Frequently Asked Questions

Codes + Conduct: Dress Code: 40th Anniversary Night Time Party
Q I want to know what should I wear to a 40th anniversary night time party? Dress code is semi-formal... please help me with that.

A When a night time party invitation doesn't specify Black Tie or Formal Attire, you can assume the dress code is Suits and Dresses. If it says semi-formal, then a man would wear a suit, of blazer with grey flannels, and a tie with a white collared shirt (no button shirts), black shoes, socks and belt. A woman would wear a well-made, knee-length cocktail dress with beautiful shoes and carry a small clutch bag.

Codes + Conduct: Dress Code: 70th Birthday Party: Colorful Casual Attire: Los Angeles
Q We're invited to a 70th birthday cocktail/dinner party which will be held at a hip hotel in Los Angeles mid-March. The dress code is "Colorful Casual Attire" (no jean, no ties).

We live in the Midwest. My husband and I would like to know what might be appropriate dress for this occasion. We were told that ladies do not wear "black" pumps in March except to the office or for very formal occasions.

Can you give us some tips on what sort of "looks" are appropriate. We're 61 and 70 years old respectively. Thanks you!

A You are never inappropriately dressed when you follow the dress code Suits & Dresses. Your husband can wear a lightweight dark suit and add a pop of color with a bright colored shirt or socks. Alternatively, he can wear a sports jacket or blazer with a colorful shirt. Wear a simple but elegant cocktail dress or a black pencil shaped skirt with a satin jewel colored blouse. To a splash of another color carry a small interesting clutch bag, wear a colorful beaded necklace, or colored patent leather shoes.

What you'll find is that a lot of older people are more comfortable sticking to wearing a suit and tie or a dress and not getting too casual. In this case when they mean casual, the clearly mean no jeans or flip-flops.

Codes + Conduct: Dress Code: Accessories
Q How many accessories should one wear at one time?

A It would depend a great deal on your gender and the occasion. For instance, a dignified gentleman would wear a watch and, perhaps, a wedding band and cufflinks, but that's it. Before a lady walks out the door, she needs to look in the mirror and remove one accessory. Less is more when it comes to accessories for either gender.

Codes + Conduct: Dress Code: After Five Attire
Q What is after five attire?

A It depends upon the occasion, location, climate, and, possibly, season. When in doubt, a tie and jacket is always appropriate. You can always take off either or both if, once you get to the event, you feel that you are overdressed. It is always safest to go up the ladder in terms of dress code.

Codes + Conduct: Dress Code: Air Force Academy Dance: Woman
Q My daughter has been invited to attend a Ball at the Air Force Academy. The cadet will be wearing his service uniform. I've been told that is similar to a business suit and that the mess uniform is more similar to a tuxedo. What type of dress should she wear?

The cadet had indicated formal but he's really not sure. I'm really concerned that this is not the case. Men... most don't have a clue about this stuff, lol!

Thank you soooo much for your help!!!

A Your daughter should not wear a long dress. Instead, she should wear a short chic black cocktail dress that falls just about her knees, and beautiful shoes; carry a small pretty clutch bag for her lipgloss.

Codes + Conduct: Dress Code: Attire Attending Theater in London
Q What is the proper attire for attending a play/musical in London?

A If you are a man, a jacket, tie, and gray flannel pants, with black or brown shoes would be fine. You will notice a lot of people in the audience not wearing ties, but if you are an American visiting London, you should dress nicely.

If you are a woman, you would wear whatever you would wear if you were going out to a moderately expensive restaurant, but be sure to take a warm wrap because those old theaters can be mighty chilly.

Codes + Conduct: Dress Code: Attire for Cocktails and Dinner
Q At an evening cocktail/dinner event where "business attire is recommended", what should I wear?

A I am assuming that you are a woman, but since I do not know your age, build, gender or the line of business you are associated with, this will be a rather conservative answer: Wear a simple dinner suit with a skirt that falls slightly below the knees. The term "business attire" means that you can wear what you might wear to work, so whether you are a man or a woman a well-cut dark business suit would be appropriate. The host does not want you to rent a tuxedo or go home to change into evening clothes, he wants you to feel that you can go to the cocktail/dinner event straight from the office. You might want to wear good shoes and a good bag; perhaps a piece of jewelry. So: concentrate on quality and dress appropriate to business.

Codes + Conduct: Dress Code: Baby: Christening Gown
Q What is the correct placement for monogrammed name and date on a christening gown?

A Traditionally, the full name and date was hand-stitched (embroidered) on the front of the petticoat (or slip) near the hem. Subsequent siblings and later grandchildren's names and dates were added to the petticoat. Often the first initial of the family name appeared on the front of the collar of the gown or Christening coat. That way all the babies could wear the same gown, coat and petticoat.

Nowadays, you see the name, initial of the last name, or child's three initials and sometimes the date on the collar, coat, slip, bonnet, or blanket. Apparently, the embroidery machines cannot handle the delicacy of the fabric of the petticoat or slip, so monogramming appears more and more on the collar, the bonnet, or the christening coat.

The placement of the monogram, initial, or name and the date depends upon the fabric and style of the gown. On a Christening gown, it could be on the collar in the front, if the fabric of the petticoat is too delicate. It is not so much the placement being correct as practical.

Codes + Conduct: Dress Code: Baccalaureate Service
Q What do you wear if you are watching a baccalaureate service?

A Business Attire or Suits and Dresses are the expected dress codes for graduations.

Codes + Conduct: Dress Code: Baptism: 13-Year-Old Boy: Cookout
Q I am the godmother for a baptism to be held at 12:30 on the Sunday before Labor Day in Connecticut. The baptism will be followed by a Labor Day cookout at a country club. The invitation says casual, no jeans but as the godmother I don't want to be too casual. I'm looking for advice on what to wear. Also, what can my 13-year-old son wear? Thank you.

A Wear a lovely short day dress with short sleeves, beautiful shoes and a small clutch bag. Your son can wear a navy blue blazer with a white collared shirt and khaki (chinos) pants with loafers and no socks, but for the ceremony have him wear a tie that he can take off and put in his jacket pocket; he can take off the jacket for the cookout.

Codes + Conduct: Dress Code: Bare Legs + Feet
Q Do you wear hose with open-toed and backless shoes if it is a formal occasion?

A It depends. If you use self-tanner on your legs to give them a bit of shine and color and your feet are pedicured, then you do not have to wear panty hose with open-toed and backless shoes for a formal occasion. However, if your toes are not nicely polished and your legs are flaky and pasty, your look might benefit from wearing sheer panty hose that are a shade darker than your natural tone.

Codes + Conduct: Dress Code: Beaus + Baseball Caps
Q We have four grown children who occasionally bring home guests for a visit and a meal at our home. A couple of etiquette issues come to mind involving those dinners and manners. Some of the boys that come home with our girls wear hats (usually baseball caps) in our home. Some have worn them to the table. Second issue is that I was taught not to specifically thank a host for food. We were taught to thank the host for the invitation and good company and make specific compliments for well prepared food items. I was told by my mother that food is a gift of love. The metaphor is that you would not thank your mother for loving you, but you would thank her for specific gifts or deeds. Also help with how to approach the boys about the hats. Thanks!

A Unfortunately, you cannot change the behavior of these young men but you can tell your daughters that their guys have to leave their hats at the door. Be happy that your children want to come home to dinner, spend time with you, and introduce you to their friends. Many parents wish theirs would but don't.

Codes + Conduct: Dress Code: Belt + Suspenders
Q Is is appropriate to wear a belt with suspenders?

A No, wear one or the other. A belt and a pair of suspenders both serve the same purpose, which is to hold up the pants.

Codes + Conduct: Dress Code: Benefit Luncheon: Winter
Q What should I wear to a winter benefit luncheon?

A Assuming, this winter benefit luncheon is taking place in a cool climate, you would wear a beautiful long sleeved jersey dress or skirt suit that falls to your knee, or above if you're younger. I love the chic, high-end feeling of a pebbled tweed skirt-suit with beautiful, classic pumps. And for a luncheon, the timeless classic look of The ladies' handbag, solidly-structured in a neutral shade (black, tan, natural) with a strap and buckle. Imagine what your grandmother's Hermes bag looked like and you've got it, The ladies' handbag. If you're under 30, match the color of your bag with your shoes. Over thirty, matchy-matchy will age you. I know you know this but, remember that a counterfeit bag is considered counterfashion.

Codes + Conduct: Dress Code: Best Play Clothes
Q I need your expert advice. When an invitation states that the attire is "Best Play Clothes," what does that mean? No kidding, the invitation is for a grown-up party.

A "Best Play Clothes" is an au courant term for casual, fun, comfortable clothing. It means tuxedos, ties, and ball gowns are not allowed. Another term that sort of describes the same dress code is "Resort Attire." Play down the jewelry by leaving the diamond necklace in the vault but whimsical jewelry, strappy sandals, sneakers, tee-shirts, jeans, jackets, slacks, shorts, sweaters, flirty skirts would all work. Think childlike primary colors. Your host clearly wants his guests to be relaxed and have fun. There may be games where the guests are divided into teams for tug-of-war and capture the flag or square-dancing. Have fun!

Codes + Conduct: Dress Code: Best Ties
Q Dear Didi,

What type of tie fabric/pattern should a man wear to a semi- formal event? S.M., Brooklyn, NY

A Dear S.M.,

A good tie for a fairly formal event is made of three pieces of heavyweight silk that comprise the blade, under blade, and gusset which are hand sewn together. The heavier weight silk holds colors of greater intensity; the weight and texture of the silk determine the feel of the tie. When laying the tie across the palm of your hand it should feel significant and not easily slide off.

The pattern for evening would more than likely be a dark solid herringbone with spots in a different color. Alternatively, a two-color square design, a two-color diagonal diamond pattern, a two-color houndstooth, or a plain solid color twill tie are also warn with dark suits. A repp (diagonally-striped) tie in two colors works best with more casual jackets, such as a blazer or sports jacket. Linen ties are for summer or tropical locals and wool is primarily worn in a cooler climate in the daytime. Lastly, don't wear a button-down shirt after six o'clock, especially with a good tie. ~Didi

Codes + Conduct: Dress Code: Birthday Dinner : White Slacks: Summer
Q I have been invited to a birthday dinner at 7:00 pm, and wanted to know if white slacks are appropriate. Also, I will be wearing a blue silk blouse swirl print and it has grommets around the neck. THANK YOU

A That sounds like the perfect summer evening outfit. Silk is always dressy, to be safe you can dress up the blouse and slacks a notch with beautiful shoes or strappy sandals and a chic little clutch bag.

Codes + Conduct: Dress Code: Birthday Party: Casual Restaurant
Q Hi Didi,

I am a 32 year-old male living in Charleston, SC. My wife and I are going to a birthday party for a friend who's turning 33 this evening. The party will be at a casual restaurant and will continue at the home of the birthday girl following dinner. What would be good to wear? I was thinking light weight flat front chinos and a button down Polo, sleeves rolled up, and loafers with no socks. My wife is struggling with her decision. Any help would be appreciated. Many thanks, Josh.

A I am sorry I didn't get to you sooner. Just as we were losing power, I mailed your first answer and never knew if it went through, apparently it didn't and I am too late.

I would have told you to wear an open collar button down shirt with rolled up sleeves and khaki pants, with loafers and no socks. Your wife could have worn a summer dress or a beautiful tunic or blouse with flowing pants or skinny jeans and strappy sandals.

I'm not a huge fan of polo shirts in the evening as they are just a step up from a T-shirt. Now that you're in your 30s you want to dress up a bit when you go out to a friend's birthday party, no matter how casual the restaurant. You do it out of respect for the honoree. I know you know that or you wouldn't be asking me.

Codes + Conduct: Dress Code: Black Carpet Chic
Q I am invited to a party. The invitation says Dress Code Black Carpet Chic. What does that mean?

