or fancy to dress. Personally, I am an over-dresser, Spanx and all. But I know many people that are under-dressers and they are 100% OK with that. And if you dress inappropriately, you can always make up a good excuse like, “My cat threw up on my good skirt!” or “Oh…your party was the “dressy casual” one? I totally thought it was next weekend. I’ve been invited to soooo many parties, hahaha, I just mix them all up!”

Good luck with the holiday season ladies and gentlemen!


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