Cocktail Attire (or Vote On What My Wife Will Wear)

You read that right, folks: I need you to help The Wife and I figure out what she’s going to wear. Actually, you’re helping me decide what I’ll be wearing. Thing is I have to match her, so whatever she decides to wear will be what she ends up wearing. And this is where you come in.

This Friday we’re scheduled to be up in Tampa to attend my 10-year high school reunion, which is being held at some club somewhere in town. (Why they didn’t just have it at the school gym or something is beyond me. Heck, it was good enough for our dances, why isn’t it good enough for our reunion?) Last week, The Wife asked me what the dress was for the event. Being the avid observer of such things as details I responded in a way befitting only those with the utmost confidence in their fashion skills: “I dunno. Something nice. Semi-formal, I think.”

Needless to say this didn’t get the acclaim I so had hoped it would have.

I then went… I mean, a while later, I… Alright, alright: after two days of The Wife asking me what the dress code was, I was finally forcefully convinced by The Wife to actually take a look at the invitation (sent to us through MySpace; I can only guess others received mailings I did not). There the dress code was spelled out as being “Cocktail Attire.” Of course, this caused a bit of a panic.

I honestly didn’t understand what the big deal was until I found out that Cocktail Attire doesn’t just mean nice: It’s not like Formal or Semi-Formal. Cocktail Attire is its own thing, with its own set of convoluted rules and regulations for women to endlessly debate over. (Guys, on the other hand, simply look at whatever is most comfortable then add a jacket to it. Simple.) Here’s a synopsis I found on the Internet (which, despite statements to the contrary, is the true cause of and solution to all of life’s problems):

Cocktail Attire: Generally seen referring to social gatherings, and some fine dining

  • For men, cocktail attire means suit and tie, or coat and tie. Colors and fabrics may vary with the season or with the location of the event. (A cocktail party at a friend’s place would be a little less dressy than one held in a nice hotel.)
  • For women, cocktail attire is the cocktail-length dress. Hair and make-up should be appropriate to the time of day (typically early evening) and the color and fabric of the clothing will likely vary with the season and location of the event.

Unsurprisingly, Cocktail Attire is a fairly easy thing for a guy to do. For a lady… not so much. While all we guys have to worry is about our clothes, how we look, and how we smell, ladies have the much harder task of having to worry about competition or some other such thing, I don’t really know.

So after a week of looking and debating, of scouring the store racks for something fitting, The Wife (with the help of my mom) narrowed the options down to the following two very economical, family friendly sets. Note that I won’t get into much description because, frankly, I don’t know much about things like cloth material or shoe styles, so you’ll just have to work on what you see. I’ll offer up whatever notes I can.

The First: This set is a light color option made up of a simple summer dress with a shawl, matching shoes and purse. The shoes, dress, and shawl were all bought separately, so they don’t match exactly, but they’re certainly close enough. (If you can tell the difference, I applaud you.) I like the fact that the light color complements The Wife’s hair and skin tones rather nicely. The dress also does a fairly good job of showing off her figure without being temptingly revealing. The pictures include the front, back, and pattern. I don’t like the fact that the materials seem to not go together as well. (But seriously, what the hell do I know?)


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The Second: This set is the dark color option (navy blue). While they weren’t bought as a set, the fact that the shoes and dress are the exact same shade of blue makes one think so. I like the fact that this set matches beautifully, and looks therefore very complete and elegant with the right accents (shown). It looks much more dressy to me. This may (and likely will) also be accompanied by a white shawl to cover the shoulders, which should match the fabric of the dress much better than in the previous option. I don’t like the fact that this dress tends to dampen some of her more, how you say, enticing features? Maybe it’s the colors, maybe it’s the cut: I don’t really know. I suggested a white belt or bow (whatever you put around the waist) would complete the set very nicely. (But again, what the hell do I know?)


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So here’s the deal: if you select the beige dress, I’ll likely go with a light pair of dress pants (beige) and either a light blue or white dress shirt. (I don’t have a jacket that’ll match that, so that will have to do.) If you select the blue dress, I’ll likely go with a pair of navy blue pants (which would match the dress beautifully), a white dress shirt, and a matching navy blue blazer.

While in the end you won’t have the final vote (sorry, but that’s reserved for The Wife), you do have a strong say in it, since she can’t quite decide right now what she’ll wear. Also, if you have any suggestions (and I know for a fact some of you are champions of the fabric and can guide me better than I could imagine) feel free to make them here. Finally, don’t be afraid to ask any questions: I probably haven’t given anywhere near enough information.