Wednesday, 11 June 2008

Code Black


My friends will tell you that I have never been privy to the “what are you wearing?” pre event phone call nor have I ever removed fur (faux, of course) at the last minute just in case it was a little “too” much. I have no problem with pearls in a pub or 6 inch heels at a super market. I wouldn’t say I’m over the top, extravagant or even avant garde. I simply dress in what makes me feel fabulous and what I feel is appropriate. I am however very aware that my definition of appropriate does tend to differ greatly from the norm. As a result, I have developed quite a thick skin when I hear comments such as “what on earth is that on your head?” (it’s a peacock) and “don’t you ever wear a flat shoe?” (only on the bus).

I do, however, very much believe in the ‘dress code’. Call me old fashioned or a stickler for the rules but if a host asks you kindly in advance to dress in semi formal attire for their dinner party or in black tie for their gala event then clearly your Levis are not an option. I coordinate parties for a living and each day sees me go through the roller coaster of emotions that are involved with the planning, prepping, sourcing, managing and creating a fabulous event. From an intimate 30th birthday for 10, to a charity fundraising ball for 1000, 100% dedication from hosts and committees involved is required to pull off a successful event. Guests’ response to the dress code can sometimes make or break the evening.

I recently attended a dinner party in a lovely home owned by a friend of a friend. There was such hype prior to the party. Hand written invitations had been sent, wait staff had been booked and the dress code was set as ‘semi formal’. Guests were given more than enough time to source their required regalia.

Let’s be honest, my host had not asked for designer couture or Savile Row suits. Semi formal is not difficult to attain people. For some reason boys tend to do a lot of eye rolling, huffing and puffing when confronted with the semi formal code. Do they not realise cuff links, a collar and a pair of trousers is not a difficult combination?* For the ladies an LBD and a pair of high street heels will cover it (however readers of MOMTD will recognise that I may be a little more creative).

With place cards, themed table settings and outside caterers, the dinner party was a charming event and I was honoured to have been in the presence of such a delightful environment. But by the time pre dinner cocktails had been served I had counted 4 pairs of jeans, 3 pairs of trainers and can you believe 5 rucksacks/back packs - hand luggage at a semi formal dinner party? This had me very confused. Was there a secret holiday giveaway for male guests at the end of the evening’s festivities?

Despite being terribly underdressed, the 501’s and rucksacks thoroughly enjoyed themselves and had no problem guzzling the host’s champagne whilst devouring the 3 course gourmet meal. The fact that these men had not considered the host’s initial requests of bringing a little bit of glamour to her celebratory dinner made me feel somewhat sad. Due to their ignorance, the ambiance she had so badly wanted to create didn’t really come to fruition.

If a man organized a social, mixed game of touch football and the female team mates arrived in Louboutins and dresses that restricted ones’ movement they would surely have something to say. So tell me, how can a man slip under the radar in his Nikes when a pair of Oxfords are clearly the code of the day?

* Disclaimer: I have a handful of super super stylish ‘man’ friends (of both sexual orientation). It’s a shame they weren’t at this party in their brogues and braces as the host would have loved them.

17 people have commented:

Imelda Matt said...

FG, I need to FedEx you my spare Taser that straighten out those 'hoodlums'! Next time you need a dashing gentleman caller call me on the mobile. The G5's just sitting in my hanger!

Imelda Matt said...

with all the 'glamour' you have on offer and you still have a hunkering for Tony Bianco? Girl...you've got it bad! Let me see if I can't wrangle sumet! What size are you?

susie_bubble said...

I'm all for sticking to the dress codes too...especially if it means encouraging men to dress up....

gracie said...

Yes we must have the manners to respect the wishers of the host, we are honoured to be invited and must understand the time /effort and expense that is put into an evening of elegance. The host normally doesn't even enjoy their own function it really is for our pleasure dont you think.

Make Do & Mend said...

