Recently I bought and renovated my first house. It was a foreclosure and needed a lot of work. Renovating a house had been a life-long dream of mine and I felt very blessed to have the dream come true at a fairly young age. Along for the ride was my former co-worker and friend – my realtor. He was fairly new to the industry and trying to get into the game.
When the six month renovation was complete, I threw a huge Open House (*not* a housewarming) party. I was fortunate to have lots of friends that came and assisted me in painting or one way or another during the renovation (many painting parties were had!). I wanted them to come and celebrate the completion with me. I am a decorator and party planner, so all of this is my forte. I pulled out all the stops for the party. I hired a bartender and a d.j. I had it catered with the finest food. I hired professional cleaners to have the house looking absolutely spotless. I wanted it to be an elegant evening, with approximately 60 guests attending. Because of this, on the invitation I mentioned that it was cocktail dress.
I made a before and after board and made sure to mention all of the professionals that had done work on my house (in the industry connections are everything!). I wanted them to have a chance to showcase their work and maybe even get some business at the party. This included my realtor. I made sure to have a special section on my board that talked about him and his experience and how great of a realtor he had been. I told him if he wanted to bring business cards to the party, I could have a special place for them for guests to pick up.
About an hour before the party is going to begin, there is a lot of chaos in the house. The bartender had arrived late and was hurriedly setting up. My caterer had forgotten some items and was rushing back to the restaurant to get the items. I was doing last minute touch-ups and getting everything looking perfect before the guests arrive, along with getting myself ready. I’m getting texts left and right from friends asking for directions, etc. It was frustrating, as I was trying to focus, but I dutifully answered the texts.
One particular text left me with my mouth agape. My realtor texted me and stated the following:
“I know the invitation says dressy, but I just want to come in jeans and a t-shirt and be comfy. Is that ok?”
I didn’t respond because I simply didn’t know what to say. The invitation had stated the dress code, however I am not your mother and you can dress as you please. However, I would have imagined that because this was somewhat of a professional event for him, in which he could possibly get some business from young people looking to buy homes, you would think he would want to look professional.
This seems to be a trend among my generation to ask to break a faux paus in advance, as if that excuses it.
What are your thoughts on how to handle these types of situations?? 1001-13
While you can suggest the level of dress formality on invitations, you have no control over what guests ultimately do wear to a function. Mom stopped doing that at about age 10 and host(esses) do not get to dictate how people should be dressing. You did the right thing in avoiding answering the question because you are not this guest’s parental unit and you cannot give him permission to appear uncouth and under dressed to other guests. That is a decision he must make alone and the consequences of which he must accept.
You cannot stop people from discrediting themselves with inappropriate behavior or attire. You set the parameters for the party and he wants to disregard those boundaries. Sometimes it is no mystery to me why certain businesses and professionals fail. By dressing down, your realtor presents himself as unprofessional and therefore not likely to snag business from more professional clients. You tried to help, OP, but let it go and let him damage himself.