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.