A Black Carpet Chic refers to clothing designed by African-American fashion designers, such as Tennille White, Lila Rivera, Hassan Pierre or the fashion style of models and icons Kai Raye, Sabrina Athena, Melanie Fiona, Lola Monroe, Mehcad Brooks, Selita Ebanks and Dwight Ebanks, etc.

Codes + Conduct: Dress Code: Black Patent Leather + Stockings
Q I notice that black patent heels are now worn during the winter months. Is it appropriate or should black leather heels be worn during the winter months? Also, what about hosiery (sp.)? I notice that they are not worn by many, even in the winter months. Please help me. Thank you.

A Black patent leather is worn all year long. It is durable and easier to keep shined. Black patent leather is slightly dressier than the plainer calf and can be worn to work and afterwards for late night dancing. You'll also see red patent leather, which is very chic right now. I'm not mad about white patent leather, but beige is quite elegant.

The younger generation hates wearing panty hose. They groom their legs so that it is hard to tell if they are actually wearing panty hose or not. I think it has a lot to do with the fact that pants were a major part of their wardrobe growing up and therefore they never got used to wearing them when they were young. It is a shame because the sensuous ritual of taking off of the stockings and the garter can make a woman feel incredibly sexy; for the man watching, it can be a huge turn-on.

Codes + Conduct: Dress Code: Black Shoes and Red Stripes
Q Can I wear a black shoe that has red and blue stripes on a blue top and tanked trouser?

A What is your question? Can you wear black shoes that have red and blue stripes on top with tanked trousers? If the tanked pants have any of the colors in the shoes, why not? Go for it.

Codes + Conduct: Dress Code: Black Shoes With Navy Pant Suit
Q Is it appropriate for a woman to wear black shoes with a dark navy pant suit (for business attire), or must they be navy as well?

A No, you do not have to wear navy shoes with a navy suit. You could wear black, brown, or beige, as well.

Codes + Conduct: Dress Code: Black Tie
Q What does black tie mean?

A What does black tie mean for a man or for a woman? For a man, black tie means the dress code requires him to wear a tuxedo. Traditionally, a tuxedo (a dressy well-cut black jacket with matching pants) is worn with a black bow tie, these days one often sees colorful bow ties with matching cummerbunds, but colored shirts and tuxedos are still inappropriate. The cummerbund is a wide satin belt folded facing up that wraps around the waist and fastens in the back, however, if you have a large stomach, it might be more flattering to wear a vest instead. Usually when a young man stops growing it is time to get fitted for his first tuxedo and buy black patent leather shoes and black socks and a white pleated tuxedo shirt. The pleated white shirt will need studs and cuff links but often inexpensive ones will do just fine. Don't be intimidated by an invitations that say "Black Tie" because you do not want to limit your career by not accepting invitation from the big players. A woman would wear a dressy cocktail dress, unless the invitation states that it is a ball, and then she would wear an evening dress or ballgown. Usually, when a woman is unsure of the dress code for a party, she will talk to other women attending and sometimes they'll all agree to wear short or long dresses. More and more women are opting to wear dressy pants with a elegant top instead of a dress to a black-tie party.

Codes + Conduct: Dress Code: Black Tie Invited: Dinner Dance
Q The wedding invitation mentioned "black tie invited" for the reception, 7:00 PM cocktail followed by a sit down dinner. What should I wear ? Gown or short dress? I'm 50 yrs. old, female, very well fit, 5' tall. Thank you.

A The Black Tie Invited dress code is a step down from having to wear a floor-length dress. A knock out designer knee-length cocktail dress would be perfect, with fabulous shoes and an elegant small clutch bag. Frankly, a short dress with great legwear and heels will make you look taller, if that's a concern.

Codes + Conduct: Dress Code: Black Tie Optional
Q Does Black Tie Optional require wearing a long dress?

A No, Black Tie Optional does not require you to wear a long dress; however, you might want to wear a flirty cocktail dress or an elegant dinner suit, depending upon your age. Don't forget a pretty evening bag and dressy shoes.

Codes + Conduct: Dress Code: Black Tie Optional
Q Black tie optional

A Black tie optional means that the host would like you to wear evening clothes, but that the man does not necessarily have to wear a tuxedo and the woman does not have to wear a ballgown. The man can, say, wear black on black or a velvet jacket without a tie and the woman can wear a flirty cocktail dress or dinner suit. The host wants you to be creative and wear the festive evening attire of your choice.

Codes + Conduct: Dress Code: Black Velvet Dress: March 2013
Q Is it appropriate to wear a black velvet gown to a black tie gala the first weekend in March?

A Yes, please, do wear a black velvet gown to a black-tie gala the first week in March, but add some bright white. The black + white combination are very chic just now. Lots of white pearls. Long white gloves. A black + white evening bag. You get the picture.

Codes + Conduct: Dress Code: Black-Tie Affair
Q I've been invited to my first "black-tie affair", any tips or suggestions? Thank you.

A You would rent or buy a black tuxedo jacket with matching pants, a black bow tie (either clip or self-tie), a white tuxedo shirt, black shoes, and black socks that are long enough so that your flesh doesn't show when you sit down. You may need studs and cuff links for the tuxedo shirt. To hold up the pants, a black silk cummerbund or braces. Most of all, you would want to be well groomed from head to toe, classic haircut, well shaved, and shined shoes. In winter in the north, you would need a top coat and leather gloves.

Codes + Conduct: Dress Code: Bolero to Cover Arms: Bolero
Q Dear Miss Didi,

Thank you for taking my question. My name is Rita and I have a formal work event this Thursday. I may be wearing a black or navy blue Evening gown. The Navy blue gown is pretty and I like it; however it does not cover the shoulders or arms. I have big arms ...what color wrap or something can I get to have a light cover?
Thank you for taking my question.

A As I don't know the style of the dresses, this is a shot in the dark. To cover your shoulders look for a thin bolero (short jacket) in either the same fabric and color or a contrasting fabric and color. A bolero looks especially good on a long-waisted woman. A bolero can make a decollete dress look more sophisticated and an embroidered or decorative bolero can make a plain evening dress dressier. A brilliant jewel colored bolero would give a dark dress a pop of Spring.

Codes + Conduct: Dress Code: Boots + Bowties
Q What does a woman wear to a "boots and bowties event?

A To a "boots and bowties" event, she should wear boots with a festive skirt and blouse.

Codes + Conduct: Dress Code: Boutonnieres
Q Is it o.k. to wear a boutonniere without a tie or jacket?

A You have to be wearing a jacket in order to have a lapel hole in which to wear a boutonniere, but you don't necessarily have to be wearing a tie. In fact, if you're not wearing a tie and other men are, a boutonniere in your lapel would make up for it. Of course, if the lapel buttonhole is not pierced through the boutonniere can be pinned; however, you wouldn't pin a boutonniere onto a shirt.

Customarily, boutonnieres were frequently worn in the past for special and formal occasions. As dress codes relax, so have the honored traditions.

Codes + Conduct: Dress Code: Boutonnieres + Corsages
Q How to place a corsage and boutonniere?

A A man would wear a boutonniere in his left lapel. If it has come from a florist, it will have a pin attached that would pierce the cloth of the lapel and reappear on the other side of the boutonniere. Corsages are usually placed in the same fashion; however, younger women and girls often prefer to wear them on their wrist so that the weight of the corsage doesn't leave a large hole from the pin.

Codes + Conduct: Dress Code: Boys' Semi-formal Attire
Q What is semi-formal attire for boys?

A It would depend upon the age of the boy, the place where the event is being held, and climate at the time of the event. A navy blue blazer with gray flannel pants (khakis or white pants depending on season and climate), a white collared shirt and plain or striped tie, a belt and matching leather shoes.

Codes + Conduct: Dress Code: Brunch: LA: 10:30 AM
Q Going to a birthday brunch at a very elegant restaurant. The dress attire is semi-formal or casual cocktail attire. What would be proper to wear at 10:30 in the morning? The restaurant is old-Hollywood elegant and these ladies are the most classy ladies I've ever been around. Dressing up at 10:30 is common for them. Thanks!

A Well, you must wear a great hat. But not if you'll be wearing sunglasses, because that's far too much disguise that early in the day. Wear either a knee-length skirt suit, pantsuit, or day dress, with beautiful shoes and carry a "ladies bag." As opposed to a feed bag or clutch. For a brunch or luncheon, it is always more about the quality of the clothing you wear and not about the dressiness. One great piece of jewelry - like a glorious brooch in the shape of a bird or bug - would be a great conversation starter.

Codes + Conduct: Dress Code: Business Attire: Women
Q What does "Business Attire" mean for a woman (not an inductee) attending a museum induction ceremony on a Sunday at 5:00? There is a "Red Carpet" as the inductees enter.

A You might wear a very good skirt suit that falls just below your knees; your best leather, low or medium heels, a small, chic leather bag, and a cheerful designer scarf around your neck held at the center of your chest with a scarf ring. Since I don't know your age, build, or style, this is a safe, smart way to dress when the code is "Business Attire," and you're going to a museum induction ceremony at 5:00 PM and want to be conservatively stylish.

Codes + Conduct: Dress Code: Business Black
Q What does a dress code of "business black" mean for a design-oriented gala in the evening in Manhattan in December? If a woman wears a black suit, must she wear a black shirt under it (this is popular among some designers, but I find it distasteful on women)?

A Remember that the dress code "Black-tie" instructs male guests to wear a tuxedo with a black bow tie and it is a signal to female guests to dress at the same level. The same goes for "Business Black." The dress code level is stated for men because it is assumed that women are better at picking up on dress codes. "Business black" makes it crystal-clear to a man that he shouldn't wear khakis or jeans. It does not mean that a woman has to wear a black suit. It does mean that she shouldn't wear jeans or a ball gown. A cocktail dress or short dinner skirt suit would be appropriate and it need not be black.

Codes + Conduct: Dress Code: Business Black: Gala: December: Manhattan
Q What does "Business Black" mean for the men going to a designer gala in Manhattan in December? Does this mean a tux or a black suit?...

A More and more, we see the 'Black Business' suit as the new black tie. The dress code 'Business Black' means 'Suits & Dresses,' black suits for the men. It doesn't mean tuxedo because you wouldn't wear a tux to a gala when the dress code has the word "business" in it.

Codes + Conduct: Dress Code: Business Casual
Q My company went to business casual a number of years ago, but now I see more and more of my co-workers dressing up. If we're allowed to dress business casual, why do people dress up when they don't have to? I'm confused.

A What's interesting is that gradually, senior managers have gone back to traditional business attire on most days. Everyone else hasnít. So it's actually pretty easy to tell who's senior (or aspiring to be senior) and who's not just from looking at the way they're dressed. Business casual started in the early 1990s when the rules were dropped by the new khaki-clad, long- haired millionaires in the Silicon Valley, and then to give the rest of us a head start on the weekend. The reality of it is that total freedom is not allowed. Most companies do not allow jeans but many say khakis and corduroys are fine. Business casual is actually an oxymoron because it lets employees loosen up but still reminds them that they might have to walk into an emergency boardroom meeting on a Friday. Most junior executives keep a good suit or skirtsuit in their office for such occasions. As it turns out, people want some of the guesswork taken out of what to wear. Another trend connected to this is that many or the new working women are bored with dressing down and look for the opportunity to wear jewelry or bright colored shoes with a business suit, even if they have to put them on at the end of the day before leaving work to socialize.

Codes + Conduct: Dress Code: Business Holiday Party: Formal
Q I am attending a Christmas party for my husband's work place at a fancy hotel which has been indicated formal dress. I plan to wear a navy blue cocktail dress. The length is just below the knee and it has off the shoulder straps.
Would it be ok to wear black or cream heels? It would need to be a short heel as I am rather tall. Should it be close toed, or does that matter in winter? Would it be ok to wear a cream-colored cardigan for warmth?

A In winter you would wear classic black pumps with a closed toe; however, they can be sling-backs. I love the look of a soft cream colored cardigan sweater with a navy blue cocktail dress. Black and blue compliment each other in an interesting way because you wouldn't want to look too matchy-matchy with navy blue shoes and you wouldn't wear cream-colored shoes in winter. However, nude colored shoes with shiny legwear a shade lighter than your skin tone can flatter your legs.

