QUESTION: I was recently invited to a wedding reception in Oklahoma City. Attire for the event said “business casual.”
What does that mean?
For men: Slacks or jeans? And silk shirt and jacket, no tie? Golf shirt and jacket, no tie? Casual shirt and tie, jacket? Golf shirt, no tie, no jacket?
For women: Slacks and pretty blouse? Slacks or skirt with a jacket? Church dress? Tunic top and jeans?
What would you wear?
CALLIE'S ANSWER: No jeans! Men, the easiest bet is slacks and a button down. Add a tie if you feel like it, no coat necessary. What is a silk shirt? No man should have this in his closet: Way out of style! Women, I would wear a dress. Every woman should know it is better to be dressed up than it is to be dressed down.
LILLIE-BETH'S ANSWER: When I read the words “business casual” and “wedding” mixed up in the same sentence, I see two worlds colliding (office casual Fridays and formal wedding) to produce something that is a step down from formal wear and several steps up from dressing down at the office.
Business casual is an unusual choice of wording for a wedding invitation, but I think if you just keep dressy casual in mind, you should be fine.
As a woman, I don't think you would go wrong by going for a sophisticated casual look: a frilly dress with dressy sandals or even a cocktail dress, or dressy slacks and a jacket or a pretty blouse. It would be hard for me to wear jeans to a wedding no matter how informal the setting is. For men, a coat and tie or a jacket and polo or button-down shirt without a tie would be appropriate, but the men are answering this question, too. (Look for 20-40-60 Etiquette Extra: The Men Answer in The Oklahoman on Sunday).
Although you don't want to take it to the extreme, you would be better if you erred on the side of being too dressy in guessing what “business casual” meant rather than risk being underdressed when compared to the rest of the crowd.
HELEN'S ANSWER: My husband would probably choose a sports jacket, slacks and casual shirt, although he would call the host to find out whether a tie is in order.
You will see people dressed in their own idea of “business casual.” Some people think a nice shirt and slacks would be the way to go, while others think if it says “business” that a coat and tie is the dress code.
Women can take “business casual” to mean outfits that are businesslike but are not cocktail dresses. Since the host said “business,” I would also take that to mean that guests should take the professional approach.
GUEST'S ANSWER: Heather Warlick-Moore, Mood Publication editor: Business casual seems like a weird way to describe a dress code for a wedding! Generally, if the invitation says black-tie optional or cocktail attire, you know to break out the stilettos and party dress. It sounds like business casual means you can wear whatever you want as long as it's not jeans. I recommend a skirt and blouse with comfortable yet dressy heels. And for weddings, which are super special occasions, I think you're better off overdressing than underdressing, just as a way of showing that you are excited about the couple's special day and want to look great for them. Whatever you do, don't wear all white!
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