The Under Dressed Guest

by admin on October 2, 2013

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.

{ 58 comments… read them below or add one }

Coralreef October 2, 2013 at 8:30 am

As much as we would like to think that there is more to people than their appearances, when it comes to down to it, unless you dress the part, you won’t get the part. This is even more important in any professionnal setting, even if outside an office or conference room.

OP, your guest will have to live with his decision. If he wants comfy over possible business contacts, let it be on his head. As Admin said, you are not his parent, spouse or significant other. He will learn from his mistakes or he will crash and burn.

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Lo October 2, 2013 at 8:31 am

Because this was an opportunity for your realtor to get more business it seems obvious that by not conforming to dress code and standing out as being more casual he is harming his chances at getting their business.

Other than that I think disregarding dress code for a party is the least egregious of possible offenses as it only hurts the person who is underdressed. It’s an important part of etiquette but failing to comply doesn’t harm the host or other partygoers and comes with it’s own consequences– the guy looks foolish.

So I think the way you handled it was right on.

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ferretrick October 2, 2013 at 8:40 am

OP, you left out the good part! Did he actually show, what was he wearing, and was he underdressed? Did the other guests seem to avoid him?

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Cat October 2, 2013 at 8:48 am

I have applied for jobs and have seen other applicants come in with curlers in hair, shorts, tee shirts, flip-flops and other interested attire. I have often wanted to ask them if they thought their style of dress had a direct effect on their chances of being hired.

You only get one chance to make a first impression. I once hired a realtor (on the recommendation of a friend) who would stop showing me a house in order to sneak into a neighbor’s yard and to steal fruit. If she could not sell enough homes to give her the financial ability to purchase fruit, how good of a realtor was she? I later learned she had a drug habit.

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Phoebe161 October 2, 2013 at 9:09 am

I just wanted to give kudos to OP for hosting the open house party. What a lovely way to thank everyone!

BTW I’m another who would like to hear “the rest of the story’ ie how was the party and did the realtor show up in jeans & t-shirt.

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Rachel October 2, 2013 at 9:16 am

congrats to the op on finishing her house and seeing a dream come to fruition. I hope you will make friends with people who are as focused on success as you.

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Otterpop October 2, 2013 at 9:44 am

Yep, we’d like the rest of the story please.

What is is with people? Recently, a woman come into our district office wearing a sheer white blouse with a spangled bra underneath and cut off denim shorts. She was looking for work (as what?). We couldn’t get rid of her fast enough.

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Jewel October 2, 2013 at 9:51 am

Knowing how to dress for the occasion is a BASIC skill that ranks right along with having good table that anyone seeking success in his/her field (and in life) should have mastered long ago. I don’t see this realtor having a very lucrative career. I, too, hope the OP will post a “rest of the story” follow-up!

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Hello! October 2, 2013 at 9:56 am

Thank you OP for giving out a dresscode. You do not know how many times in the past few years I have attended events where I was not sure of the dress code and ended up either wildly overdressed or underdressed. So I applaud you for that. Because of how wildly different people dress, you will discover that no matter what the occasion – whether it’s a shower, wedding, open house or even funeral –people dress the way they want to nowadays–and it’s almost always “dress-down” (people rarely dress-up at functions, at least where I live).

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Lisa October 2, 2013 at 10:19 am

I live in Southern California and am always amazed at what people find appropriate to wear at various events. Maybe it’s just the relaxed attitude of my city, or perhaps a new trend I’m not accustomed to, but jeans and t-shirts, shorts and flip flops have found their way into showers, weddings and funerals. As Admin said, you cannot dictate what people wear and have to assume they are adults and are in possession of a mirror.

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Kristin October 2, 2013 at 10:25 am

That he actually asked if he could come dressed down shows that he knows you preferred dressier attire but didn’t care to respect your wishes. If he didn’t have cocktail attire, he could at least dress up a little bit better than what he’d wear to a BBQ. I would have suggested to him right then that if he wanted to “get into the game”, he would be wise to dress the part. It was disappointing to you, I’m sure, but his choice probably only served to make him look ridiculous. It’s his problem, not yours.

Wow! Someone showed up to a job interview in curlers? I wish I could have seen the look on the interviewer’s face.