Codes + Conduct: Dress Code: Buttoning Suits
Q Which button(s) do you button on a man's suit?

A Today some suits are made with one button, some with two and some with three. You would only button one button on a one or two-button model. On a three-button model, you could button one or two buttons but it depends on the location. In some three-button suits, the top button is so high up the lapel that you would never button it so the suit is essentially a two-button suit and you would only button one (the middle) button. On other three- button suits, the top button is not as high and you could button two (the top and middle) buttons.

Codes + Conduct: Dress Code: California Chic Attire
Q what is California chic attire? I have a bronze satin snappy dress almost cocktail knee-length with heels. Is this okay,
and what about menswear?

A A short, snappy, strapless (or not) dress is always fashionable as long as your arms are buff. I don't want you to look last season, which is why I'm questioning the color bronze. In my opinion, bronze doesn't look fresh right now. Bronzes, taupes, and metalics are tricky. They go in and out of style quickly, and if you're wearing it a little late, you've missed the wave; because it is perceived as "last season." So store that chic bronze dress away to be saved for that next wave of the metalics.

About menswear, he would wear a dark light-weight suit with either a white or blue collared shirt. Remember that after six, he wouldn't wear a button-down collar shirt. Depending on his age, he will decide whether he wears a suit of not. Older men tend to feel more prepared for an event wearing a good tie and jacket and trimmer looking when wearing a solid suit. Younger men, not so much, but a jacket is always proper for an evening out.

Codes + Conduct: Dress Code: Caps
Q Is it ok to wear a cap inside?

A No, caps need to come off in private homes and restaurants.

Codes + Conduct: Dress Code: Casual Cocktail Attire: Fall 2011
Q What is casual cocktail attire?

A It's funny you should ask because this past year, especially in warmer weather, I've gotten way too many questions about Casual Cocktail Attire. Interestingly enough, this coming fall and winter dressing up is trending. From all that I've seen and read, dressing up is the new cool and dressing down is old school.

That said, the dress code Casual Cocktail Attire means that male guests don't have to wear ties or socks. With frost approaching, it means a jacket, no tie, but socks keep feet warm.

For ladies, Casual Cocktail Attire has meant lots of strappy sandals with short Grecian style one-shoulder dresses and little or no jewelry. Going into fall, we're seeing deeper, warmer earth colors and layered, longer lengths as women literally dress up preparing the coldest months.

Obviously, Casual Cocktail Attire would be different in a sleepy rural village than in a bustling major city, and vary again from the tropics to the chilly north.

The key word in the dress code Casual Cocktail Attire is "Attire." Who uses that word anyway? It is only associated with the dress code Formal Attire, so that tells you the host is very Attire conscious and doesn't want guests showing up in cargo pants, flip-flops, baseball caps, sneakers, t-shirts, hooded sweatshirts, ripped or shredded jeans. It means: dress up in quality, well-made and well-designed clothing, shoes, boots, and jewelry.

The second key word is "Cocktail," as in the famous cocktail dress, which tells you a certain level of sophistication is expected, because there won't be any beer kegs--just cocktails.

Apologies for the uber-long answer but last year's established dress codes are currently in transition in different parts of the country. With the change in weather, so goes the definitions of various dress codes.

Codes + Conduct: Dress Code: Casual Dress
Q What is casual dress?

A "Casual Dress" means you can wear your best jeans or khakis and a jacket. A woman might wear a pretty top with a flirty skirt or jeans and boots or strappy sandals. A man might wear a shirt without a tie, loafers but no socks.

Codes + Conduct: Dress Code: Casual Dressy
Q I am a 56-year-old female, 5'4". What should I wear to an engagement party(7:0p.m.) I was told it is casual dressy (which doesn't tell me anything!). It is in the bride-to-be's parents' home. Lately, I seem to more dressed-up than
everyone else; following the old etiquette rules. Thank you for your help.

A You know that if that engagement party is today, a Sunday, you would in fact dress down, especially if you were going to a private house. I agree with you about the dress code "casual dressy." Basically what it means is very expensive informal clothing. You would not wear a beaded dress, a dressy dinner skirtsuit, or an evening dress. You could wear an elegant silk blouse or cashmere sweater with a well-cut beautiful knee length skirt or slacks, pretty shoes with a heel and an interesting clutch bag. It is one of those dress codes that says, "Look in the mirror as you're going out the door and take off one accessory." "Casual dressy" has come to mean that less is more and quality of design and fabric are more important than looking dressy. Do wear two good pieces of jewelry, but for instance if you're wearing a gold necklace, don't wear a gaudy belt. You get the picture. Think Ralph Lauren Purple line. Don't worry about thinking that you are more dressed-up than everyone else because getting dressed up for your hosts is a matter of respect. This is the time when you wear that little black dress or that Diane Von Furstenburg wrapdress with the short or three-quarter length sleeves, the strand of pearls, and the strappy heels. It just means no "evening" dresses that show a lot of bare skin or drape to the ground.

Codes + Conduct: Dress Code: Casual Elegant
Q What is casual elegant dress? I am going to a restaurant with my boyfriend and this is the requested dress. I'm not sure how dressy it is. Thank you.

A He wants you to wear an elegant dress. Think little-black-dress-&-pearls, with pretty but simple black shoes and bag. Alternatively, you might wear a cashmere sweater set with a well-cut skirt or pants, also with a string of pearls or pearl earrings. He doesn't want you to overdress but he wants you to be chic. He does not want you to dress bohemian or wear a business or pants suit, no matter how expensive the outfit. Alas, neither does he want you to wear rhinestones and stiletto heels, nor show too much cleavage.

Codes + Conduct: Dress Code: Casual Elegant
Q What does the dress code "casual elegant" require? Would this mean that a jacket is required for men?

A Yes, a man over the age of eighteen would wear a jacket but not necessarily a tie. However, if he is over the age thirty, he would wear a tie or ascot. He might wear good khakis, white or colored trousers, but in summer not necessarily gray flannels. He would wear good brown shoes, but not necessarily socks. He would probably wear a very good collared, long sleeved shirt. He might wear a very good summer suit, white or dark blue, but never seersucker.

Codes + Conduct: Dress code: Christening Dress
Q Didi,

Recently I was asked to be the godmother to my brother's daughter. My sister was asked to be the godmother to his first daughter.

My sister and my brother's wife have both said that it is customary for the godmother to purchase the christening gown for the baby.

I was planning on opening a saving account for the child. However, now that I've been told that I have to purchase the gown, my thoughts are that instead of putting money in an account I will buy the dress. My sister thinks I should do both.

Could you please help!!!!!!

A Nowhere is it written that the godmother buys the Christening dress. It is not carved in stone that every baby has to have her own Christening dresses because usually one dress is passed around and then passed down. The baby only wears it for a couple of hours and traditionally that dress is passed down through the family. Suggest that in these difficult times we all need to be hugely frugal. Therefore, bow to the tradition that the dress is passed from baby to baby and so, as your gift, you want to start a college fund for your niece. It is your money to spend as you please and as you see fit; your sister cannot dictate your gift. Pragmatically, the college fund is fiscally a much wiser Christening present than a dress that will be worn once for a couple of hours---especially when there is already a family Christening dress.

Codes + Conduct: Dress Code: Christening: Mother of the Baby
Q Is it all right for me to wear a bright blue dress to my baby daughter's christening?

A Why not? As long as your arms are covered and the length of the dress is not too far above your knees, you can wear whatever color you please.

Codes + Conduct: Dress Code: Christening: Wearing White
Q Hi - I have a my godson's Christening next Sunday and was wondering if it is appropriate to wear a white dress just below the knee with a jacket. It's only mid-April.

A If the dress is off-white, that would be fine. In the tropics or south of the Mason-Dixon line, bright white would be fine, but in cooler climates you would wear an off-white, such as a creamy white.

Codes + Conduct: Dress Code: Christmas Dinner in Northwest
Q What is appropriate for a woman in her 60's to wear to a Saturday evening company Christmas dinner party which will be held at a NW resort/spa? I was thinking a long skirt & boots with perhaps a top and vest?

A Sounds good, but I might go with a festive shawl instead of a vest.

Codes + Conduct: Dress Code: Cigar Bar Political Fundraiser
Q My spouse and I are hosting a political fundraiser at a cigar lounge. Many important people will be in attendance. It will be from 7 to 9 pm. We live in the southwest so it may be warm in mid July. We are both in our mid-thirties. I'm a size 6. I'm not sure if I should wear a suit, a dress or something with color. Also what type of shoe, open-toe or a closed toe. In addition I have small tattoos on the inside of both of my ankles, which I am very embarrassed about. Please help us both. Thank you.

A Since you're young why not wear a flirty chiffon cocktail dress such as what Marilyn Monroe would wear, along with beautiful shoes? If you need to cover up those tattoos, there is a make-up that will do that or you can wear luxurious tights. If you wear luxury tights, then closed toe is the way to go. Apparently, Demi Moore and Sharon Stone are both cigar aficionados.

Your husband could wear a modern version of the short smoking jacket. Alternatively, a cream colored light-weight suit with white bucks: think Cuba in the 1940s and early fifties. If it is a more conservative crowd, then go for the gentleman's club ambiance.

Codes + Conduct: Dress Code: Clubland: Tea Party + Gloves
Q My club is having a tea party. What is the proper etiquette concerning wearing gloves and what to do with the gloves when you take them off after sitting down at the table? We want this to be as proper as possible.

A When you leave your coat in the cloakroom, you might leave your gloves in your coat pockets. If you are not wearing a coat, you would fold your gloves once and place them inside your handbag. You would only wear gloves inside upon entering the club; you would take off your gloves before taking off your coat.

Codes + Conduct: Dress Code: Cocktail Attire in Southern California
Q What is "cocktail attire" at an engagement party in Southern California?

A For a man or woman, or both? A man might wear a jacket, but not necessarily a tie; he would not wear jeans or sneakers, no matter how expensive. A woman might wear what she would wear to an expensive restaurant in Southern California. Depending on her figure and her age, she might wear a flirty dress or a dressy suit. Basically, you might wear whatever you would wear to a wedding or dinner dance that is not "Black Tie."

Codes + Conduct: Dress Code: Cocktail Casual
Q What does cocktail casual mean for restaurant dining?

A Cocktail casual means that it is not a formal dinner and that you can come straight from work, if you choose to do so. You can always have a piece of jewlery in your hand bag to put on if you feel you are underdressed. The formality of the restaurant is your cue. If the waiters' uniforms are khaki pants and polo shirts, a gentleman guest would not be expected to wear a tie or jacket and the woman guest would not wear a dinner suit (also called cocktail or theater suit, usually made of satin, velvet or crepe). When in doubt, call the restaurant to ask about the dress code.

If the restaurant requires men to wear jackets, or jackets with ties, the woman would wear a well-cut pant suit, a short dress (but if she's over forty the length should fall slightly below her knees), or in winter a black or gray wool skirt suit. Accessorize with simple earrings, a necklace or a brooch, or hair ornament, but don't wear them all at the same time or you will look like a Christmas tree. My daughters always suggest that I look in the mirror before going out and take off one accessory. When I don't know exactly what to wear, I telephone or email my host/s to RSVP and say that I want to know exactly what they are wearing and then I dress accordingly.

Codes + Conduct: Dress Code: Cocktail Casual vs. Dressy Casual
Q How is "cocktail casual" defined? Is it better to say simply "dressy casual"?

A "Cocktail Casual" means no ties, no socks, possibly not even a jacket. "Dressy Casual" means really expensive designer resort or play clothes.

Codes + Conduct: Dress Code: Cocktail Chic
Q I am attending a fundraising evening fashion show and cocktail party in a few weeks and the invitation says attire is "cocktail chic". I would greatly appreciate your advice.

