Friday, May 28, 2010

In Which I Ruminate On The Cruel Vagaries Of Invitational Events

Mrs. Little Hunting Creek has recently been posting about a topic that's close to my (tiny, hardened, cynical) heart: Are We Dressing Too Casually These Days?  At the end of one of her last posts she states:

"If you want to make a grown woman cry, just tell her she is invited to a daytime wedding and put semi-formal on the invite and then drop the news that it's outside. Or a beach wedding - what on earth would you wear to that?"

I can one-up her on that.  What's worse than an invitation to a semi-formal garden beach wedding? An invitation that tells you nothing about what to wear.

At this very moment sitting on my desk is a wedding invitation with NO indication of what type of clothes we should wear. It says, "Ceremony at xx in the afternoon, reception at such-and-such location to follow".

An afternoon wedding with a reception.  This is what we’re told.


I guarantee you, if I wear something "semi-formal", everyone else will be in jeans.  If a wear a nice-but-casual summer dress, everyone else will be in tuxedos and cocktail dresses.   Situations like this always remind me of an episode of "Bewitched" that is permanently lodged in my synapses.

No, seriously.  "Bewitched".  Starring the disgustingly cute Elizabeth Montgomery (and I believe the Second Darrin).

Aha.  Due to the wonders of Google, I now know it's Episode 126. In this episode, Samantha is tormented by Darrin's one-upping ex-fiancé, who in the past has caught out our poor heroine by inviting them to a dinner party.  The problem?  When the casually dressed Stephens arrive at the party, they discover that everyone else is in evening clothes.


Not to be outdone the next time, the Stephens wear their best dress-up clothes. Only to find that everyone else is dressed for a barbeque.


This is clearly a visceral piece of social indoctrination, as this particular episode has stuck with me, burned into the brain as it were, since I was about 7 years old.  The horror of wearing the Wrong Thing.

That's exactly what would happen at this wedding (were I to bother attending).   Minus the satisfaction of bewitching the obnoxious hostess and causing her wig to run off with the dog, unfortunately.

You can watch Episode 126 on YouTube (of course).


  1. Ok, so I'm supposed to be here for the sewing talk, but I find myself caught up in the pop culture. I LOVE Bewitched. Too young to see it first time round, but it used to be on TV here in the UK in the 70s and then was repeated (the WHOLE thing, every series) on C4 about 10 years ago.

    So no, that one was still the original Darren. And I remember that episode. I loved her clothes. I still haven't got over not developing magic powers as I grew up. (Tomorrow People, anyone?)

    Thanks for another cool reminder.

    No help from me on the wedding thing, my version of fancy is everyone else's smart/casual. I don't do 'cocktail', not even terribly sure what that is. I'm allergic to bling. So wear what you want. Or don't go, as you want!

    That said, I do think most people today could make a bit more of an effort. I went to the ballet at our (small) Theatre Royal once and there were people there in jeans. Makes me come over all maiden aunt "young people today"!


  2. We have all experienced the horror of showing up too dressed up! Also, I love Bewitched :)

  3. We attended an afternoon event yesterday that was supposed to be "casual". I sort of dressed "middle of the road" because, as it turns out I guessed correctly, there were people dressed in jeans, others were dressed in dressy dresses, etc... It is frustrating to not know what to wear to events like this!

  4. Go the (potentially) overdressed route. If everyone else is casually dressed, you could make up some story about another fabulous event that you had been to prior, or were going to after.... in other words, LIE! Or, you know, just don't go...

    Big in Japan

  5. Love, love, love Betwitched. Samantha was charming wasn't she?

    I don't have the answers at all. My sister once yelled at me for wearing a skirt and heels to a fancy brunch and very nice historic hotel on my birthday. She thought stretch pants and an oversized sweater was appropriate. I would never dress like her and was quite comfortable in what I was wearing - which is more important. g

  6. Wow, that's the first time I've ever heard of anyone getting chewed out for over-dressing to something like that. Too funny! Just goes to show: it's impossible.

  7. Gosh, I had an afternoon wedding, with a dinner/reception...and never put any sort of dress code on the invites. I've never gotten a wedding invite with one either. We usually went by where the location is, and by the couple. For example, the couple getting married on the lawn of their cottage got a different outfit than the ones in the Orthodox Ukranian Church.
    A walk through a mall will show the differences between casual and dressed up and over dressed. But you know, if dressed up to you is heels with your yoga pants, then you'd be more comfortable there than if you dressed by what the media/fashion industry says is dressed up.

  8. I feel you. I NEED a dress code, peeps! It messes with my mind otherwise. And that's messed up enough! Haha.

  9. Ahhh... but to repsond to TracyKM's remark: you have to KNOW the couple and/or the location to use this method. Neither of which I did. Not especially. The invitations were basic cream paper and gold lettering. The couple in question was my employer's daughter (so I don't really know them personally) and the location of the cermeony and reception were both at totally non-descript places (one their church, which I know nothing about) and the other at a generic event center. So is their theme "rodeo" (which is possible) or "red carpet" (not as likely but hell, it's a wedding, anything is possible)? Not one clue.


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