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Allie October 2, 2013 at 10:30 am

Well, it could have been worse. When I read the title and began the story, I pictured him prancing around your house in a bath robe. My husband, alas, is one of those who insists on wearing jeans to everything (except funerals, thankfully). Granted, he wears dark jeans that are in good shape, not torn or ripped, and dresses up the top half with a smart sweater or dress shirt. It doesn’t affect his job. He’s a property manager for a company that owns a lot of commercial property so jeans are kind of his uniform at work. You’d think he’d want to wear something different to socialize : )

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Teapot October 2, 2013 at 10:42 am

I’m glad this topic came up, because I had a situation a few weeks ago that I was thinking of sumbitting. Sadly OP, I don’t really think this is a generational thing. I think it’s more just plain selfish behavior. My office’s dress code is a very lax *business* casual leaning towards the casual. Fridays are totally casual, including jeans and t-shirts. A co-worker’s mother passed away and the viewing was only being held on one day, a Friday. Our managers are really pretty great and always allow us to take time during the workday to attend funerals. We use our lunch hour and if we’re gone a bit longer, we’re not docked or asked to make the time up later on. So several of us made plans on Thursday to go together the next day. I was fairly shocked to see that these women refused to give up just one casual Friday and all of them came to work in well-worn jeans and t-shirts. I wasn’t overly dressed, but I did wear what I thought was appropriate for the occasion.

I’d really like to hear how the other guests reacted to this man. I’m sure he stood out in the crowd and not in a good way. To me he would have looked like he was shouting out that he didn’t know how to handle himself in a professional manner, but for all I know, your other guests may have thought ‘gee, I wish I’d had the nerve to bucked the dress code, too!’

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Lychii October 2, 2013 at 10:52 am

My first reaction was that OP should have just texted back: “I’d rather you dress up”, but on second thought, she did the right thing. There’s no reason a host should negotiate the dress code with her guest. The guy knew what was expected of him.

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LisaB October 2, 2013 at 11:05 am

Regarding professional dress, I actually had the opposite situation when I moved from Washington, DC, to Austin, Texas. DC (at least at the time when I was there, in the late 90s/early aughts) was very conservative in terms of professional dress. If you worked downtown, you were expected to dress in a suit (and for women, in heels and hose—no bare legs!). “Casual Fridays” meant you could wear khakis and loafers; jeans were verboten in most offices. So when I moved to Austin and went on job interviews, I would wear my very best interview suit with hose and heels. And most of the time my interviewer would be wearing shorts, t-shirt, and flip flops—and look at me as if I had come from a different planet!

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gramma dishes October 2, 2013 at 11:07 am

You describe him as your former co-worker and friend. The word ‘friend’ is crucial here. You mention that you were able to accomplish your goal of renovating a house at a fairly young age and you also mention that he was new to the realty business.

No, you are definitely not his parental unit, but as a friend I think maybe I would have responded that he, of course, was free to dress as he chooses, but that one of the reasons you had invited him was so that he could be introduced to other people who might have a need for his services in the future. Those future clients would be dressed up, so he might want to consider how his choice of attire might affect their evaluation of him as a professional person with whom they’d feel comfortable doing business. I kind of think that’s what “friends” do for each other — point out possible repercussions of deviating from the ‘norm’.

Once you’ve armed him with that information he is of course fully responsible for his decision as to clothing choices and the inevitable consequences. You haven’t insisted that he dress a particular way. You’ve just provided him with reasons that might make him want to reconsider. You’ve done your part as a friend.

I’m joining the previous posters in really wanting to hear how this scenario actually played out.

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Lisa October 2, 2013 at 11:11 am

“Did he actually show, what was he wearing, and was he underdressed?”

Yes, I want to know this too!

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Wendy B. October 2, 2013 at 11:38 am

If he did show up, and noticed no one took his business cards, and he asked why, at that point you might want to mention the word “professionalism.” It means a whole lot.

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Anonymous October 2, 2013 at 12:01 pm

I would have responded with something like, “Well, I’m going to be dressed up, and I imagine that others will do the same, because the invitations specify formal attire, so you might feel a little out of place in jeans.” However, if the realtor did show up in jeans and a T-shirt, was it a plain T-shirt, a T-shirt with a neutral logo or slogan, something blatantly inappropriate like beer or Playboy, or, alternatively, was it a shirt with “XYZ Realty?” If it was the latter, I can see the realtor thinking, “I want to be comfortable and drum up business at the same time. I know, I’ll wear my firm logo T-shirt.” That doesn’t make it okay, but it kind of makes sense.

