Friday, October 3, 2008

What the hell is "business attire"?

So, tonight Torsten and I are going to this work shindig thing that one of his clients is hosting in a swanky, expensive venue. It's the first work event of his that I'll be attending other than the office Christmas party, which doesn't really count. There will be fancy food and I've been promised that everyone will be drunk on their asses by the end of the night.

The whole thing makes me feel like such a grownup. It's not going to be swanky, necessarily, but rubbing elbows with my fiance's clients and generally standing around trying to be polished while sipping wine and chatting maturely with business people just seems like such an adult thing to do.

And on that note, I need your help. Again. Yes, I know. I do this a lot. But you guys are just so useful, I can't help it.

Here's the thing. There's no website about this shindig, so I can't get much to go on in terms of what to wear. There's a hard-copy invite, but I haven't seen it. All I know is that it's on a Friday night and the invitation says "business attire." But what is that? It sounds like it's fancier than business casual, which is what my office is, but also not fun like cocktails. So I'm at a bit of a loss. I've narrowed it down to a few options, but I need you to help me make the final decision.

1. A suit. Not exactly this one, but similar:


2. A black skirt and a button-down, similar in concept to this:


3. This red dress. And if this, should I wear it with or without the belt?


4. Something more dressy, like a cocktail dress or LBD, or something else entirely.

Thoughts? Please? Help me avoid looking out of place so that somebody won't blow my cover as a real, live grownup!

47 comments:

  1. I would say either one of the first two. Business suit, or slacks/skirt with button down shirt/blouse.

    Better to be overdressed, than under.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Agreed. Business attire means something you would wear to an office where guys are wearing suits or just shirt and tie. So, slacks, blouses, blazers or suits for women would suffice. You likely don't need to go all out with a suit, but slacks, skirt, blouse separates would work just fine. Don't stress and have fun.

    ReplyDelete
  3. To me, "business attire" is the assumption you will be coming straight from work. My vote is either of the first two. They're safe. And as the vendor's wife-to-be, I'd say it's not your job to stand out (though I do love that red dress). Have a great weekend!

    ReplyDelete
  4. i would go with one of the first two also.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Any of your choices would be fine. Around here, there are three different kinds of events:

    black tie (tuxes, gowns);
    semi-formal (suits and cocktail dresses); and
    business attire (suits/sport jackets and suits/dresses)

    ReplyDelete
  6. I vote number 2! (Exercising my right to vote. :))

    ReplyDelete
  7. Well my fav is in fact the red dress, but, alas, many have pointed out that this could be more of an "official" affair and less cocktail-ey.

    I would say go with the suit but wear a snazy type shirt/blouse/sweater underneath so if things are more cocktail-ey you can remove the jacket and still "fit in"

    ReplyDelete
  8. I like #2 idea, but only if you wear a color other than white [just for fun!] or a pretty scarf.

    Good luck! It sounds like a lot of fun :)

    ReplyDelete
  9. One of the first 2 as well. I like the first one the best but it could just be because it wouldn't mean having to shave legs. Yes, I am that lazy. Hope you have a good time!

    ReplyDelete
  10. It sounds like one of the first two - and I agree with Nilsa it sounds like this is because it's a drop in after work kind of thing.

    If you would be uncomfortable wearing what you choose to your office, I would dress it down a little, and if it would be normal for your business casual office I would dress it up a little.

    You'll totally pass as a grownup, it's in the bag.

    ReplyDelete
  11. You always find the cutest dresses!! For this event though, I would go with #2.

    ReplyDelete
  12. Not to self promote, but I address this very issue on Fashion Find today:

    http://twoliablog.com/fashionfind

    I'd go with the red dress. Yes, it says business attire. But it's in the evening, so you can get away with a little more than everyday office attire would allow.

    ReplyDelete
  13. But I need to see the outfits ON! From the pictures, I like the red dress best. Probably with the belt, unless it's uncomfortable, then not.

    ReplyDelete
  14. LBD is best....i have several strapless ones for business attire functions that i where a cute little jacket over.

    ReplyDelete
  15. Business attire is definitely not cocktail. I think blouse and skirt only is a bit to blah....I would go with the dress ...I wear dresses 90% of the time or with the suit. :)

    ReplyDelete
  16. I think the suit is too stuffy. I'd go with the skirt and shirt and make it stand out by adding a pop of color with your shoes or some fun jewelry.

    ReplyDelete
  17. I like #2 best, followed by #1. Otherwise, some nice black dress pants with some killer shoes, a nice blouse and some fun but classy jewelry.

    ReplyDelete
  18. I like #2 a lot! (ps, are you doing Mission: Put Together? You totally should)

    ReplyDelete
  19. Judging from your comments, you should go with one of the first two but before I read them I was all gung-ho for the red dress. I work in non-profit so casual dress is the norm. And I am partial to red.

    ReplyDelete
  20. I'd go with #1, with a brightly colored top under the suit jacket.

    ReplyDelete
  21. I would be careful with number 2. You don't want to look like staff who work at the party - people trying to give you empty glasses. So I would wear a real suit or a dress. Those items are perfectly acceptable at an office and therefore are good for this type of event. I can't tell if the red dress is more appropriate for an event or if it's something you could wear to the office. If it's the later, I would suggest wearing it with the belt.

    ReplyDelete
  22. I agree with everyone else. The first two would be good picks. The third is cute, but you don't want to come off as too flashy with clients.