A The hosts want you to dress fashionably. If you are a man, you would wear a dark suit and either a dark shirt without a tie, or a light colored shirt with a tie, along with dark shoes and socks. If you are a woman, you would wear a black cocktail dress that hits just below the knees. Unless you are under forty years of age, then it can be as short as you like. It is polite to wear a dress from a prior collection of one of the designers, if you can, but if not, not to worry. Depending upon the dress and the weather, you can wear black tights and heels. In a couple of weeks, we will be heading into spring and you can wear one of the bright prints or vivid solids. Depending on your build, you can wear one of the wrap-dresses that are so stylish right now. In my opinion, black is always safe and it is ever so "cocktail chic." The hosts don't want you to wear business clothes, but they also don't want you to wear jeans, no matter how expensive. The key here is to look sophisticated and well-groomed. If you have a dressy dinner suit, that would also be appropriate.

Codes + Conduct: Dress Code: Cocktail Dinner: Bling-Bling Dress
Q Can I wearing a bling bling dress to a cocktail dinner?

A Can you wear a bling-bling dress to a dinner party? It's better to dress up then down, so go for it! This is a rather general answer because I don't have any info on the dress code, location, or occasion.

Codes + Conduct: Dress Code: Cocktail Dress at Optional Black-Tie
Q Is it ok to wear a cocktail dress to a black-tie optional function?

A Absolutely, a cocktail dress to a black-tie occasion is fine, especially if it is strapless or dressy in another way. Also, you might wear good jewelry, dressy shoes and tote a chic evening bag.

Codes + Conduct: Dress Code: Cocktail Reception: West Palm Beach: 5:30-7:30 PM
Q Hi...I would like to know what I should wear for a Leadership cocktail reception in West Palm Beach, FL., at 5:30 pm - 7:30 pm. They require business or Palm Beach casual attire. I was thinking a black dress but because it is not an evening event not sure about it. What can you suggest to me...please include colors.

Thank you.

A A little black dress is always appropriate Cocktail Attire, so not to worry. Casual in West Palm Beach usually means beautiful tunics with linen or silk slacks and pretty sandals, but this sounds as though this event is more professional than social. Wear the LBD with beautiful shoes and carry a small clutch bag.

Codes + Conduct: Dress Code: Collared Shirts
Q If you wear a collared shirt, which can be connected with buttons with a sweater over the shirt. . . do you keep it buttoned under the sweater, or do you unbutton the collar and leave it over the sweater????

A If there are buttons on the collar, you would keep them buttoned, whether you are wearing a sweater over the shirt or not.

Codes + Conduct: Dress Code: Complimenting Your Spouse
Q I have to attend a party of my relatives 50th Anniversary where the theme is "togetherness" and code is "Complementing ur spouse". We are confused what to wear. Can you give me some suggestions...

A There is an old saying that the longer couples are together, the more they tend to look alike, for instance in the way they dress. Probably because the wife usually buys the clothing, but anyway it is a sign of togetherness.

Assuming that the dress code is not "Black Tie," you don't have to wear a long dress and therefore can wear cocktail party attire. If you have a partner, you can wear the same colors to show solidarity. Since I don't know the formality of the party or your gender, age, or build, this is a rather general question. If you would like to ask the question again with more information about you and the event, I would be better able to give a better answer.

Codes + Conduct: Dress Code: Cool Casual
Q What is the proper attire for a grand opening of a wine and gourmet cheese store? Would dress shoes, jeans, a button-down shirt and sport coat be acceptable?

A When you say "sport coat," if you mean a good quality tweed jacket, yes, that would be fine. If you mean denim jacket, then I would say no. When wearing jeans to a party, no matter how swell the jeans, you would dress-up on top and wear good casual shoes. I am not a huge fan of jeans during the holidays and for parties in general, unless you are going to a barbecue. If you are over forty, you wouldn't wear jeans to a "grand opening." A sports jacket and collared shirt with a tie would be fine with good jeans; you would actually be adhering to the casual cool dress code. Cool casual is appropriate for a gourmet wine and cheese grand opening.

Codes + Conduct: Dress Code: Country Club Casual
Q What does country club casual mean?

A Actually, it would depend upon the time of day or night. During the day a man would not have to wear a tie, jacket or socks. He would, however, be expected to wear a short sleeve shirt with a collar or a "polo shirt." In other words no tee-shirts or "wife beaters" (tank tops). Khaki pants, white or colored trousers, or shorts are fine, but no jeans, seersucker, or big baggy cargo pants. Absolutely no gold chains or earrings on any visible part of the body, and hide those tattoos. The only acceptable jewelry might be a wedding band, a signet ring, and a simple watch. If playing tennis, all white attire most probably will be required. Your swim suit would look like oversized nylon or cotton blend boxer shorts and your penis would not be discernible. At a Sunday invitational luncheon, a gentleman over the age of forty might wear a blue blazer, but not necessarily a tie. For evening parties, blazers or jackets, long summer gray flannels or colored trousers, and a tie are a must (a club tie, if you have it or any summer color combination), if "black tie" is not stated on the invitation. Customarily, ascots are only worn by gentlemen over the age of seventy-five because on younger men they look pretentious.

A woman would dress according to her age and build. After a certain age, some women just don't look comfortable in a bikini. Skirts, shirts, summer dresses, shorts, slacks in linen blends or cotton are appropriate with a blouse, tee shirt or "polo shirt." To enter a country club clubhouse or its cafeteria, snack bar, dining room, or bar, everyone over the age of twelve wears a shirt of some kind; no naked bellies or bare feet allowed; sneakers, sandals, flats, espadrilles, and flip-flops are worn. Jewelry is kept to a minimum but hats and sunglasses are huge. If the invitation does not state "black tie," the dress code would still be a skirt and blouse, slacks and tunic, or a well cut lightweight dress in summer.

Codes + Conduct: Dress Code: Country Club Casual, Florida Style
Q What does it mean: Country Club Casual, Florida Style?

A Think Lily Pulitzer, Ralph Lauren without the hideous logos, Tory Burch, Manuel Canovas. As it is not clear whether you are asking about day wear of party clothes, I am listing a few brands that advertise in fashion magazines. Day wear is mostly skirts and shorts with open, unbuttoned polo shirts and short-sleeved blouses, mostly in linen blends and cottons. You want to wear something that covers you up when you go into the eating areas where cover-ups and shoes are usually required. For evening, gentlemen wear jackets and ties to parties, and women wear tunics over slacks or summer dresses and strapless short dresses in silks, linens and cottons. Men do not have to wear socks; however, shoes need to be polished.

Codes + Conduct: Dress Code: Country Club Casual: Florida Style
Q What does Country Club Casual, Florida Style, for a rehearsal dinner at 7:00 pm mean to wear?

A Unless the invitation calls a Rehearsal Dinner a barbecue or cookout, or mentions that there will be games, you would dress as though you were going to a chic cocktail party: a man would wear a navy blue blazer or summer weight jacket with good quality khaki pants or trousers, a collared shirt, a tie, and polished shoes without socks; a woman would wear a chic cocktail dress, dressy sun-dress, wrap-dress, or silk jacket or tunic with slacks and pretty, strappy sandals. Most private clubs require that men wear ties and jackets for "dinner," so unless otherwise specified, he should dress accordingly. It is better that a man wears a tie because then he at least has the option of taking it off.

Codes + Conduct: Dress Code: Country Club: Christmas Dance: No Black Tie Required


A It would depend upon the climate. Many country clubs in the North open around Christmastime for a dinner dance. A younger woman would wear a short flirty cocktail dress; older, a long skirt with a beautiful satin blouse, embroidered jacket, or cashmere sweater; or a velvet tunic and velvet pants with a long strand of pearls or colored beads.

A man would wear a blazer, probably a navy blue blazer with gray flannel pants, a collared shirt with a silk tie, black belt, shoes and socks; he could also wear a dark suit with a beautiful collared shirt and a silk tie, with a black belt, and black shoes and socks. Remember that after six o'clock the shirt collar would not be a button down. In the South those blazers would be a lighter weight, in the North velvet blazers are often worn at night during the holidays, as are festive ascots and bow ties in both the North and the South.

The key word Christmas means festive. If you have a choice between a little black cocktail dress or a red one, wear the red one. However, that little black dress would be just fine. The other helpful phrase is "No Black Tie Required," which tells you that the dance committee wants you to dress up, but guests are not required to wear tuxedos or ball gowns. This is not a fancy dress ball, it is a festive country club Christmas dance. You'll see plaids, and lots of reds, greens, silver and gold in the dresses, jewelry, ties, and velvet jackets. Accessorize with anything that sparkles. For instance, a faux rhinestone bow on your shoes or belt buckle, a shiny gold headband, dangly earrings, an oversized cocktail ring, or a marvelous broach. All of which, can be ice breakers, conversation starters. "I love your earrings!" However, do stay away from those "drugstore Christmas pins" with the fuzzy Santa, velvet Christmas wreath, and Rudolph with a shiny red nose.

In the North, if you have a fur hat or coat, wear it, but a long wool coat or ruffled wool shawl will be festive, too, and of course gloves. If it snows, let it; wear your best boots and take your sparkly shoes to change into in the cloak room.

Codes + Conduct: Dress Code: Country Club: Teenage Dance
Q What suggestions do you have for my son to wear to his high school baccalaureate service at 5pm followed by a dance at a country club at 7pm? He is at boarding school in VA & this will be Memorial Day weekend.

A Your son should have been or will be given the dress code by his school for commencement. If it isn't given, then it is assumed that he knows to wear a navy blue blazer and good khaki pants or gray flannels, dark socks and polished dark leather shoes. His shirt should have long sleeves and a collar and it would be white or light blue. He would wear a tie with his school colors and a belt that matches the color of his shoes. At the dance, the boys might eventually take off their ties and jackets for dancing, but most country clubs require that all gentlemen wear a tie and jacket in the evening.

Codes + Conduct: Dress Code: Cowboy Boots: Texas: Woman
Q I intern at a consulting firm in Texas where a fair number of men wear cowboy boots with their business suits. Would it be acceptable for a woman to do likewise?

A There is no reason why you couldn't wear cowboy boots to work with your business suit. You already know the dressy the suit the pointier the toe. Designer suit, designer cowboy boots.

Codes + Conduct: Dress Code: Cowboy Boots: Without Socks
Q Can you wear cowboy boots without socks?

A In order to avoid getting blisters, it is best first to sprinkle body powder, such as baby powder, into the foot of the shoe and shake the sole around to distribute the powder evenly, before placing your bare foot into the boot. If that works for you.

Codes + Conduct: Dress Code: Cowboy Hats
Q What are the guidelines regarding a gentleman removing his cap or cowboy hat when meeting/greeting someone? Indoors and outdoors? At a country/western party?

A Unless he is a genuine cowboy who ropes cattle for a living, a gentleman in a cowboy hat takes it off when he is inside and when he meets or greets a woman on the street. At a country/western party, a cowboy hat might be considered part of his costume, like a fireman's helmet or a green beret. Men who dress in expensive cowboy boots and hats and wear suits are not classified as true cowboys so their hat comes off.

Codes + Conduct: Dress Code: Creative Black Tie
Q The invitation to a charity event says "Creative Black Tie" The event is a cocktail-type party held outside at a ballpark in the spring in the Midwest (could be beautiful weather or hot or cold). What do we wear?

A A great pair of pants or a beautiful skirt, with a sexy, yet flattering top and sparkling flats with a small clutch would be just the look. A beautiful pashmina or sweater could be worn off the shoulders or buttoned-up. When using the dress code "Creative Black Tie," the hosts want you to be festively dressed for a fun time, with the emphasis on fun. Don't get caught up in the tuxedo-evening dress connotation associated with Black Tie. They want you to be nicely dressed, no cut-offs or cargo pants or denim unless they are sparkling and from Italy.

