Because you can't have depths without surfaces.
Linda Grant, thinking about clothes, books and other matters.

Sunday, 20 July 2008

How to work out what to wear

The wedding invitation's in her bag

Harry set off with his linen suit and his Martin Margiela shirt in a suit bag yesterday, to attend a social event. He was anticipating  being the only dressed up man there. If anyone called him on it, he said, he was going to tell them that he'd decided to be Italian.

Of course, what he was wearing was exactly the right kit for such an occasion. 

We spend a lot of time wondering what other people will be wearing, terrified of being under or overdressed. Harry and I agreed that we should turn this on the head and ask ourselves - what is the appropriate dress for the occasion. Wedding: jeans and t-shirt? No. Barbecue: black tie? No. It's fairly simple, really.

For example: mid-week post work party in garden of publisher - linen Nicole Farhi dress, structured jacket. Sunday evening drinks party in Central London flat: LBD and statement jewellery.

And if the other guests don't have the wit to understand what they're suppose to wear, that's their problem. You know you're wearing the right thing.

There is something wrong with this Anglo-Saxon culture which buys clothes for special occasions, instead of buying clothes you can dress up or down so you can look fabulous every day, but that's another subject.


greying pixie said...

I agree with every word. Just back from a three day conference, which is my favourite kind, as in that short space of time there is the chance for at least six changes of clothes, usually including a gala dinner on the second evening. My husband calls these conferences my 'rest cure'!

Toby Wollin said...

I've come to feel that people who insist on showing up at 'occasions' wearing the same items they'd don if they were running out to the grocery store for a copy of the Sunday paper and a quart of 1% milk, are also the same people who feel they are doing you some sort of favor showing up. If they go to church, they are wearing the same thing - "showing up is the only important thing". Weddings - ditto. Funerals - the same. BBQs - a repeat. Many times these are the same people who 'forget' to RSVP for anything and who will show up anyway. To me, it's incredibly rude. People showed up at my eldest daughter's wedding (other side, another story)dressed in jeans and tee shirts to a very nice afternoon wedding. We won't discuss the number of women who showed up (my own sister!!)wearing black. It all is part and parcel of the whole 'not dressing for work' thing and indicates to me a level of lack of caring(not only for one's self but also, if it is attendance by invitation, careless of the feelings of the host or hostess) that is unfortunately very prevalent.

Cal said...

buying clothes you can dress up or down so you can look fabulous every day

I am generally not very good at this (to Anglo-Saxon maybe?) but I have a fantastic black Ghost dress - silk jersey rather than the typical Ghost material - that works brilliantly for it. Last summer (though oddly not so much this year) I wore it constantly: plain for work, with denim jacket for casual, as LBD with suitable shoes and jewellery, with a long t-shirt layered underneath it.

It's seems to be pretty much the only piece of clothing I own that can cover the whole of the casual to dressed up range. I suspect it's something to do with it being jersey but not cotton and to do with the cut and shape and quality.

lagatta said...

yToby, no black at weddings is a cultural thing, not a matter of appropriate formality. Not all cultures and places follow it - here, and certainly in Paris, it would be seen as very chic (especially if accessorized with a touch of colour), not funereal.

The most recent wedding I attended - adult people, in their forties - the bride wore a stunning red dress - like me, she hates white - so I had to avoid wearing my favourite long summer dress, which is also red. That would have been very rude.

I attended another wedding in Paris, and most everyone was in black. Some, of course, had pretty scarves.

If you google sites about wedding etiquette, you will find that the "no black" rule has pretty much gone by the wayside, but once again it depends on your culture, country and region.

But NO WAY are you getting me in anything pastel!

Kelly said...

I am in absolute agreement. I could go on and on, but suffice to say that I am often surprised and disappointed at the outfits people choose to wear (and even more surprised when they try to make me feel as if I am in the wrong for putting on something other than jeans!).

Duchesse said...

This is one of my hot buttons. I would love, next time someone shows up to a dinner for which it took me four days to plan, shop and cook in running shoes and a faded tee shirt to say, "Oh. Excuse me." And take all the pots off and open a box of Kraft dinner and say, "There, we're even."

Anonymous said...

Its not unique to Anglo-Saxon culture to have special clothes for special occasions, so where'd that come from?

What's wrong w/ having special moments in life and special clobber to go along w/ it? Sometimes celebration involves change from the everyday. Sometimes it's good for the soul to put on a new skin, if you will.

rb said...

I am just back from my sister's outdoor wedding in Texas, and despite her repeatedly telling everyone the wedding was "casual," I was pleasantly surprised that the vast majority of the women wore very pretty, very dressy dresses.

The men, however, were another story.