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DGS October 2, 2013 at 12:04 pm

As pp’s have said, the onus of dressing appropriately is on him, and while you, OP, absolutely did your part (and spectacularly, might I add), by organizing and hosting a glamorous party and suggesting a dress-code, you have no control of how your guests present to the party. It sounds like your realtor/friend was woefully unaware of how much first impressions matter in any business. His loss, if he in fact, showed up in a t-shirt and jeans.

Off topic, kudos to you for hosting what sounds like a terrific and lovely event!

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June First October 2, 2013 at 12:16 pm

I think not responding is fine…but then you leave the door open for a booron to claim that you gave the all-clear by not dissuading him. Not extremely likely, but could still happen.

I’d be tempted to (after giving a long-suffering sigh) text back, “Up to you. Lots of potential real estate contacts here.” He’s a grown-up, and it’s his decision. And that text would take about 30 seconds.

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Angel October 2, 2013 at 12:22 pm

I too, share the OP’s shock. Here she is handing her realtor the opportunity to generate more business on a silver platter, and he wants to muck it up by dressing down? Who does this? It’s one thing if it’s a casual party, but most of the guests will be dressed up. Showing up in a t-shirt and jeans is almost begging people not to hire him. He will stick out like a sore thumb. The OP is correct in not answering the text. Some people are just utterly clueless.

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Harley Granny October 2, 2013 at 12:24 pm

You did the right thing. I truly hope he showed up looking like a slob and everyone else was dressed appropriately.

I love it when people put the preferred dress on the invite. I’ve showed up to things over dressed and underdressed because people weren’t clear on just what type of event it was.

congrats on finishing your 1st rehab!

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badkitty October 2, 2013 at 12:33 pm

I’m still puzzled over the concept of a professional adult who doesn’t have anything comfortable to wear in a situation like this. This was not a formal event, to which he would be required to stuff himself into a tux, and men’s garments are generally pretty comfortable regardless of the fabric or color… how is it “uncomfortable” to throw on a sport coat or a sweater?

“I just want to be comfy” is a childish response, imo… go be “comfy” at home in your pj’s if you don’t want to dress like an adult and socialize like one.

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kingsrings October 2, 2013 at 1:01 pm

Even though the OP hired him, she’s still not technically his boss. She doesn’t get to dictate what he should and shouldn’t wear to this party. Let him suffer the consequences of dressing inappropriately for the event!

Along this same vein – what is thought of parties where a certain kind of dress is REQUIRED? Costume parties, for instance. With Halloween coming up, there’s obviously going to be a lot of them happening. I recently received a Halloween party invite where costumes are required, or you won’t be allowed to attend. It kind of rubs me the wrong way – some of us, like myself, are on very fixed budgets right now, and even some cost is too much. But they don’t get to tell me exactly what costume to wear, so I guess I can show up in something very basic ; ) But overall, is this bad etiquette to actually require guests to dress a certain way at a party?

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Jayhawk October 2, 2013 at 1:49 pm

You did great. Another option would be to text back, “Well, you do what you think is best.” You’ve put on the invitation what you would like and you’re trying to help this guy out with some great networking opportunities. It’s not your call to give him “permission” to dress down. If he’s going to do so, it’s totally his own decision and his consequences.

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Kirst October 2, 2013 at 2:12 pm

This was a party, not a business networking event. It was kind to offer the use of some space for business cards etc, but the realtor was under no obligation to view the party as an advertising opportunity and was perfectly entitled to treat it as nothing but a social gathering and dress according to his view of appropriate clothing for a social event.
Besides, if people were actually looking for recommendations for realtors, would they really be put off if one they met at a party wasn’t dressed for work?

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Amara October 2, 2013 at 2:36 pm

Admin, I have to disagree with you on this one. I think the OP should have responded and told him that it is formal dress and jeans are not acceptable. She’s not his mother but it is HER party, and she wanted to have a more formal event. She went to a considerable amount of trouble and expense to throw it, and she has the right to decree the level of dress she wants. Can she enforce it? Probably not, but when he asked he should have been told “no.”

I think it’s a matter of respect for the host. And to say that the host pretty much has to take what a guest decides to do, at least in terms of dress, feels all wrong. It matters not that the realtor likely screwed himself out of possible clients. That’s his problem. But it does matter that he disrespected his host and the event she chose to share with him.