    ReplyDelete
  23. i disagree that business attire = suit! i think you'll be overdressed (and uncomfortable.. i hate wearing suits) in #1. i think #2 is the safest because it's still fun & cute, but appropriate in nearly ANY event. i agree w/jessica though - perk it up with color. we're young and don't have to go boring for business attire!

    ReplyDelete
  24. Wooo I love the red dress! It looks like a lot of fun to wear where as the black dress "suit" in my opinion says STUFFY. I would go in what your most comfy in wearing. Either choice will be a good one.

    ReplyDelete
  25. I would say button down and skirt is really safe.

    Though I love that red dress :)

    ReplyDelete
  26. Okey... nr1. LOVE the red dress. nr2. don't think thats what they mean. I'd probably go with a clean cut black dress or skirt (knee length) a colored shirt or jacket (just to break things up a bit!)
    Then buisnessy... but not stuffy!

    ReplyDelete
  27. I would go with the shirt and skirt combo, but either wear a brighter more fun color than a white button down, or dress it up with some bright accessories, because white shirt and black button down skirt could be VERY similar to what the caterers might be wearing! :) I love the red dress but I think it's too much for "business attire".

    ReplyDelete
  28. I'd go with the red dress, not anything more cocktaily than that. The first two are straight-up business, but I agree with Slynnro that you can go with something a little sassier for evening.

    ReplyDelete
  29. Oh god, I have no idea. I've never worked anywhere that I couldn't wear jeans to work. And I live in Seattle where people wear jeans to places like the theater or symphony. My guess would be one of the first two options (which, if it were me, would mean I'd have to go shopping!).

    ReplyDelete
  30. 1 or 2. If you wear the suit, you could always take the jacket off if it's uncomfortable or if everyone else is more casual.

    If you wore choice 3 to a "business attire" event in my industry, you would stand out - not in a good way.

    ReplyDelete
  31. In situations like this I tend to aim to be inconspicuous and err on the side of caution. If it's not my event and I'm not sure what to wear, I play it safe- which sometimes means a notch more formal than is technically necessary but is totally beyond reproach. For that reason, I'd say #1.

    If you had a version of #1 that had a shift dress with a jacket, that'd be perfect, because then you could make a game time decision on whether to wear the jacket or not. Similarly, if you had a jacket of some kind you could wear with #2, it would give you some flexibility.

    ReplyDelete
  32. I would think any of them, but maybe 2 or 3- something more casual but semi-dressy. I think it basically means "no jeans".

    ReplyDelete
  33. I would wear the dress! I know the other commenters have responded that 1 and 2 are more appropriate - but I work for a stodgy NYC law firm, and I would wear that dress to a work event, especially an after-work event. Ultimately, you should wear what makes you feel most comfortable, but I think wearing a suit is an overstrict interpretation of business attire. Just my two cents.

    ReplyDelete
  34. OH, I totally love the red dress! But alas, business attire implies something not NEARLY so fun, so my vote is for #2. Very chic!

    ReplyDelete
  35. I would definitely go with one of the first two choices and I agree with the comment that although the red is gorgeous, you don't want to stand out that much from the crowd.

    ReplyDelete
  36. I would go with 2 if you want to look fun-business like, and 3 if you want to stand out!

    ReplyDelete
  37. Business attire in D.C. generally means a suit and tie for men and a suit or basic, knee-length dress or skirt/blouse ensemble for women. Think Capitol Hill attire. Think K Street.

    ReplyDelete
  38. Do NOT wear black bottom with a white button up shirt.. You'll end up looking like the wait staff!!!

    I saw a suit (pants or skirt) with a blouse (vs a button up cotton shirt). You can have a bit more fun with accessories, since it's an evening shindig. A little sparkle or something. The red dress might be a bit much. If it were a more "boring" color,it'd probably be fine.

    Report back! :-)

    ReplyDelete
  39. Red dress, but not in red. I don't like the belt dress look, but that's just me. I think the suit is too busnessy. You aren't at work.

    ReplyDelete
  40. I would say go with #1 or #2 but I think 2 will be more comfortable. #3 is lovely but a little over dressy for this.

    ReplyDelete
  41. I think I'm too conservative for this crowd, because I would go for the suit. Still, I think anything would suffice. My suspicion is that people's clothes will run the gamut.

    ReplyDelete
  42. I'd stay away from a suit...it looks to businessy.

    I like the skirt, button down option, but maybe with a touch of something fancy like a nice beaded purse or some really awesome shoes or some pretty jewelry.

    ReplyDelete
  43. I vote for #2, although I the comment about the black skirt with white blouse does make sense. Maybe mix up the colors a bit?

    ReplyDelete
  44. I like the red dress. Not more dressy that that. The suit is okay but if everyone is getting that drunk then it seems a more dressy look will be allowed too. It's also not your work party so I think you don't necessarily need to fit in quite as much as he does.

    ReplyDelete
  45. One of the first two would be most appropriate.

    ReplyDelete
  46. Remember that at least 87% of the classiness of the outfit is the woman underneath, so...you're got it covered. :)

    ReplyDelete
  47. Argh! I have a love/hate relationship with dress code 'suggestions.' When we were on our Ocean Trip a few weeks ago and went for high tea, the website said "Resort Casual." What the?! So does that mean I can wear a swimsuit and coverup? Or some sort of fancy sundress? We both opted for dress pants; I wore a jacket and nice shirt and he wore a button-up shirt. As it turns out, there was another guy there wearing black workout shorts and a white tshirt with running shoes. I felt cheapened by HIS attire.

    ReplyDelete