The 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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?