Saturday, November 22, 2008

The Meaning of Semi-Formal

This evening I attended a party celebrating a very good friend's 50th birthday. I had been excited to go, not only because I love my friend dearly, but the invitation stated that dress was to be semi-formal. A chance to get dressed up! Yay!

Knowing this, I wore my LBD and dressy heels. The birthday girl wore a beautiful full length black dress. There were several other full-length dresses, a pretty velvet knee-length worn with dressy boots, and a smart black pantsuit with heels. A few of the men wore suits. The rest of the attendees...well...were not so dressed up.

It was interesting to see the wide variety in the interpretation of "semi-formal". Sneakers, turtlenecks and winter sweaters, cords, khakis, and even flip-flops made an appearance. The party ended up being a really good time, and my friend was the true Queen of the evening...but I could tell she was somewhat disappointed that not everyone chose to dress for the occasion. Her vision had been for a much fancier affair than actually manifested. However, classy lady that she is, she said not a word about it.

I was slightly puzzled that not everyone had chosen to heed the request for semi-formal dress. If you are invited to an occasion, it seems only right and proper to dress in the manner requested. Maybe I'm just old-fashioned that way.

And then I began to people even know what semi-formal attire is? Or perhaps maybe I was wrong in my understanding of the term.

So I did a little research online, and here is what I discovered:

According to WikiAnswers, women should wear a dress, pant suit or dress suit in silk, velvet, rayon, cashmere, high quality polyester brocades, or velour. Dress heels, dress flats, or strappy sandals are the appropriate footwear. For men, a full suit and a tie is expected. Not wanting to rely on just one source, I checked out a few more. Except for a few small changes in wording, the definitions I found were nearly identical to the one at WikiAnswers.

So how can this help you? When putting together your dressy capsule, think about finding something that will be suitable for a semi-formal event. Opt for the dressier fabrics, but choose an outfit that can also be dressed down some for a less formal affair. That way you will have something appropriate to wear no matter what the occasion calls for.

See you next time...same blog time...same blog channel....

(For more information on wardrobe planning, or to sign up for my free e-zine, please visit my wardrobe planning website.)


Lisa M. McLellan said...

Sounds like so much fun. I love having an opportunity to get dressed up. My wedding invitations said "black tie invited" and there were actually a couple of people in jeans just like at your event. Yikes.

Michael said...

Hi, I thought sneakers at a semi formal event was a so Cal thing. Not what I would expect back east.

Matthew Shields said...

Hi , Jenn
So now from the definition you stated that women should ware rayon dresses, do they make those anymore? I remember having rayon shirts back in the 90’s, I’m glad those days are over
Happy Trails
Matthew Shields
Energy Expert
Anything Solar

Romance Coach, Online Dating Coach said...

Hi Jenn,

I know I grew up in the upper-middle class when I actually know about thes things as comfortably as wearing jeans and a tshirt.

Semi-formal ALSO entail dinner before I think it 7:30 or 8 pm. I do NOT recall the precise hour (I get rusty at these things living in the suburbs of CA now).

Semi-formal for a man entails suit and tie OR an evening jacket aka a tux.

Formal wear is TAILS and a BALL GOWN. Now, ball gowns can be short because of fashion.

Coffee/Tea/Cocktail soiree
Coffee/Tea as a SOCIAL event, not a Starbucks swing by
Silk suits or dresses for women. Cocktail dresses.
well, at least not officially. In our current age, as a CEO she has more leeway to wear a biz suit if she so chooses.

There is even a skirt length for bridesmaids dresses which is mid-lower calf which is known as "tea-length".

The SF Opera Gala vs the Symphony gala, it's been a few years, so it may have changed again.

but it used to be that the Opera's gala, the Dinner was served AFTER the performance ensuring that the occasion was then absolutely FORMAL. (Tails, ball gowns)

The Symphony, din dins before the performance - ergo Semi-formal.

I LOVE how you stick to your primary focus here and advise on wardrobe and style and leave the shopping to us or directly to your paying clients. Jenn, I really completely understand that you are a business woman and simply of course when I want that one-on-one personal shopper experience that I can acquire that as your client.

With my Weight Loss Surgery, once my weight stable for 6 months, I will be waving my cash in hand to so do!

And btw, it looks like I have new BF and he is a gentleman AND very masculine protective (military, gotta love it!). I tell him what I am having at the meal and HE orders the meal. (and gets my door) Part of him is edgy New Wave, and part of him is this protective old-school gentleman.


2 wks. I managed to stay completely single and play for 2 wks. Not that he is OFFICIALLY my BF, but we are edging over that way. slowly...

All the best,

April Braswell

Online Dating Expert, Romantic Relationship Coach, Romance Coaching

Online Dating Sites Review, Internet Dating Sites Guide

Philip Graves said...

Thanks for the clarification - I knew it would be worth checking your post.


JohnWShoemaker said...

I have to laugh a little at this.

So many people don't know what anything I think if a hostess wants the people to understand what is meant by "semiformal" she needs to send along an instruction booklet???"

In NYC so many hostesses have been trying to outdo each other with clever and distinctive "what to wear" codes they just ended up confusing everybody and have now gone back to the old Miss Manners style basics.

Intuitive John

David J Parnell said...

Very practical... It is nice to know that there is an actual definition for it.

David J. Parnell | Communication Expert
The Communication Expert Blog

Lena Milukh said...

Could never thought that smb can use sneakers and flip-flops as a semi-formal wear.:-)
Improving Communication in Business and Personal life

body language blog

Cindy Eyanson said...

Nice to know the real meaning. I am glad you love it... dressing up creates such stress in my life, need you for that. When I can walk into a store and buy off the rack.. I think it will be different... that when is coming.
Sounds like you had fun...!
Cindy Eyanson Online

Mary said...

I think I would have been just as surprised to find people wearing floor length gowns to a semi-formal event as to find those wearing jeans!

S Chambers said...

The well stocked wardrobe should include items that allow you to dress for the entire range of occasions, from casual (usually easily covered by most people) up to formal, with the possible exception of a tuxedo.

I hope you had fun. I love events like that.

Influence Tactics

Darryl Pace said...

Whew! What I thought was semi-formal for men was correct, according to the Wiki definition.

Also, I've always thought that formal attire for men was a tuxedo. Is that correct?

Darryl Pace

Romance Coach, Online Dating Coach said...

Hi Jenn,

I just HAD to bop over here today to let you know that I even THREW OUT glittery slippers where the heels were too worn out.

To make room for my soon to be SIL's wedding gown in my closets, I actually have added SEVERAL more items to my

going to Goodwill or the Junior League Charity Shop bags.

I KNEW you would be SO proud of me.

I brought this up over HERE at THIS post on "The Meaning of Semi-Formal" because I ALSO pulled several dresses, including my evening wear, more formal material dresses. I will be going through them, and releasing a few MORE to be worn and loved by OTHERs as well.

There will be at least 5 BAGS to go OUT tomorrow.

Here I am officially making that commitment to jettison OUT tomorrow.

All the best,

April Braswell

Online Dating Coach, Relationship Coach, Dating Expert

Online Dating Sites Review, Internet Dating Sites Guide