Codes + Conduct: Dress Code: Dazed + Confused

A My advice to you would be to go to a newsstand and buy some fashion magazines for someone your age and size and look for a "look," that suits you and emulate it. I don't know what you look like, your size, or your age, and I have no idea where you live or what climate. If you live in Florida, I guess your wardrobe is all right but if you live in a big city in the Northeast, you might not wear tank tops to work. To look professional, go to a Ralph Lauren boutique and see what is being sold to young professionals, then go back and look at your wardrobe and see how you can take what you have to make you look like a Ralph Lauren ad. Other good looks for stylish professional young women come from Marc Jacobs and Theory. Forget about trying to look sexy in the work place.

Codes + Conduct: Dress Code: Dinner Attire
Q I have recieved a wedding invitation for a 5 pm wedding with "dinner attire". What is "dinner attire"?

A "Dinner Attire" means that the men are expected to wear either a dinner jacket or a lightweight suit and the women are expected to wear a short evening dress or a dressy dinner suit. This is not a "Black tie" wedding, but since it is most likely a seated, candlelit dinner, you would dress-up just the same; however, you wouldn't wear a tuxedo or an evening gown.

Codes + Conduct: Dress Code: Dinner Party: August
Q I have been invited to a dinner party which starts at 7:00 p.m. next week. No dress code has been given. I want to wear a linen mid-dark khaki skirt with ruffle, knee-length, off-white slightly embellished (shiny no beads) scoop neck T shirt-type top of good quality, and a silver loop chain belt and slip-on heeled sandals. Would this be appropriate - I would usually wear black and white, etc.

thank you

A Your outfit for the dinner party sounds really perfect for this time of year. I hear you about black, but it's good to take advantage of the mild weather by wearing linen, my favorite summer fabric. The only thing I'm not sure of is the color of the shiny embellishment clashing with the chain belt. For instance, you don't want to mix brass with a silver tone, and with that in mind, think about the jewelry. You want all these shiny accessories to work together and not be fighting one another for attention. My best advice on this is to get dressed, look in a long mirror, and take off one shiny accessory.

Codes + Conduct: Dress Code: Dinner Reception: Black Hose
Q I am going to the Midwest for a evening dinner reception for a couple 66. My dress is a black short cocktail dress with black closed shoes. I will need to wear hose, do I wear black or hose that make my legs look natural tan? It is in the late springtime.

A It's best to wear legwear a shade lighter than your skin tone with a bit of shine to it to dress up your legs. Quality legwear will help shape your legs; see what I mean by viewing the Web site. Shapewear and legwear with shape enhancement are a good investment. Late spring is too late to wear sheer black legwear unless it is very, very sheer or has a pretty pattern. You don't want to be wearing black matte stockings. Nor do you want to be wearing bronze legwear.

Codes + Conduct: Dress Code: Dinner Suit
Q I need the proper term for business dinner dress. It isn't black tie but a little more than business dress.

A Perhaps you are looking for the phrase "dinner suit," which is a well-cut jacket with either a matching dress or skirt, usually in a quality fabric, often with decorative buttons on the jacket.

Codes + Conduct: Dress Code: Dinner Suit
Q What is the proper form for a dress code where the men wear suits with tie and the ladies cocktail dresses?

A Invitations that dictate a dress code that is not formal are demeaning to the guests because it makes them think that the host doesn't think that they know how to dress. It is one thing if you state a dress code with humor, as in "Creative Black Tie," "Festive Attire," or "No Ties or Socks" for, say, an after-wedding brunch. The style and wording of the invitation itself should tell guests how you want them to dress. For instance, if it is a "barbecue," they won't be expected to wear ties and jackets. If the invitation is inviting them to a "Cocktail Buffet," "Dinner Dance," or "Dinner Reception," you can be assured that guests will know that ties and jackets are expected. Also, the date and times of the party will give guests hints. For instance for a cocktail party after work, it would be expected that most guests are coming straight from the office. Proper dress code etiquette is not being condescending to your guests; it lets them decide from the quality and wording of the invitation that they should wear their best cocktail suit or dress. The ladies' cocktail dress part is trickier because many older women seem to prefer pant suits or dressy tunics with beautiful slacks instead of flirty dresses.

Codes + Conduct: Dress Code: Dinner: October: Virginia: Black Cotton Dress
Q Can I wear a dressy black cotton dress for dinner in Oct. at a resort in Virginia?

A Classy is a big word with not that many letters. Black is always chic. There is nothing wrong with cotton. A cotton black dress is perfectly acceptable. What's important here about wearing a dress to a dinner at a Virginia resort is the quality of the design and the the fit of the dress. If the dress wears you, it's not good. If the dress is tailored to flatter your figure, then wear it.

Codes + Conduct: Dress Code: Dress Cool
Q ...and regarding dress code........the other day, i got one that said: dress cool!

A Wear your favorite new outfit.

Codes + Conduct: Dress Code: Dress Hem Length
Q I am a 60-yr-old woman and like the hi-low hem dresses, but don't know if it is age appropriate. . .I am 5'1'' - 180lbs. . .

A Hem your dress to mid-knee length or slightly lower. If you like your knees, mid-length. Otherwise, just below the knee, but no lower, because then you could look dowdy.

Sorry, for the delay but I live on an island and have been without Internet for several days.

We like hearing from you.

Didi Lorillard

Codes + Conduct: Dress Code: Dressing for an Off Broadway Musical
Q What should one wear to an Off Broadway musical?

A To an Off Broadway musical, "anything goes"---just about. That is you might dress as if you were going to an informal cocktail party or with bohemian flair. You will find some people have come straight from work in their well cut business suits and others are more relaxed.

Codes + Conduct: Dress Code: Dressy Casual Hip Chic
Q I am going to fashion show after party in NYC, they say "dressy casual hip chic"; what does that mean?

A "Dressy" combined with "casual" means that a man is expected to wear a blazer, but not necessarily a tie. It also insinuates that the host would rather you didn't wear jeans, a tee-shirt, or flip-flops, but doesn't care if you wear socks or not, as long as you are wearing good shoes and a really good, colorful shirt with stripes and an open collar.

For a woman, the "hip chic" look this fall is a very short skirt with tall boots. Alternatively, ballet flats that sparkle with studs, rhinestones, or bits of glitter. Cocktail rings are definitely back and they don't have to be real. Please, do think about your outfit in terms of color, texture, and balance. Earthy tones or jungle animal stripes or spots accessorized with a shimmer of glitz.

Your host is encouraging his guests to dress creatively. Even though this is not a formal party, he is asking guests to change out of their business suits into something less stuffy and more imaginative. Nevertheless, you won't be "hip" or "chic," if you dress-up in a silly costume. Don't overdress; however, do show that you are dignified but have a bit of pizzaz.

Codes + Conduct: Dress Code: Dressy Casual or Tastefully Dressed
Q What is the proper way to convey the attire for an afternoon (12 noon until five o'clock) 50th wedding anniversary party? We do not want it to be formal but do not want people to show up wearing daisy dukes either.

Is dressy casual or tastefully dressed appropriate?

A In my opinion, the safest dress code to give would be "Jacket and Tie." That way the men can still wear khaki pants and loafers, but they'll have to wear a jacket, a collared shirt, and a tie out of respect for the honorees. If you state that the dress code is ties and jackets, then the women will know that they can't wear bare midriffs, short shorts, or frayed jeans. Don't forget, men can always loosen their ties and take off their jackets if there is dancing. Alternatively, you can just put "Jacket, please," or "Jacket Required," which means, once again, they have to look nice but they can't come in tank tops and cargo pants. Basically, you want the men to walk in with jackets on; if they don't wear a tie or if they take off the tie, it isn't important for an afternoon party. The problem I see with expressions such as "dressy casual" or "tastefully dressed" is that they are subjective. it is still too undefined. Who is to be the arbitrator of "tastefully dressed?" You can have a very dressy top that shows a bulging, tattooed bare midriff. In my opinion, "dressy casual" sounds like an oxymoron; you want guests to be dressy, but also casual? Set the dress code with "Jacket & Tie." Since I don't know how formal the party is, you might want to go back to my website, click-on "Frequently Asked Questions" and look through the "dress codes" for a description that fits the kind of party that you are hosting before making your decision.

Codes + Conduct: Dress Code: Fancy Dress
Q Invited to a gala benefit. Invitation says "fancy dress". How fancy is that for women and men?

A A man would wear a tuxedo and a woman would wear a fancy dress, either an evening dress or a very dressy dinner suit. Your host wants guests to get very dressed up for a glamorous party, so bring out the jewels, dressy evening bag and Manalos.

Codes + Conduct: Dress Code: Fashion Dos + Don'ts
Q Dear Didi,
I am a 57-year-old woman, 5'11" tall, size 4 or 6, athletic built. Living in the Northeast. What clothing is not appropriate for my age? I am quite conservative but still worry about crossing that line. Is there a hard and fast rule that applies?
Thank you for your help.

A Do you have a specific event you're dressing for? In general, I'm a huge fan of skirt suits, dressy with a low neckline and three-quarter-length sleeves for evening, or as business attire for day. A woman that age feels secure in a skirt suit. A beautifully made skirt suit is affirmation that she is a woman of the world. She can afford a good suit, and she's going somewhere where the suit is appropriate. For evening, I love the look of a bold satin fashion blouse (no buttons)in one of the sold jewel colors, with a black pencil skirt and beautiful shoes. Always beautiful shoes and and a fabulous bag for day, a smaller clutch for evening. As a city girl, I love having a really good black waterproof coat with a fur lining on the stormy night when you can't find a cab.

When you ask about a hard fast rule that applies, it is easier to give the don'ts. A cheap print blouse, skirt or dress can age a woman ten years. Ethnic print dresses and tunics past a certain age look like costumes. Stay away from the neon colors of teen fashion. Forget mini-skirts or micro-shorts. Don't feel you have to wear "fun" clothes. Driving loafers and flats suit every body. No matter how small or how hugely you are endowed, not wearing a bra is a big mistake. Don't overdo it with the jewelry: wear a necklace but not earrings at the same time, and never rings on every finger. Fanny packs or fanc money belts are too practical to be attractive, and once you've graduated from college, ditch the backpack. Leggings are usually not a good look on anyone. Flip-flops will always bring your look down. Wear a leather jacket or pants, but never a leather suit. Leopardskin dresses with plunging necklines are too sexy to be sexy. Too many mixed materials, such as satin and velvet, chiffon, and tweed is fabric overdose.

Keep to the basics, no flouncy dresses. Keep it ultra simple if you're not sure about the dress code, and always have great shoes. It's better to have one pair of really beautiful shoes than a closet full of duds. Most women think they look better in heels, but they probably don't. Always have a little black dress, it is an open secret: we all know it will save us whatever the situation and wherever the location, season, time of day, or people we're with. Stay away from logos, bling and glitter because you never want to look as though you're trying to look rich.

Codes + Conduct: Dress Code: Fashion Dos and Don'ts: !3-Year-Old Girl
Q I'm 13 & a girl, I want to know the do's and don'ts of fashion. I like to wear clothes that people at school wouldn't wear, but look good, like some people just wear a tee shirt with jeans. I don't like to do that. Also could you tell me how to put good outfits together. Thanks:)

A A fun inexpensive way to bring a pop to your wardrobe is to dress in block colors. For instance, wear a pair of red slim fit pants with a turquoise sweater, a navy blue skirt with a red turtle neck and cardigan. When you have articles of clothing in bold solid colors, it is easier to mix and match tops and bottoms. Then you can look for fun tights and sweater in stripes or patterns to wear with your mixed solid colored basics. Look for pop colors such as fuchsia, cobalt blue, canary yellow, lime or emerald green, but don't forget the basics navy blue, black, white, gray, red and pink. Make your eyes pop without wearing eye makeup by wearing tops in shades of blues if your eyes are blue, green, if they're green, or reds, pinks, yellows, and browns, if they're brown.

Don't wear skirts and dresses that are shorter than two inches above your knees even if you wear tights, because when you're seated the dress will look much shorter. Don't wear tank tops or other shirts that show bare skin because teachers don't approve of provocative clothing and will hold that against you. Don't wear torn, ripped or dirty clothing. Don't wear clothing with slogans, logos, or brand names because you want to create your own identity and not use someone else's.

