Author Topic: Dress code inquiry -- or is it?  (Read 2475 times)

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lowspark

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Re: Dress code inquiry -- or is it?
« Reply #30 on: July 09, 2014, 04:53:12 PM »
The daughter of a friend of mine got married last year and the invitation said "black tie". I immediately thought, tux & long dress. Of course, neither my husband nor I own those clothes so I called a mutual friend who I figured would know. I didn't want to call the friend right away because I didn't want to sound, well, as if I were complaining! So exactly!

Anyway, the other friend did have the scoop, she said, men could wear suits and women didn't need long dresses but that (in her words) "black tie is the new way of saying for men to wear suits and women to wear a dress".  :-\ I dunno!

Now, if I'd had to go out and purchase/rent the clothes, I'd have done so. I might have grumbled to mutual friend, but to MOB I'd not have said a word! So I agree that your SIL's wording definitely comes off as whiny and critical. I can sympathize about her concern for the cost, but what I can't sympathize with is her throwing that tidbit of information your way.

So yeah, fine to ask, "did you really mean tux & long dress or are dark suit and short dress ok?" but not ok to say "cuz if you mean tux & long dress, it means we have to spend money we didn't want to spend."

TootsNYC

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Re: Dress code inquiry -- or is it?
« Reply #31 on: July 09, 2014, 05:16:19 PM »
I wonder for what sort of event she would be willing to deal with tux and long gown?

gellchom

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Re: Dress code inquiry -- or is it?
« Reply #32 on: July 09, 2014, 05:38:05 PM »
I wonder for what sort of event she would be willing to deal with tux and long gown?
That is a good question. I personally would always try to hit the upper end of the range for a close relative's or close friend's wedding, just as I would be more willing to rent a costume, go to an exotic destination, or whatever.  I would think that that would be the case for most people. So maybe part of my reaction is a sneaking feeling that part of the subtext is to tell us she doesn't consider this wedding very important to her.

Her son (whom I adore) cannot attend, because he will be his best friend's best man the same day. I wonder if he will be wearing a tuxedo. :-)

LtPowers

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Re: Dress code inquiry -- or is it?
« Reply #33 on: July 10, 2014, 02:38:30 PM »
For the record, Miss Manners says: "Hosts sympathetic with an inability to comply need not advertise this, as it should be assumed that dressing one degree down — black tie for white, a black business suit for black tie — would not attract violent attention from a bouncer."  To me, that merely indicates that doing so is a forgivable offense and should not be read as incorporating business suits into the "black tie" definition.


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gellchom

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Re: Dress code inquiry -- or is it?
« Reply #34 on: July 10, 2014, 03:49:03 PM »
In her "Guide to Excruciatingly Correct Behavior," she puts it like this:

"As for the black-tie evening wedding, all adult men at it ... wear the same clothes, although guests can also get away with dark business suits."

Neither iteration is quite clear about whether she considers it marginally "correct" or just forgivable.  But I guess it pretty much amounts to the same thing.

I just looked at Emily Post.  It says tuxedos, period, for men, but gives women the choice of long dresses, dressy cocktail dresses, and "'your dressiest little black dress.'"

lollylegs

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Re: Dress code inquiry -- or is it?
« Reply #35 on: July 12, 2014, 07:44:51 AM »
I think it's a little unfair of you to accuse your sister in law of PA behaviour simply because she didn't word the query the way you would have liked. Just sounds like awkward wording to me, which is easily done with email.

peaches

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Re: Dress code inquiry -- or is it?
« Reply #36 on: July 12, 2014, 09:58:34 AM »
Miss Manners makes a good point, and I agree with her.

I think it's fine to specify "black tie" on a wedding invitation, as long as you realize that it's a suggestion and not an absolute requirement. (I mean, how would you enforce such a thing?)

Around here tuxedo rental costs between $100 - $200. Excepting the wedding party, few people will spend that amount if they have a perfectly good dark suit in the closet. (If they don’t, renting a tux can make good sense.) 

It seems only fair that men should have a little wiggle room in this. Women have some latitude when it comes to dressing for a black tie affair. They can choose either a long gown or a short cocktail style dress.

