Dress Etiquette – Where, Oh Where Has It Gone?

A really good friend of mine is getting married. In the midst of the initial stages of planning, she has decided she wants it to be special and classy. Most people in this situation are aiming for the same. My friend’s thinking? “If anyone comes to my wedding wearing sweats, shorts or jeans, I might actually kick them out.” I don’t blame her. Unless it is specified on the invitation that it’s allowed, no one wants pictures of their distant relative wearing tight bike shorts to be forever saved on film or in the minds of their guests. As such, conversation has, on occasion, turned to the current state of affairs when it comes to dress etiquette at weddings, parties and the office.

We live in Edmonton, a city in the middle of the northern Canadian prairies. Our history is that of the farmer and oil, so maybe you can understand why casual is common here. But, speaking with my parents, there was a certain dress code back when they were young entrepreneurs. Going to a restaurant in the downtown core? You wore your best outfit. Going to the theatre or the symphony? It’s not an everyday occurance, so put on your dress and heels or a suit and tie and paint the town!

It seems that those days have come and gone. People feel comfortable ambling into work in their gym clothes or attending a business function in their casual Friday wear or seeing a play donned in a hoodie or going to a family member’s wedding dressed in jeans and socks with sandals.

Visible butt cheeks and too tight shorts? Don’t.

What ever happened to dress etiquette?

I’m not saying that everyone is this way. There are many people in my city that take their style up a notch every day. Thank you for that. Appearance isn’t always  everything, but in situations like these, dressing for the occasion is a form of respect. Taking pride in your appearance boosts your esteem, too. Who has ever walked out of the house thinking ‘I look amazing in this ratty t-shirt, baggy sweatpants and my pair of Crocs? I’m going guess and say no one. But think about any time you have put in just an iota of effort in the way you look and what you wear. When you look good, you can feel the confidence build up in yourself. People you work with, your friends and family, even strangers on the street will notice.

So, next time you step into your closet, think about how you want to be perceived by others. Remember, be it your regular work day or a job interview or one of your best friend’s weddings, adhering to some sort of dress etiquette is for everyones’ benefit.

You look splendid! No doubts about inviting this couple.

What’s your opinion on the subject of dress etiquette? Do you think it’s necessary? Or do you wish you could wear Lululemon clothes everywhere?

Photo Sources: Fashiondonts.com and A Day to Remember Wedding Consultants & Coordinators

7 thoughts on “Dress Etiquette – Where, Oh Where Has It Gone?

  1. I couldn’t have said it better myself! It’s a shame that we’ve become so casual. Getting dressed up for a special night should be a rewarding experience, not a chore or annoyance. As you said, you’re disrespecting your host (or venue, or business) by showing up in your best pair of Lululemon pants and hoodie.

  2. It’s funny, my colleagues and I were having a similar conversation at work this week. It’s getting hot in Toronto and everyone is pulling out their summer clothes. At our office, we can wear dressy capris during the week and jeans on Fridays. But are jean capris acceptable? Are they too casual? Does it matter if you work behind the scenes and never see a customer?

    In my opinion, you should look appropriate for the setting while being comfortable. Dressing well is only part of the package. Great new blog, by the way!

    • Hilary, thanks for the comment! It is certainly a topic that most people have an opinion on. I come from an office that, to my knowledge, doesn’t even have a dress code. To that end, I completely understand why some people think it’s okay to come to work dressed extremely casually. Even when someone is behind the scenes, you never know who might cross your path. What if a client is passing through? They might view the way people dress in that office as completely unprofessional.

      Looking appropriate for the situation is something to always take into account. And, of course, that’s dependent upon age, occupation, etc.

  3. Well, I have to confess that I’ve left the house for the grocery store and hoped I wouldn’t meet anyone I know. That confession out of the way, I agree that collectively, we’ve forgotten that dressing for an occasion is part of what makes it special. My dad used to come off the field, wash up and change into a sports coat and tie ensemble to go to a community meeting. It was a sign of respect for oneself and for his fellow meeting goers. About a dozen years ago I was going with a cabinet minister to a community dinner in rural Alberta where he was to speak and cautioned him not to dress casual but he wore a sweater and slacks instead of jacket and tie and he was the only one there without one. So it’s not so much an urban split, but it may be generational.

    I find that a lot of teenage girls overdress and the guys severely underdress. As the mom of two young men in that category, I have to say it isn’t easy getting them to up their game but at least they know that pj pants are never appropriate out of the house 🙂

    • Judith, thanks for the input. I will confess that I have also left the house knowing I’ve been a bit lazy (though, let it be known, I don’t even own any sweatpants!). I have even left the house thinking I look great to find out later that wasn’t the case. No one is perfect!

      As I mentioned in my response to Hilary, the way people dress is very much dictated by how old they are and what they do. Like general etiquette, dress etiquette is important and I wish it was taught to everyone (required school course, anyone?). Alas, it isn’t so. But, thank you for making sure that your sons know pajama pants in public are never okay!

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