Fashion isn't just about clothing, it's the whole look. If you are not well-groomed, that's what people will remember and not what you're wearing. Brush your teeth twice a day, wash your face twice a day so you don't get acne, wear a gentle moisturizer with sunscreen, and wash your hair when the roots look greasy. Find a gentle deodorant and wear it every day. Good grooming means you wouldn't wear tights with runs or shoes with scuffs. Keep jewelry to a minimum because you don't want to look as though you are trying too hard.

Sometime when you're in between classes, or waiting for a friend, stand to the side and observe what the other girls are wearing. Take note of details. You'll see looks you definitely don't like that just aren't you, and you'll see looks that you will want to emulate. Girls have nuances in the way they dress that distinguish cliques. You might notice that girls in a clique all either roll or fold down their gym socks in a certain way, or they all have the same parka but maybe in different colors, or they all wear the same style shoe or hair ornament. There's always a vogue in pant legs, wide pant legs will make you look shorter; slimmer pant legs will elongate your look. Even if everyone's wearing wide leg pants, if you're short, don't wear wide legged pants. You also don't want to wear pants that are so low-waisted your panties show when you bend over to pick up your pencil.

After you've made a study of looks you like that will be flattering, then you're ready to start dressing fashionably.

Codes + Conduct: Dress Code: Father Daughter Dance
Q My ten-year-old daughter has to go to father-daughter dance for school. What is the proper attire for the father to wear? Does this require a tie? They were told dance attire.

A Your daughter's father should wear a tie and jacket. Remind him that he can always take off his jacket and place his folded tie in the pocket, if he sees other fathers taking off theirs. He can wear dress khakis, but not jeans. He wouldn't wear sneakers because leather shoes would slide best on the wooden gym floor. If you're in doubt, call the principal's office and ask her assistant what the dress code is for the dance.

Codes + Conduct: Dress Code: Fiftieth Anniversary: Wife
Q Dear Didi,
We shall be celebrating our 50th wedding anniversary soon, my wife bought a beautiful dress, it is ivory/white but
has some silver glitter at the waist, it is great and she liked it. Now she is having second thoughts, she thinks that because it has some silver on the dress it is not suitable. Is she right in her thinking? Do we have to go and buy another dress with gold?. The current dress has already cost us over $750.

Please help me resolve this and thank you.


A The white dress with silver accenting sounds stunning. Traditionally, as you know, the bride was presented with a wreath of gold on her fiftieth wedding anniversary. However, since your wife already has the white/silver dress, why not focus on the flowers for the fiftieth which are yellow roses (or violets)?

The important point that I need you to consider is your wife's coloring, and so if her hair is white or pale, the white and silver dress would be more flattering than a brassy gold dress.

Gold and silver are often worn together, so please don't fret. Celebrate your golden wedding anniversary knowing that your wife will be looking gorgeous.

Codes + Conduct: Dress Code: Finding Your Own Style
Q I want to be perfect in choosing clothes, in colour scheme - and in every design.

A Start by buying several fashion magazines directed to you. As I do not know your gender, age, or size I can't tell you what to do. Go to a large newsstand, the type one finds at an airport, and look for magazines that represent you. Flip through them. Look at the styles. Read the articles. Then when you find a look you like, the magazines will give you the information of where to locate the clothing.

Codes + Conduct: Dress Code: Floridian Formal
Q What is considered Floridian Formal?

A Instead of 'Black Tie,' meaning a formal black tuxedo, a man would wear a white, off-white, or cream colored dinner jacket with black tuxedo trousers, or colored formal trousers, and a black or colored bow tie. Black shoes would be slip-ons as opposed to lace-ups.

We like hearing from you.

Didi Lorillard

Codes + Conduct: Dress Code: Fundraiser: Casual Summer Wear
Q What to wear for a "casual summer wear" fundraiser at a home 6-8pm. Thank you.

A An open collar dress shirt with khakis, white or colored pants, a summer blazer or jacket, and loafers or docksiders without socks. It basically means no suits, ties or socks. Nonetheless, as it is a fundraiser you wouldn't wear flip-flops, a baseball cap, cargo pants, sneakers, ripped jeans, or a t-shirt.

Codes + Conduct: Dress Code: Funeral Attire In Warm Weather
Q Funeral attire for male and female at an April funeral in Palm Springs, California?

A If you are members of the family, you might wear dark suits. The man might wear a dark summer suit, a gray lightweight suit, or a khaki suit, with dark shoes, matching dark socks and a leather belt or suspenders, a good collared shirt, and the tie of your choice. The woman might wear a well-cut, lightweight navy blue, gray, green, blue, or beige skirt-suit, with or without a scarf; or a dress with at least a short sleeve, preferably a coat dress, or a sleeveless dress with a jacket, with or without a hat. Wear minimal jewelry, and simple beige or black bag and low heeled sling-back shoes, which are always comfortable and yet attractive when one is on one's feet for a good part of the day. I always think short, off-white gloves add a touch of elegance to a woman at a funeral, so if you have them you might wear them. Since it might end up being a long day, it would be best if you wore layers so that whether you are in air-conditioned areas or outside at the graveside, you will be comfortable, which is why suits might be the best funeral attire for a man or a woman.

Codes + Conduct: Dress Code: Gala Tropical
Q We have been invited to a reception and for dress code we were given the words Gala Tropical. What should my husband and I wear?

A If your husband has a white suit, or better yet a white dinner jacket, either would be perfect for him. For a tropical party you would wear a short strapless dress in tropical colors and strappy sandals. Even if your husband just has a tropical shirt, also called a Hawaiian shirt, or a nice linen shirt to wear with white or colored trousers, that would fine. If he has white bucks, all the better. Your host probably does not want you to have to go out and buy an outfit, so wear what you might put on to dine at an upscale restaurant on your Caribbean honeymoon. "Tropical" means that your host wants you to dress for warm weather fun and dancing. "Gala" means that you are to wear festive attire.

Codes + Conduct: Dress Code: Gala: Age 13
Q I am 14 and I don't own any dress and I was invited to a gala. I was wondering if it's ok if I wore a dress pant.

A When you are 14, you are the style setter. Don't let anyone tell you differently. Go with whatever style of dress pant that expresses who you are best.

Codes + Conduct: Dress Code: Gaudy Colors
Q This matter is probably a beauty/manners concern rather than one of etiquette. Are strong contrasts of color, other than black with white, in one's dress, a room, or for anything not found in nature, gaudy?

A It is difficult to achieve except for something one-time temporary and deliberate, like party decoration, and then should be used unabashedly. Any strong color and white would be much easier to get right on this basis than two colors. But it has been done well. Look at Manuel Canovas' toiles in burgundy on orange, purple on yellow. Strong color is reappearing in decoration and (more slowly) in dress and is looking fresh, dynamic and welcoming. Don't discount it but be careful with it.

Codes + Conduct: Dress Code: Gloves + Rings
Q Please forgive me if this is something I overlooked in reading through the page provided. I am curious as to what is appropriate in wearing gloves for any occasion<(wedding or funeral), as far as rings are concerned. I have seen rings worn under as well as outside of the gloved hand and wondered which was appropriate. Thank you.

A In my opinion, one would never wear a ring over a glove. It would be perceived by all as being incredibly tacky. The exception would be if you were going to a costume party dressed as Marilyn Monroe. Only then would you be considered chic. Marilyn Monroe could get away with it. You might not be so lucky.

Codes + Conduct: Dress Code: Graduation: 9:30 AM
Q Is is appropriate to wear a white chiffon sleeveless, above the knee dress to a graduation ceremony at 9:30 in the morning?

A As long as the white chiffon sleeveless dress is not strapless, it should be fine. Chiffon is a dressy fabric, so dress it down with a white cotton cardigan sweater, cropped or regular length, and wear tan or nude colored ballerina flats or pumps. High heels would be too dressy. Very little jewelry. The length of the dress shouldn't be shorter than two inches above the knee.

We like hearing from you.

Didi Lorillard
Newport Manners

Codes + Conduct: Dress Code: Green Fashion
Q I have a friend that just purchased a new wool jacket and insists that she should keep the 100% wool label on the outside of the arm of the jacket. Is this the new fashion?

A Yes, proudly sporting Green fashion is very popular. One hundred percent wool means there are no synthetic materials in the fabric, and, therefore, it is an environmentally correct jacket which for many of us is a badge of honor.

Codes + Conduct: Dress Code: Half Mask
Q What is "half mask"?

A "Half mask" means that your eyes are hidden. For instance, Zorro wore a black half mask that just covered his eyes. A full mask would cover the nose, and perhaps the forehead, cheeks, and chin.

Codes + Conduct: Dress Code: Handbags
Q Handbags and shoulder bags. Can each type of bag be used with slacks and with a dress/skirt? I'm going to call a handbag, which may be the correct definition anyway, as a short-strap bag held in the hand. A shoulder bag, likewise, would be a long-strap bag placed on the shoulder. Is it ok to pair a handbag with slacks? Conversely, may I use a shoulder bag with a skirt or dress? If so, should the shoulder bag not extend beyond the waist? Some shoulder bags have extra long straps and the "bag" portion is usually small, flat, and square-ish. Is the latter type worn across the body?

To me, a woman's choice of purse either gives her a cumbersome appearance or a look of someone who's got it together; there's no middle ground.

A Yes, but why not include the clutch bag. With slacks use either a clutch or a shoulder bag. It would depend upon the size of the shoulder bag you use with a skirt or dress. For instance, a dressy evening bag on a long chain that hits just below the waist looks great because it swings with you when you walk. Shoulder bags need to be in proportion to the size of the woman. When short women wear large shoulder bags or handbags, they look as if they are being weighed down by the bag. Short women should only wear small, short shoulder bags, small hand bags, and clutches. Medium sized women look best with small to medium size shoulder bags, handbags and clutches. The big bags that are so popular today look great on models because they can carry the bulk with grace, whereas shorter women look over-burdened with a big bag hanging from their shoulder or fist. So, it is not so much about whether a big, long bag is bad or good, it purely depends upon the build of the woman. The taller the woman, the less important the size of the bag. The shorter the woman, the more she needs to be aware of proportions.

Codes + Conduct: Dress Code: Hat Etiquette
Q What is hat etiquette for men and women here in the US?

A Don't get me started on the subject of men in hats because I don't like baseball caps indoors or knit hats at all. Cowboy hats are for cowboys. I once had to advise a mother about teaching her three lads cowboy hat etiquette. I also advised on a dress straw cowboy hat to be worn with a tuxedo and cowboy boots by a Texan going on a private Caribbean party cruise.

Let's not forget the boater, deerstalker, derby, fedora, homburg, Panama, and top hat (stovepipe). All have their time and place. There is also a time and place when a hat is worn and when it is taken off. During the day, I quite like a medium-to-narrow brimmed hat on a man in a material that suits the climate, such as a soft felt or straw hat in the shape of a derby or fedora.

As for gentleman hat etiquette, unless you're a cowboy, the only hat a man would wear in the evening is a top hat or stovepipe, which is made of stiff felt with a tall, pipe-shaped crown and flat brim. When it's collapsible, it's called an "opera hat."

Ladies hats are a must certainly in summer and in a warm climate. A straw beach hat has the widest brim, a garden hat has a slightly narrower brim and evening hats have no brim at all.

Fascinators are fashionable right now, especially for weddings and fancy dress parties. A fascinator is a chic, exquisitely decorated headband that can be worn at luncheons, teas, cocktails, and fancy dress balls. They're great for covering roots that need touching up and to make shorter women look taller, and they save the day when you're at a destination wedding and can't get a hairdresser appointment.

With hats it's the same as with handbags, select the best materials and style to suit the time and place. Since the fifties, hat etiquette has changed considerably; for instance one rarely sees a man tip his hat when greeting or being introduced.

