We’re in the thick of summer and there is a wide range of events happening. There are limitless sports activities, boating during SeaFair, charity events, parties, political gatherings, and networking to name a few. No matter what the event, there is simple formula you can use to make sure you are dressed appropriately. Your presentation can either support or detract the message you’re sending to others.
There are three questions that you need to ask whenever you get invited to an event:
- Where? What is the venue? Is it indoors or outdoors? Is there a theme (carnival, garden party, BBQ, formal dinner)? Is it on a deck, a lawn or something else that is not high heel friendly?
- Who? What are the demographics of the group? Young/old. Trendy/nerdy. Conservative, etc.
- When? What time of day is the event?
Once you have those three questions answered, you can safely figure out the dress code. First, find out about the venue. It should fit into one of five categories: casual, business casual, business, cocktail or formal. Next, find out who is attending this function. Think about the age ranges, if they are conservative dressers, their occupation/aspiration, etc. For example, if you are going to a church function, you probably don’t want to wear a low-cut dress. At the other extreme, if you’re going to a BBQ with a bunch of techies, you definitely don’t want to wear a suit.
Lastly, consider the time of day. On the weekends, the day time is usually casual or business casual. The evenings are dressier. For the work week, if the event is during business hours, the attire is usually business or business casual. If the event is after work, either business clothes or business-to-evening clothing usually works. If you don’t have time to change after work, you can wear a dress with a blazer during the day. Before the evening event, take off the blazer, change your jewelry, touch up your makeup, and change your shoes. This process takes less than 10 minutes and the “change” can fit into a small bag, so you really don’t have any excuses.
The bottom line is to know your own personal style and figure out what casual, business casual, business, cocktail or formal means to you. If you ask the three questions above, you can figure out the category and insert the right outfit every time.