What To Do If You’re Woefully Underdressed

tumblr_m6v9saBuT61qmgz9uo1_500The other weekend, I went to a beautiful wedding of two close friends where the website clearly indicated “semi-formal” (aka cocktail attire, dressy, or black-tie optional) as the dress code. Everyone looked pretty great. However, at one point a number of us seemed to distinctly notice one guest who had shown up in an untucked button down shirt, shorts, and a backwards baseball cap. Of course it couldn’t distract from the amazing ceremony and reception, but for a while before things got rolling, our section of seats was a little distracted and surprised.

This guy seemed to have no clue that he was dressed a bit inappropriately (he didn’t even take his hat off for the ceremony!), but it happens to the best of us–you misread a situation and show up dressed completely wrong. Here are a few steps you can take to remedy the situation.

  1. Apologize! Make it clear that you too see how you’re dressed, and that you realize it’s wrong. You don’t need to be groveling to everyone all night, but a quick “Oh my god, I didn’t realize I needed a tie!” to the host will smooth things over greatly.
  2. Work with what you have. Take off your hat and tuck in your shirt. See if you can borrow lipstick from someone, or if you have a pretty pair of earrings at the bottom of your purse. The venue you’re at might have a lost-and-found with a spare sport jacket in it, or maybe you can run home quickly and change into pants.
  3. Don’t make yourself the center of attention. Okay, so at this wedding, the guy sat in the SECOND ROW. Don’t do that. If it’s a wedding or some other thing with seats, sit yourself in the back so you’re not in every single photo in your dumb hat.
  4. Be extra polite otherwise. Make up for your fashion faux-pas with impeccable manners elsewhere. Offer to grab people drinks, introduce yourself with a firm handshake. In general just be so charming that people forget you’re wearing shorts. That’s not too hard, right?
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