In cities and at ski resorts, fur and fake fur hats are popular and look great, although I'm against raising furry animals for fashion accessories and coats and no longer would wear one myself. In winter the great luxury hat after fur is, of course, made of velvet.

To loosely quote Christian Dior, the line of the hat is just as important as the line of your dress. Stay away from hats that are just "shapes" cluttered with decorations such as feathers and flowers. "If a hat has a good line, it will be attractive without any trimmings at all."

One could write a whole book on hat etiquette, which I can't do here.

Codes + Conduct: Dress Code: Hats
Q What is proper hat wearing etiquette?

A Hats can be functional, festive, and fancy. Used primarily to shelter the head from the sun, wind, rain and snow, they are fashioned accordingly. As a matter of respect, men remove their hats when they enter a private home, restaurant, church, private club, theater, airplane and funeral parlor. Women wear hats for many of the same reasons men do but they also use them to accessorize---for instance, at church, a garden party, outdoor sport event, wedding. In choosing a hat you might use these guidelines:

Don't wear a hat with a crown that is too deep for the shape of your head: the crown like your hair style follows the contour of your crown.

Your hat should match or blend with the color of your bag and shoes.

Codes + Conduct: Dress Code: Hats + Caps Indoors
Q So many men today wear hats or caps indoors. Many celerbritiees set the style. Is it still inappropriate for men to wear their hats indoors?

A Men should leave their hats and cap at the door; however, the trend is that caps are cool. I think it is because many young men can't face the fact that their hairlines are receding and they think they are covering it up by wearing a cap. A guy with great hair doesn't wear a cap.

Codes + Conduct: Dress Code: Hats and Sandals
Q Can I wear a hat with sandals or must it be with shoes?

A Assuming you're in a warm climate where sandals are worn day in and day out, hats are always good for keeping the sun off the face and as a lovely accessory.

Codes + Conduct: Dress Code: Hats Off + Hats On
Q Proper hat wearing - when not to wear a hat - hats on or off in church?

A A man takes off his hat when he goes inside a church, restaurant, or private home; the exceptions might be public places such as a train station, subway, mall, department store, supermarket, or airport. A woman might leave her hat on in church, in a restaurant and in a private home and club.

Codes + Conduct: Dress Code: High Tea
Q What do I wear to High Tea?

A Not your Janis Joplin costume. Seriously, it would depend upon the time of year and the weather. A seasonal suit would be perfect and if you wanted to wear a hat, you could. The days of wearing matching shoes and bags and little white kid gloves are behind us, but that would be the look your hostess would be trying to create. A cashmere sweater set with pearls and an A-line skirt and pumps would be appropriate, too. You wouldn't wear the family jewels, but you would be very well groomed.

Codes + Conduct: Dress Code: How to Wear a College Ring
Q What is the proper way to wear a college ring before and after graduation?

A Customarily, you would wear a college ring on the left ring finger before graduation, with the name of the school facing you. After graduation, switch the ring to the ring finger of the right hand, with the name of the school facing away from you.

Traditionally, most women wear their college ring only until they get married (a college ring looks silly juxtaposed against an engagement ring); men may wear it after they get married, but should be careful that it complements their wedding band (e.g., both are gold).

Codes + Conduct: Dress Code: Jacket Versus Overcoat
Q Is it ok to wear a beige overcoat with a white button down and dress pants or should I wear a black leather jacket?

A It would depend upon the time of day, the climate, the occasion, and gender of the person. If it's snowing outside, you'll need the overcoat. Really cold, you could wear a thin black leather jacket under an overcoat. Men and women wear suit jackets and blazers under their overcoats all winter long. If you're attending a cocktail party or doing in an upscale restaurant, jackets could well be the dress code for the men.

Codes + Conduct: Dress Code: Jeans
Q I have been invited to a suite in a sports arena--we will be watching the game--can my husband and I wear jeans with nice shirts and sweaters???

A Yes. Nowadays, jeans are not considered work clothes the way they used to be. In this day and age, the fashion experts say that you can wear nice jeans with good shoes and a top on the red carpet. Carry a nice bag and wear one good piece of jewelry. Your husband might wear a sports jacket and good leather shoes and belt.

Codes + Conduct: Dress Code: Jeans and Jewels
Q Didi, I am a 31-year-old female small business owner. I am attending an Awards Banquet, which in previous years has been a cocktail reception, followed by a formal sit down dinner, and dancing with a live band. In previous years, I have dressed in semi-formal/cocktail dresses.

This years theme is "Jeans and Jewels." I'm struggling with what to wear. How can I keep consistent with the theme, while remaining cocktail party appropriate? I think they intend for a country western theme, but cowboy boots just don't seem appropriate. I don't want to appear "costumed."

Please help. Thank you in advance.

A You don't have to wear jeans or cowboy boots, go with the jewels. A chic cocktail dress, that falls just above the your knee, with a fabulous jewel necklace (that doesn't have to be real) would work. Give your legs a jeweled shine with legwear ( a shade lighter than your skin tone that has a shine and shimmer to it. Your small clutch can have a jewel clasp.

Codes + Conduct: Dress Code: Kids + Patent Leather Shoes
Q When can a child wear patent leather shoes? And when are they out of season? Thank You

A Black and red patent leather shoes are worn during the winter months and white, red, pink and light blue patent leather are for spring and summer.

Codes + Conduct: Dress Code: Legwear for Over 60
Q Should a 60-year-old woman go bare-legged with a dress or should they wear hose?

A If your legs are toned, well-groomed, meaning buffed, therefore shimmery, you should not have to wear legwear.

Codes + Conduct: Dress Code: Linen: May Through October
Q When is the last chance to wear linen? I live in Los Angeles, Ca.

A Linen is such a fabulous luxury fabric, is worn practically year round especially in the darker colors, and it is fine for October when it can be really hot in LA. But you wouldn't wear it during the winter holidays. There are no rules carved in stone, but it is what we call a six month luxury fabric, worn from May though October. The way velvet and fur are more apt to be worn during the cooler months of November through April.

Codes + Conduct: Dress Code: Linen: Seasonal
Q When is it okay to start wearing linen? In the past it has always been Memorial Day to Labor Day. Does that still apply?
I'm going to spend a week, mid-May in NYC, and want opinion on linen pants.


A There is nothing finer, more comfortable, and chicer than linen pants on a hot day because they feel cool and they look fresh. Mid-May in NYC is rarely hot. Let's put it this way, by all means wear your linen pants in mid-May, if they are lined. Why not check out the weather in NYC before you pack your bag? The Memorial Day to Labor Day rule is not carved in stone. It really just has to do with the weather and whether your linen pants are lined or not.

Codes + Conduct: Dress Code: Luncheon
Q What should you wear when you are not sure what everyone else is wearing? For example: When you are going out to a luncheon and you are invited as a guest because you are dating someone in their family but have never met them. OR If a friend calls you that you haven't heard or seen in a while and asks you out to lunch to a resturant you've never been to?

A The trick is to figure out the dress code of the restaurant. If you do not know the restaurant, try looking the restaurant up online, or stop by and check out the site in person. If the waiters are dressed in white jackets and there are table cloths on the tables, you would dress up. In other words, if it is a luncheon, you would dress as if you were going to church or to a lunch wedding. Meaning, you would not wear jeans or be showing a lot of skin, unless it is a hot summer day when there is nothing fresher than a cotton summer dress. However, if you are sure the restaurant is air conditioned, then you might want to bring a cotton sweater, pretty jacket or blazer in case you get seated in a cold spot. If you are being treated to lunch, you would dress up.

Codes + Conduct: Dress Code: Male: Awards Ceremony
Q I have been invited to attend an award ceremony for a friend presented by the ACLU in Northern California - held at a Unitarian Church beginning at 1:30 on a Saturday - I am a middle-aged male from the deep South and have no clue what to wear?

A If you have a suit, wear it. You don't necessarily have to wear a tie, but a suit with a collar would be fine. Alternatively, you can wear a jacket with khaki pants and a tie; you can always take off the tie and leave it in your car. Somehow people always seem to feel more comfortable slightly overdressed than underdressed. The dress code you're going for is Business Casual. There is a certain formality and respect that is expected at a ceremony of most any kind.

You don't want to wear shorts, flip-flops, a baseball cap, or a t-shirt.

Codes + Conduct: Dress Code: Meet and Greet: Newport Casual
Q My husband and I are new to the Newport area - we are in our early 30s. We have been invited to a Welcome/"Meet and Greet" reception at the home of my husband's boss (all active duty military) in a few weeks. The dress code states "Newport Casual." What would be appropriate for us to wear? Thank you for your help!

A Welcome to Newport! I hope that you'll love it here as much as we do. You've come at just the right time of year.

"Newport Casual" means that your husband would wear good khaki pants with a navy blue blazer, if he has them. He won't need to wear a tie, but he should have a collared shirt that doesn't have a button-down collar. The color of his shoes should match the color of his belt, so if he has brown loafers or docksiders, they would be fine with navy blue or khaki socks. If the weather is still mild, he doesn't need to wear socks, because casual dressing in Newport for men means that they don't have to wear socks or ties. However, the requisite navy blue blazer is a staple in the community here. If your husband doesn't have a navy blue blazer, he could wear any light-weight jacket or even a pullover sweater thrown casually around his neck hanging over his shoulders. When I mentioned that he should wear a collared shirt, that shirt could be a polo shirt; it doesn't necessarily have to be a classic Oxford-style, long-sleeved shirt.

He wouldn't wear jeans, a tee-shirt, shorts, or sneakers for an evening "Meet and Greet" here in Newport.

Now for the fun part. You can wear a pretty tunic with pants or a beautiful blouse with a skirt. If it is chilly, a sweater set with either pants or a skirt would be perfect. Pretty leather flats or pumps would be good with any of the above. As the season is transitioning from summer to fall, you can wear a pretty sweater over a cotton or linen dress. For another popular look for your age group, consider wearing a wrap print dress made of one of those marvelous synthetic fabrics that never looks wrinkled, with a pair of high heels.

To get a sense of what is comfortable to wear at that time of year, take a walk early one evening around the Bannister's Wharf area to see what people going into the area restaurants such as the Clarke Cooke House or The Black Pearl are wearing. That should give you some clues.

Codes + Conduct: Dress Code: Men
Q Has it now become socially acceptable to button all buttons on a suit coat? I see it happening more and more often these days.

A The custom these days is often to button the two top buttons; less frequently all three. Personally, I prefer to be old-fashioned and button only the middle button.

Codes + Conduct: Dress Code: Men + Baseball Caps
Q When do I have to take off my baseball cap? When is it unacceptable?

A In Newport, it is a sign of respect to take off your hat when you enter someone's house or when you are meeting someone in a restaurant. The purpose of a hat is to keep the sun, rain and snow off the head. Often baseball caps are warn 24/7 by young men who are insecure about their receding hairline. Once they accept that hair loss is a part of maturity, they reserve the baseball cap for sunny days.

Codes + Conduct: Dress Code: Men + Bracelets
Q Should a male wear gold bracelets(2) and a gold watch on the same arm?

A You are not going to like my answer. I am not a big fan of men wearing jewelry. The exception might be a good watch on a leather strap and silver or gold cuff links. Personally, I think bracelets on men are really tacky.

Codes + Conduct: Dress Code: Men + Hats
Q Why is it acceptable, or not acceptable, for a man to wear a cap in church?

A Men do not need to wear hats inside, so it is not acceptable for men to wear hats inside. Hats are to protect the head from the cold, rain, and the heat of the sun. It is customary for men to remove their hats when entering a private home, theater, restaurant, house of worship, etc.

Codes + Conduct: Dress Code: Men + Jeans
Q We live in an academic town and our church is rather informal. I have started wearing jeans to mass but my wife says I shouldn't wear jeans to church. Can I wear jeans to church?

A The dress code for jeans is this: If jeans are clean and pressed and can pass for dark blue slacks, then wear them to church. However, older people would feel you were being disrespectful if you wore jeans to a funeral or a holiday service. Here in Newport, jeans (no matter how expensive) are not acceptable attire at any of the private clubs or finer restaurants, and definitely not at church.

