20-40-60 Etiquette: Deciphering party dress codes

20-40-60 Etiquette: When party planners go ‘festive casual' or ‘elegant casual' on the invitation, what do I wear?
by Helen Ford Wallace and Lillie-Beth Brinkman Published: December 30, 2012
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QUESTION: Which party dress codes (e.g. semiformal, after-5) stump you the most?” Is there a uniform look that covers all bases?

CALLIE'S ANSWER: You can never go wrong with a LBD (little black dress). Always remember if you don't know what to wear, it is better to be overdressed than underdressed!

LILLIE-BETH'S ANSWER: Whatever the wording on the invitation that is stumping you, call the hostess to get a better feel for what she's wearing and what she expects. Then, decide if you want to look in your closet for the perfect thing to wear or go shopping for something that works. Often these days, you can't go wrong with a dressy pantsuit with a festive top or a cocktail dress and heels.

HELEN'S ANSWER: “Festive casual” is the one that is hard for me. Am I supposed to wear sequined leggings, bows all over my blouse? However, it seems like festive attire should be less dressy than cocktail attire and a little more dressy than casual and work attire.

Really, the best thing to do when you are stumped is to call the hostess for further instruction unless you want to interpret the party code yourself and wear whatever works for you at the time. A good uniform seems to be black slacks and a “festive” top. Just have a great time at the party! Happy New Year!

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by Helen Ford Wallace
Society Editor
Helen Ford Wallace is a columnist covering society-related events/news for The Oklahoman. She puts local parties online with daily updates. She creates, maintains and runs a Parties blog which includes web casts. She is an online web editor for...
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by Lillie-Beth Brinkman
Lillie-Beth Brinkman is a Content Marketing Manager for the Greater Oklahoma City Chamber of Commerce. She was previously an assistant editor of The Oklahoman
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