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Raven October 2, 2013 at 2:57 pm

Underdressing for an event, IMO, is rude. It says to your host, “Your event is not worth cleaning up for.” I would like to see more people take the time to dress up and show their hosts some respect. Personally, I’d rather be overdressed than overdressed. Showing up to a party that stated “cocktail” in jeans and a tee is gross.

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Marozia October 2, 2013 at 3:27 pm

You’re not his keeper. If he wants to dress other than the invitation states, let him. It will show how truly professional he is.
You did the right thing OP.

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babs October 2, 2013 at 3:28 pm

Totally agree with the admin. I’m sure this is not the first bad social decision he’s made and won’t the the last. I have a boss exactly like this. Smart as all get-out, CEO of a large organization, but absolutely no common sense about things of this nature. This would be just like him. Your guest has to live with his decisions and the impression he made, and it’s not a reflection on you. For our 20th high school reunion my husband and I went to the evening party at a country club and it was semi formal. One couple arrived in shorts and flip flops. They were so out of place and I was actually embarrassed for them, but they seemed quite comfortable! As they say, it takes all kinds to make this world go around!

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acr October 2, 2013 at 3:32 pm

I think the realtor was breathtakingly rude. Texting a host an hour or so (OP didn’t give an exact timeline) before a party starts? To ask a completely ridiculous question? A question which the hostess has ALREADY answered? What a self-involved twit.

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EllenS October 2, 2013 at 5:39 pm

OP, while you could have reminded him that this was a professional showcase event, I don’t think you were obligated to do so.

I fear, as June, that Realtor may have been lining you up in advance for future blame-shifting. “Why didn’t you TELL me it was important?” Well, you had already told him once.

I would also like to hear how this came out, and whether Realtor tried to give OP any negative fallout later.

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Jazzgirl205 October 2, 2013 at 9:48 pm

Some of these commentors have stated that the man’s dress hurts no one but himself. I disagree. Dressing sloppy for a party extracts some of the elegance the hostess worked so hard to achieve. The same goes for dressing down when going to a fancy restaurant.
I usually don’t require my guests to dress a certain way but sometimes I do when there is a certain theme or a certain tone I want to achieve. One January, I had a Victorian games cocktail party (you know, running around the house, sardines, blind mans bluff, hunting trip, jigs and reels). While I didn’t want it to be a costume party, I did want modern cocktail dress. After all, I had worked hard decorating the place, making appropriate 19th century edibles, finding games and music, etc… Most were excited about it but one couple told my dh, “Sounds like a lot of fun. We’ll be there but we don’t dress up.” My dh replied, “Then I’m afraid you’ll feel very uncomfortable at this party. Maybe next time.”

I had another party in which we removed all the furniture from the livingroom and diningroom, decorated the place with small tables, sandlewood candles, mardi gras beads and moorish arches, and hired a jazz band. My house was transformed into a 1930s Egyptian themed night club. We even made pyramid shaped invitations. Since all of our male friends owned white tie and tails, we made it simple and stated costume de rigeur (we’re not rich, we just lived on the Gulf Coast). Point is, the hosts have put a lot of time and money into a party. The least the guest can do is dress for the occasion. If he doesn’t, he is showing contempt for the host and the other guests.

Kingsrings, I don’t know about you, but I can usually clean out my closet and come up with all kinds of costume ideas that don’t cost a cent: Gypsy, Native American, space alien, princess, medieval plague victim. It just takes imagination and a sense of fun.

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Barbarian October 2, 2013 at 10:07 pm

It’s great to see that OP made such a lovely gesture of thanks to the people who assisted her with her project. Too many people take for granted what others do for them.

I have had to attend many evening and weekend events in the course of my job. When you’ve already worked a long day in professional attire, the prospect of heading off somewhere else all dressed up us is not always appealing when you really want to just relax. I have made myself do it anyway-if you have to be there, do it right. Keeping a change of clothes on hand and cosmetics has recharged me to go to evening functions.

I hope OP comes back to say “a good time was had by all there!” I’m sure she put enough effort into this event that the realtor’s attire did not ruin it.

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Rebecca October 2, 2013 at 10:28 pm

My first thought was, “Is this a party or a networking event?” BUT, the invitation did specify that it was a dressy event, and it was disrespectful to ask to show up in jeans and tee.