A few years ago, a cousin of DH’s had a wedding and the invitation said “black tie.” My MIL called to clarity that what the young couple really meant was “no jeans”!  They just wanted people to look presentable and were afraid to leave their friends to their own devices.

gellchom

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Re: Dress code inquiry -- or is it?
« Reply #37 on: July 12, 2014, 03:17:55 PM »
Miss Manners makes a good point, and I agree with her.

I think it's fine to specify "black tie" on a wedding invitation, as long as you realize that it's a suggestion and not an absolute requirement. (I mean, how would you enforce such a thing?)

I agree that it's not an absolute requirement.  I also agree with Toots that most people know that, or can very easily learn it, including that the "wiggle room" is already built into the standards, as discussed above.

At the same time, though, I disagree that "black tie" is just a "suggestion."  It's still a dress code, notwithstanding that one level down is not considered rude.  There is a lot of space between "absolute requirement" and "suggestion."

My personal minimum, when I'm deciding what to wear even for "black tie optional," is that it must be dressy, party, evening wear; party shoes, evening bag, jewelry.  If I could wear it during the day without looking overdressed, then no.  Often, dressy or glam accessories can do the job with a simple dress or skirt -- great trick for travel.

Mental Magpie

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Re: Dress code inquiry -- or is it?
« Reply #38 on: July 12, 2014, 04:54:04 PM »
I think it's a little unfair of you to accuse your sister in law of PA behaviour simply because she didn't word the query the way you would have liked. Just sounds like awkward wording to me, which is easily done with email.

It would be different if she didn't know her SIL was capable of these things and has done them with some frequency before.  If this was an otherwise always reasonable person, I don't think OP would be interpreting it this way.  Background does matter.
The problem with choosing the lesser of two evils is that you're still choosing evil.

TootsNYC

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Re: Dress code inquiry -- or is it?
« Reply #39 on: July 12, 2014, 05:09:34 PM »
I think even if it was someone with no background, the "we all have to go buy new clothes" is not a neutral thing to put in that sort of an email.


Ceallach

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Re: Dress code inquiry -- or is it?
« Reply #40 on: July 13, 2014, 01:16:31 AM »
I think it's a little unfair of you to accuse your sister in law of PA behaviour simply because she didn't word the query the way you would have liked. Just sounds like awkward wording to me, which is easily done with email.

Words have meaning, they are rarely chosen by accident.   Even if it's subconscious they reflect how we feel or what we are thinking.   Many of us quite quickly saw the issues in the way the message was worded and what the tone conveyed.   

Tone and subtext in writing are very relevant - we see that everyday here on eHell and other internet forums.  And people do get called out for the way they say things if the way they say things comes across as PA or rude.   
"Nobody can do everything, but everybody can do something"


lowspark

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Re: Dress code inquiry -- or is it?
« Reply #41 on: July 14, 2014, 08:34:06 AM »
I agree with all three PPs, Mental Magpie, TootsNYC, and Ceallach.
History matters and gellchom has elaborated on that history enough that we can get a feel for how their relationship plays out. And yes, words have meaning too. It's one thing to ask the host to clarify something, it's a whole different thing to complain to the host about spending the money to attend the party. 

peaches

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Re: Dress code inquiry -- or is it?
« Reply #42 on: July 14, 2014, 09:48:14 AM »
The sister's message does sound peevish.

Plus, it's unnecessary, as they have clothes from the last wedding that would work for this one.

Gellchom's response is Excruciatingly Gracious.   :)

gellchom

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Re: Dress code inquiry -- or is it?
« Reply #43 on: July 14, 2014, 01:57:51 PM »
Thanks, peaches!  I am Exceptionally Grateful. :)

It comes down to the difference between clarifying what to wear (preferably while showing some enthusiasm for the wedding) and making it clear that what you're thinking is "We really want to do the minimum we can get away with."  Even if your circumstances are such that you have to do the minimum, or even if you just want to, it's just not a nice thing to make a point of telling someone who has invited you to a very important event in their lives -- especially someone as close as your own brother.  DH doesn't dwell on it, but I'm sure he felt like his sister was complaining, criticizing, and distancing herself.  That can't be fun for him.