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s/o of "No ties, No jeans" -- "Dress to Impress!"

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gellchom:
Today we received an invitation to a bat mitzvah.  The Saturday night party is dinner and dancing at an event space.  The invitation says, "Dress to impress!"  What do you all think of that one?

I don't have to figure out what to wear, because we aren't going to attend.  But I thought of EHell immediately.

I'm sure the hosts thought that this was cute and breezy.  Maybe it is, but I don't like it.  I'm coming to your party to celebrate with you, not to try to impress people.  And it gives zero information about what guests are actually supposed to wear (and the venue is a really neutral one -- not like a party barn or public park pavillion on the one hand or fancy downtown hotel or country club on the other that would give a clue).  Probably they mean no super casual clothes and maybe no jeans, but after that, it really could mean anything from good dressy casual to blingy club wear to elegant party clothes; probably not long gowns and tuxedos.  But I'm just guessing.

I suppose that if I were going, I would ask the hosts "What are we wearing?"  But as that usually that just gets you, "Oh, just anything you like!!" (which people also seem to consider charmingly uncontrolling, ignoring the fact that someone is clearly trying to get some actual information and guidance from them so they can feel confident that they will be dressed properly), I'd be more likely just to wear something very simple that could span a wide range of dressiness (probably that's one reason little black dresses are so popular).  Too bad, because people might have fantastic outfits to wear that would be perfect, but they don't want to take the risk in case they are guessing wrong.

In my opinion, hosts aren't doing themselves any favors by having their parties start out with many of the guests feeling uncomfortable worrying that they are dressed too dressy or not dressy enough. 

WillyNilly:
This is why I collect cocktail purses and big statement necklaces.  Paired with a black cocktail dress (LBD) and a warm smile, its pretty much always appropriate.

I would think a NY Bat Mitzvah with a "dress to impress" dress code would be men in suits (not tuxes, but no open collars either, at least not for adult men) and women in cocktail dresses.

gellchom:
Here in Ohio, my guess would be at least one tick down from that -- few men in suits, some in sport jackets with ties, some with nice open shirts or sweaters (in fact, most of the men from my side of town would be in jackets, the men from the northeast suburbs in sweaters).  Women totally confused, some in party dresses, some in slacks and sweaters, some in between (e.g. LBD with statement necklace or dressy slacks and top with heels), many feeling "wrong."

It's easy enough to find something safe to wear that will be appropriate no matter what (those treasured outfits that my mom and I call our "uniforms.")  But it's nice to wear those more interesting outfits sometimes, too, and that's risky if the hosts aren't clear on the invitation.

Anyway, I don't much like the tone of the wording, which kind of brings to mind showing off and competing (how very un-midwestern! :)).  I'd use "dress to impress" for an article about how to dress for a job interview, but it's not something I'd say to my guests.

peaches:
I'm not crazy about it.

It sounds a bit like an admonishment to me (as though you wouldn't come nicely dressed if you weren't reminded).

I think people are in murky territory when they want to convey something less dressy than "cocktail attire", but not really casual. That's when these cutesy phrases come into play.

I've also seen the word Festive used for parties. This generally means to dress up, but nothing is specifically required or prohibited.

Probably the best thing to go by is how people usually dress for this kind of occasion where you live. 

Or ask the hosts for examples of what people will be wearing (and pin them down!).

Aeris:
Weren't you upset not too long ago about an invitation dress code that was too specific, and therefore offended you? Now this dress code is not specific enough, and therefore offends you? It seems quite difficult to get it just right.

I don't see the big deal. It sounds like it means 'fun party dresses'. I imagine the 7th graders involved have a sense of what it means, and a million years ago when I was in middle school the bar/bat mitzvah dress codes were definitely targeting the youngster invitees much more than the adults.

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