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hakayama October 2, 2013 at 10:55 pm

@gramma dishes: I am with you completely about being a helpful friend. Sometimes guys (yes, mainly guys ;_)) do need a bit of “mothering”.
That poor beginner in the R.E. field apparently was not observant enough as to realize that giving off an aura of success LEADS to success. In OP’s place, I would probably have yelled “NO!”, and briefly told the poor fellow that this was a top-notch opportunity for him to shine as a professional. If he was too tired to attend, then he should have just stayed home.
And, yes, EVERY party, EVERY meeting of the charity circle, EVERY chat with fellow playground parents can become “networking” situation.

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Isabella October 2, 2013 at 11:11 pm

I saw a wonderful billboard the other day which may be a good way to respond in the future – particularly in this instance “What you wear is your billboard. So, what are you advertising?”

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girl_with_all_the_yarn October 2, 2013 at 11:24 pm

Unfortunately it seems that this has become the norm. I had an experience where I was out of place by dressing appropriately!

I was in a ladies club (basically it was for female undergrad students at my college) and our group leader, who was a woman well out of college who acted like a mentor, sent out invitations to a formal dinner party. I put on my favorite little black dress and heels.

When I arrived, the host looked relieved to see me. She was as dressed up as I was. When I went into the living room, however, I discovered that literally every other girl in the group was in jeans and casual tops. One of them giggled and asked me why I was so dressed up. I was so stunned I blurted out the first thing I thought of (it should be noted that tact was not one of my strong suits back then). “Well,” I said, “it said on the invitation it was a formal dinner party.”

For other reasons, I left the organization soon after.

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Kimstu October 2, 2013 at 11:43 pm

@Kirst: “… the realtor was under no obligation to view the party as an advertising opportunity and was perfectly entitled to treat it as nothing but a social gathering and dress according to his view of appropriate clothing for a social event.”

Polite guests adapt their “view of appropriate clothing for a social event” to consider the express wishes of their hosts who have generously offered them hospitality at this social event. To accept the hosts’ hospitality while deliberately and selfishly disregarding their stated choices about the nature of the event is rude.

However, you are quite right to point out that the crucial issue here is NOT the casually-dressed realtor’s failure to “look professional” for his OWN career advantage. The crucial issue is that a “special snowflake” guest RUDELY whined to his gracious hostess about his unwillingness to go to the “trouble” of complying with her reasonable and clearly stated dress code. Whether or not his casual attire might have hurt his own business prospects is totally irrelevant.

If a host invited you to a party that was planned to involve playing board games or listening to a string quartet, you wouldn’t reply to them “I know the invitation says games/music, but I just want to hang out in your den and watch TV for that part of the party. Is that ok?” No, it’s NOT okay, and neither is asking to be excused from appropriate attire as specified by the host.

If an invitation specifies “board games” or “music” or “cocktail dress” or whatever, then that means that the specified thing is PART OF WHAT YOU’RE BEING INVITED TO. If somebody doesn’t like dressing up for parties, then they should POLITELY DECLINE INVITATIONS to parties where guests are requested to dress up. Simple as that.

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NostalgicGal October 3, 2013 at 1:59 am

Dress the part. Plain and simple. If the invite has a dress code, get out the garb and dress.

Unless I have a recently broken leg and can’t get into certain clothes, in which case I try as much as possible (okay it may be dark sweatpants with a missing leg and a neat hem, but, and a decent top and hair curled and all that). The fellow did only hurt himself if he showed up downdressed; this was a networking opportunity and he should have dressed the part. [you never know where you’ll make a connection, I once was having my foot sewn up in an ER, and the other end was handing out business cards to the nurses who were admiring the pin on my coat-my business was selling jewelry and accessories-and I did make some sales from a private showing after that incident!]

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Alie October 3, 2013 at 8:36 am

I don’t know, in principle I agree. If someone invites you over for a cocktail party, you should dress the part.

But something rubbed me the wrong way about this letter. I think either express that it’s not okay in the original message or let it roll off you later. You’re not going to be the one who is sticking out. Maybe I just have a laid back attitude, but I feel like there was too much stressing proportionate with the situation.

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Mae October 3, 2013 at 9:02 am

Just want to echo the congrats of pp who said what a lovely thing this was to do for those who has helped out with the renovations. Also, I think the realtor was rude to ask if he could dress down. I agree with @June First- if you did not respond, he could later claim you did not stress the importance of appropriate dress, even though the invite said cocktail attire.