No! Love the post because you are so right. No dressing up should be a crime.
Honestly well said and poor host.

Cupcakes and Cashmere said...

wow, i had no idea you coordinate parties for a living! though that sounds quite difficult, it also seems like it would be extremely rewarding, as well. also, i've added you to my blogroll and just wanted to say that i truly enjoy reading your blog everyday. it's one of the few out there that provides such a happy outlook on life that makes it a joy to read! xo

gaby said...

Argh I can't believe they did this! Not for reasons of etiquette (which I have already expressed my dislike of) but because it's just pure wastefulness and meanness.

enc said...

I grew up with many social mores and conventions which I still follow. However, I live in the land of the backwards hat, cargo shorts, and t-shirt, and it really is disappointing that no one can get out of this costume.

Cupcakes and Cashmerec said...

sorry for my infiltration of comments on your page, but what you wrote on mine made me laugh so hard (i got some bad looks from cubicle mates)! of course it was my fault for checking my email at work, but you are absolutely hilarious. and please do tell when you finally get around to ask sienna her opinion on your outfit! :)

The Seeker said...

Oh, I love the dress code for formal ocasions.
It makes a glamour ambience.
Well, to be honest I think it was bad manners to the host.

xx

lauren said...

I can fully appreciate this story. A couple of months ago there was a large family party to which my boy of the time was invited. It was neat-casual black&red themed. When I went to pick up the male he was ironing a blue shirt....
Sigh.

shenley_girl said...

wow thank ytou so much for your lovley comment! i WILL go and be a mini carrie , if thing dont turn out as hopped! hehe

so here... i felt obliged to respond the lovely comment!

YES i totally agree with you... i am always turning up at the super market in fancy dress to have ppl wondering what i am doing!! personally i find it quite funny really. but to a semi formal party and have trainers and jeans! an outrage i think! i mean if you respect the person, dress well for goodness sake!

xxxj

Flat Broke Fab Ashleigh... said...

I totally agree! Thenagain i'm a perfectionist so if even one person turned up in jeans it would ruin everything for me! I wouldn't dream of allowing my boyfriend to go to an event wearing the wrong type of ensemble...thenagain i practically dress the poor boy anyway (which i love!) and i'm lucky that he likes the idea of dressing smartly...hes the perfect 'plus 1' for any event...if anyones interested they can have him for £50 an hour... :oD (thought i had better mention that i'm kidding...just incase!)

nv said...

I totally understand. I asked friends to come semi-formal for my dinner because hey it was my birthday and I wanted it to be nice and they cam in jeans and shorts and I wanted to kick them in the face. Thanks for visiting my blog! I like yours too, very good posts! Come visit again :) oh and I'm adding you to my links

Cheryl Lynn said...

In a world of sagging jeans, girls that dress like boys and tons of people that dress like no one and nothing on a regular basis, I certainly can relate to your post. You are soooooo on point here. It's gotten so bad for me, that I'm considering resurrecting the era of the charm school. I'm pushing 50, so I'm from the era where you look for ANY and EVERY opportunity to dress up...

Wonderful way to make a living, by the way.

Super Kawaii Mama said...

I too get the 'looks', the 'comments' and even the 'giggles', but given the attire of those they come from I consider them a compliment! As for not dressing for a party when the host has been so specific, that is just downright rude! It's up there with my other pet hate of not RSVP'ing, (as I sit here I am still awaiting 9 tardy responses for a party of 10).

Boy In Boston Now In London said...

Francis, this isn't a thinly veiled dig at those pretty young things invited to your recent birthday celebrations? I can't remember if there was a dress code, and really, really hope I was not included in the clique so ruthlessly dissected in these comments.. *Feeling of genuine horror gripping my chest like an vice*

And to add - Jeans I can forgive. Trainers? Definitely not. As for rucksacks, the owners should have been politely shown the door, or at the very least made to sit outside. If you come dressed for camping, you should be seated accordingly.