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Grooming:Choose the right outfit for an event

The festive season draws nigh, bringing with it many an awards ceremony, wedding and various cocktail parties.

Column by Heather R

To date I have attended two awards ceremonies and each time I take note of the various choices of outfits.

At the Victor’s awards, it became very apparent to me that people do not quite understand the various dress code requirements for different occasions. Some of the guests attended in jeans while other ladies just donned the two-piece suits they had spent the day in.

For a moment, my friend and I felt over-dressed as we walked through the parking lot. We quickly shook off that feeling because we realised that we had understood the dress code.

As I continued to look around, I wondered to myself, and out loud sometimes, what the reasons for some of the outfit choices were. I came up with a few reasons of my own:

No time to go home and change;
Lack of understanding of the dress code;
Indifference.

Formal, also known as black tie
When you come across this dress code, think of the Oscar awards or Golden Globe awards; basically, any red carpet event.
So, that would be long evening dresses or gowns for ladies and the traditional tuxedo for the men, colloquially known as the “Penguin suit”.

Men wear a black tuxedo, white dress shirt, black bowtie, black cummerbund [band worn around the waist], black dress socks and highly polished leather shoes or patent leather shoes (in Zimbabwe, these were previously called “glass shoes”).
Silver or gold ties or coloured bowties and cummerbunds may be worn to add flair to the traditional tuxedo.

Dressing for weddings
There are definite no-no’s for wedding attire:

  • Jeans
  •  T-Shirts
  •  Sneakers
  •  Flip-flops
  • lCaps (even if you are outside and it is hot). Ladies, feel free to wear those beautiful couture hats.

Sometimes the wedding invitation will not specify a dress code, so it is safest to dress semi-formally.

If it is a daytime wedding (before 6pm):
A pretty daytime dress or tailored suit for her and a business suit, dress shirt and tie for him.

He could also wear dress slacks, a blazer, dress shirt and tie. Formal attire during the day is usually just for the wedding party.

Ladies could change into black for the reception and wear pastels before 6pm if it is a day into night wedding. Some women prefer to change from day to night outfits.

If you are attending a religious wedding, you may need to bring a shoulder wrap along as some religions may not be alright with you baring your shoulders.

Most weddings start during the day and most people dress once and for all, so you may choose the dress you would wear in the evening seeing as you are bound to spend more time at the reception than at the ceremony.

If it is an evening wedding (after 6pm):
Ladies may wear dinner suits, cocktail dresses or dressy evening two-piece outfits, for example, skirt and corset.
Black is suitable for evenings, after 6pm. Men wear dark suits or dinner jackets with dress trousers.

If the wedding invitation says casual:
Some decorum and respect will need to be exercised. A dress for her and pants and shirt for him will suffice while respectful to the bride and groom.

Adhere to the host’s theme

Cocktail party code
Simply put, it means dark suits for men and short, elegant dresses or dressy pant suits for the ladies. Men, the tie is not a must.

Themed events
Sometimes a host may decide to theme their parties, like “The White Party”, in which case everyone will be expected to wear white from head to toe. Or “The Rock and Roll Party”, where guests will be required to wear attire that is representative of rock and roll. You would look for leather, and studded items of clothing with wild hair.

Whatever the dress code, it is only respectful to the host that one adheres to it. Hosts, be sure to give as much detail as possible to your guests, for instance, if it is an outdoor event, so they dress appropriately.

Ladies, you will never go wrong with a well-tailored black cocktail dress and men with a well-tailored black suit.

Both of these can be changed around to look different.

I personally prefer to wear dresses to any function that requires dressing up.

Nothing says lady like a beautiful dress that fits perfectly.

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