I don’t think this is necessarily a new or generational issue. About 2o years ago, my sister’s first husband’s mother passed away. Her grandchildren and adult daughters showed up at the viewing in cut-off jeans, tank-top midriff shirts and flip flops. One was even barefooted! This particular funeral home also had a kitchen/refreshment type room with a few tables that guests or family could duck into and grab a soda and pack of crackers, etc. The grandchildren and adult daughters mentioned above brought in a bucket of chicken and wandered around the viewing room talking to guest while munching on chicken. Also, the deceased’s family had a gentleman with a prosthetic leg. At one point during the viewing, I had went outside for a bit of air and the gentleman was sitting on the front porch/entrance of the funeral home and had taken his prosthetic leg off. One of the grandchildren, who was about 12 or 13, took the man’s leg and wandered around the front lawn with it, pretending to make it walk.

That was the most bizarre …thing I had ever been to. I say “thing” because the behavior and dress of the grandchildren and the daughter’s took the focus off of remembering the deceased and placed it solely on the manner of which they were acting. My poor sister was mortified that her in-laws were so disrespectful.

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Vrinda October 3, 2013 at 9:19 am

Kirst, the OP sent out invitations stating that the party was a cocktail party, which means formal dress, and the friend knew that, otherwise he would not have asked at the last minute if he could come in a T-shirt and jeans. There are different types of parties, and casual wear is not the typical wear for all of them. He is showing disrespect for his host/hostess and the guests by showing up dressed casually for a formal event, and if the host specified a certain type of dress on the invitation, that is what he should wear. It wasn’t just a gathering of friends. These were all professionals who helped the OP fix up their house. They were all in similar industries, but may not have known each other or only certain people. Business talk would be inevitable, and you should put on a professional demeanor, which includes appearance. If his view of appropriate clothing for a social event which was described as a formal event on the invitation is T-shirt and jeans combo, that puts his common sense into question, as well as his ability to sell houses.

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Shalamar October 3, 2013 at 9:37 am

This reminds me of when “Casual Fridays” first started becoming popular back in the 80’s. My office decided to go with the flow, and predictably, we found out the hard way what some people’s ideas of “casual wear” was. My best work buddy showed up in sweatpants and a baggy t-shirt with a huge tomato sauce stain across the front, and when someone gently chided him, he said defensively “It’s CASUAL Day!”.

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Charliesmum October 3, 2013 at 11:09 am

Jazzgirl205 – I want to be invited to one of your parties! That sounds like so much fun, especially the Victorian games one. I may steal that idea some day.

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secretrebel October 3, 2013 at 11:12 am

I’m afraid the OP sounds rather controlling and too invested in the party being perfect. Maybe the Realtor friend just wanted to attend the party and didn’t feel the need to tout for business. Maybe he thought it was inappropriate to use a social setting to shill for clients. So the man wants to wear jeans – does that make the house any less nice or his services any less professional?

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JeanLouiseFinch October 3, 2013 at 3:46 pm

@Jazzgirl205 – Will you invite me to your next party? I’ll even dress up!
The OP was correct to be taken aback by her guest’s cluelessness. Unfortunately, this seems to be an all too common trend, especially (but not exclusively) among younger people. We are going on a vacation next week in which we will be staying at an all inclusive resort. The restaurants have dress codes. Although, we are taking some more dressy clothes, we fully expect to see some of the guests in jeans and a tee shirt (some of whom will be turned away at the door of the restaurant.) Although I rarely dress up at home, I was taught that it was a sign of respect for the host/hostess to dress up for parties. I would not have said anything to this young man though, as he sounds as if he really has no idea that what he did was a bad idea.

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sylviatexas October 3, 2013 at 5:30 pm

I’ve been a Realtor for 30 years, & this just floors me.

Normally we would pounce on the chance to dress up & make connections…

Is it possible that the Realtor friend was, say, taking kids to the zoo & they stayed too long & he just didn’t have time to change but didn’t want to say so?

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Jazzgirl205 October 3, 2013 at 5:57 pm

Thanks Charliesmum and JeanLouiseFinch. Sure, take my ideas as my gift and spread the joy. Presently, I live in Southern Appalachia and am studying the personality of the area to figure out which type of parties my new friends might enjoy. Up here, my army boots see more action than my lace pumps.

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