Codes + Conduct: Dress Code: Men + No Socks
Q We actually received an invitation to a brunch that said in the lower right hand corner: No socks. Do I still wear a tie and jacket or not?

A Sounds like a pretty preppy crowd. Wear a jacket, put a tie in your pocket, shine your shoes, and skip the socks.

Codes + Conduct: Dress Code: Men: Black Tie Encouraged
Q What exactly does "Black Tie Encouraged" require of me at a fundraising ball? I would like to wear a dark business suit with a bow tie. Is this appropriate? Thanks for the help.

A Guests like to know the dress code because most people want to fit in. When in doubt always overdress. When the invitation says, "Black Tie Encouraged" it means that the hosts would prefer that all the men wear tuxedos, but they do not want to deter men from attending just because they don't own a tuxedo and cannot afford to rent one. Many fundraisers include the staff and often many of the people who are being serviced by the nonprofit as guests; they want to encourage their attendance by stating "Black Tie Encouraged," which would allow them to wear attire customary to their culture. If wearing a dark business suit with a bow tie is your lifestyle, then you will fit in.

Codes + Conduct: Dress Code: Men: Black Versus Brown Shoes
Q Hello,

It seems to be the trend lately for men to wear brown shoes with both navy and grey suits. I always thought it was only acceptable for black shoes to be worn with these color suits, but perhaps I've missed something. Could you please let me know your thoughts on this?

Thank you

A In general, black should still be worn with blue suits, but not grey. Brown goes best with grey. For instance, you would never wear brown shoes with a dark blue pinstripe suit.

Codes + Conduct: Dress Code: Men: Business Attire: Flat Front Pants
Q My co-worker and I were just debating something and I thought you might be a good resource. What is your stance re: flat front pants in the workplace on men? Is it inappropriate and too casual, or is this appropriate at this time? He thinks all men should wear pleated front pants in a business setting.

A The easy answer is this: it depends upon where you work. If you are working at Goldman Sachs or White & Case, then you are going into meetings all the time and you need to be prepared during the weekdays---even though many of those workers work into the early morning and on weekends when the dress code is less formal. To be safe keep a best jacket, jacket, tie, shoes and a pair of pleated front pants in your office so that you are never caught off-guard.

The current theory is that if you are ambitious, you dress up, even on casual Fridays, but not on weekends. In other words, if you aspire to your boss's job, then dress like him. If you don't care about becoming top management, you would dress less formally.

Codes + Conduct: Dress Code: Men: Business Casual
Q As a man, I am fashion challenged and as an executive in the construction business, I am usually overdressed for meetings, etc. This particular day, I have on beige pants, a black button-down shirt, with (probably too dressy) black shoes and a black belt. Is the business casual look that I am striving to attain too much for the industry I am in? Is it possible to be too well dressed?

A Yes, it is possible to be too well-dressed. Maybe consider not wearing a tie and have your shirt open at the neck, and wear loafers.

Being well-dressed is more about the quality of the clothes and shoes that you wear than about how dressy you appear. For instance, a well-made tweed jacket with those khaki or beige pants might look less dressy, but when the quality of the tweed jacket is really good and you're wearing really good brown shoes, you will feel well-dressed, but not too dressy.

A black button-down shirt is less dressy than a collared shirt that is not buttoned down. Button-down shirts are not dress shirts and are worn in the day, but not with one's best jacket and tie. A shirt with a collar that is not buttoned down is dressier and can be worn at night with your best jacket and tie.

Codes + Conduct: Dress Code: Men: Buttons
Q What buttons do I use on a coat with three buttons?

A You would use the middle button.

Codes + Conduct: Dress Code: Men: Cowboy Hats
Q As a grandson of John B. Stetson, I was very interested to read the numerous queries on your Web site about hat eitquette, particularly with regard to western (cowboy) hats. In my experience, most working ranchers (cowboys) have as good, or better manners, than most of the young people I have met recently on Wall Street and none of those that I have known over the years have had to ask if they should remove their hat when meeting a lady (or older gentleman) or entering a building.

A Thank you for clarifying the cowboy and the hat dilemma. I always appreciate input from readers.

Codes + Conduct: Dress Code: Men: Eton Suit
Q What type of socks and shoes should be worn with an Eton suit?

A Black shoes with black socks.

Codes + Conduct: Dress Code: Men: Festive Military Dress
Q I am always amused by civilians who invite military guests with terms such as Military Dress (steel pot or stiff collar?), Highland Evening (walking the dog in the rain or dancing a reel?), and lastly Highland Dress. There are as many forms of Highland as Lowland dress today. Does Highland mean feilidh-mhor, or Tee shirts? Normally I would judge by the nature of the function but that no longer seems to be indicitive.

A Thank you so much for your opinion on festive military dress.

Codes + Conduct: Dress Code: Men: Formal Military Dress
Q I recently read with interest your letter to T&C concerning "Dressing for Dinner". I would add to your extensive list of dress codes; Evening Dress (Marine Corps.), Evening Mess/Blue Mess (ARMY), Dinner Dress (Navy. C.G. & others), Mess Dress/Dress Mess (UK) and now Combat for the occasional "dining in" while in an active war zone (not kidding). All of these are used for "formal" occasions and are fairly well understood as they are codified forms of uniforms but I have always thought it interesting that there are so many terms for what is essentially the same form of dress.

A Thank you for your input.

Codes + Conduct: Dress Code: Men: Hats, Kilts, + Military Dress
Q Dear Didi,

This is not a question but rather a comment from an fan.

I recently read with interest your letter to T&C concerning "Dressing for Dinner". I would add to your extensive list of dress codes; Evening Dress (Marine Corps.), Evening Mess/Blue Mess (ARMY), Dinner Dress (Navy. C.G. & others), Mess Dress/Dress Mess (UK) and now Combat for the occasional "dining in" while in an active war zone (not kidding). All of these are used for "formal" occasions and are fairly well understood as they are codified forms of uniforms, but I have always thought it interesting that there are so many terms for what is essentially the same form of dress.

I am always amused by civilians who invite military guests with terms such as Military Dress (steel pot or stiff collar?), Highland Evening (walking the dog in the rain or dancing a reel?), and lastly Highland Dress. There are as many forms of Highland as Lowland dress today. Does Highland mean feilidh-mhor, or Tee shirts? Normally I would judge by the nature of the function but that no longer seems to be indicitive.

Lastly, as a grandson of John B. Stetson, I was very interested to read the numerous quiries on your Web site about hat eitquette, particularly with regard to western (cowboy) hats. In my experience, most working ranchers (cowboys) have as good, or better manners, than most of the young people I have met recently on Wall Street and none of those that I have known over the years have had to ask if they should remove their hat when meeting a lady (or older gentleman) or entering a building.

Best regards,
Lewis Stetson Allen

A Thank you so much, I greatly appreciate your input. I would welcome any additional suggestions that you might have. As you see, my archives are a learning process for myself and research for my book, Newport Etiquette & Modern Manners. I would love to incorporate your suggestions into my dress code section. Having been to Texas once for a long weekend wedding, I never saw a hat and therefore assumed that the country club set didn't wear hats. I would love to post your suggestons on my site, if that's all right with you?

Most Sincerely,
Didi Lorillard

Codes + Conduct: Dress Code: Men: Loafers
Q What does it say about a man who wears loafers?

A It shows he has a great sense of style. They are multi-purpose, but usually you would not wear them with a suit.

Codes + Conduct: Dress Code: Men: Pants: Flat or Pleated
Q My co-worker and I have a debate going on about which is better flat front or pleated front pants? What's your opinion?

A I like both flat front and pleated front trousers, but it depends on the man. Flat front pants look great on slim men, but they're not as flattering on heavy men. I also think flat front looks more hip/youthful. Pleated trousers have a slimming effect, particularly on someone carrying a few extra pounds. Flat front and pleated front trousers are equally dressy/casual. You can buy suits with either and you can buy casual trousers with either. Some men always make a distinction between their white tie trousers (pleated and visible, since they're not covered by the front of the jacket) and his black-tie trousers (flat front and covered by the front of the jacket), although I have no idea whether that's just a particular distinction or tradition.

Codes + Conduct: Dress Code: Men: Pocket Square
Q What is the proper color pocket square to wear? White or match the color of the tie? And should it not be worn at all with a tuxedo?

A In my opinion, white is the safest way to go. It is so much more difficult to find a colored pocket square that matches your tie. You don't have to wear a pocket square with a tuxedo unless you are anticipating having to mop your brow, in which case the square is better left in a side pocket.

Codes + Conduct: Dress Code: Men: Removing Your Coat
Q Can one remove his coat while at the table?

A You would hang up your coat in the entrance way of a restaurant or in the coat closet of a private house. If your host removes his jacket, then you can remove yours. If your host hasn't removed his jacket and you are uncomfortable, then ask your host or hostess if she or he wouldn't mind if you took off your jacket.

Codes + Conduct: Dress Code: Men: Seersucker Suit
Q I am going to a wedding in Savannah GA. the last week of July. It will be hot and muggy, but the wedding is at 6:30 which is a evening event, even though the sun will still be bright. Is it ok to still wear my Seer Sucker suit??

A In my opinion, seersucker is too informal for an evening wedding. Remember that the South tends to be more formal than the North. You wouldn't wear a seersucker suit to an evening wedding. You will find that most men will be in white linen suits. You need not worry too much about the heat because everything in the South is air-conditioned and no one living in the South would plan an outdoor wedding at the peak of the summer. If you don't want to purchase a linen suit for the occasion, you can wear a linen jacket or a lightweight navy blue blazer with cream colored or white slacks.

Codes + Conduct: Dress Code: Men: Seersucker Suits
Q What's the skinny on seersucker? My son wants to wear a seersucker suit to his prom, which is being held at the country club. We live in Savannah, GA. Would a seersucker suit be appropriate? It is not a black-tie prom.

A A lot of people like seersucker. It's a uniquely American fabric, very comfortable in the summer and looks great with white bucks and a bright tie. But it's less formal than a dark suit so people are sometimes confused about when and where to wear it. I think seersucker, like linen, is more appropriate for social events (cocktail parties, outdoor weddings and other celebrations, church) than business events, although you do see seersucker around some offices in the summer. It also depends where you live; a seersucker suit in downtown Atlanta may be perfectly appropriate, whereas on Wall Street, it might be too casual, and in Los Angeles, it might look like an anachronism. The only hard and fast rule is that seersucker is seasonal. No one should wear it in the middle of winter. Wear it after Memorial Day and before Labor Day, although those dates might vary depending on where you live - you might be inclined to wear it earlier or later in the year in a warm climate. I think seersucker probably would be fine for a non-black-tie prom in the South.

I like seersucker suits, but I don't like seersucker jackets. I don't know why. Somehow they seem extra frumpy and not pulled together. A seersucker suit can be part of an entire ensemble, with white bucks, a white or blue button-down shirt, a red tie, perhaps even a boater.

Codes + Conduct: Dress Code: Men: Seersucker Suits
Q What's the skinny on seersucker? My son wants to wear a seersucker suit to his prom, which is being held at the country club. We live in Savannah, GA. Would a seersucker suit be appropriate? It is not a black-tie prom.

A A lot of people like seersucker. It's a uniquely American fabric, very comfortable in the summer and looks great with white bucks and a bright tie. But it's less formal than a dark suit so people are sometimes confused about when and where to wear it. I think seersucker, like linen, is more appropriate for social events (cocktail parties, outdoor weddings and other celebrations, church) than business events, although you do see seersucker around some offices in the summer. It also depends where you live. A seersucker suit in downtown Atlanta may be perfectly appropriate, whereas on Wall Street, it might be too casual, and in Los Angeles, it might look like an anachronism. The only hard and fast rule is that seersucker is seasonal. No one should wear it in the middle of winter. Wear it after Memorial Day and before Labor Day, although those dates might vary depending on where you live - you might be inclined to wear it earlier or later in the year in a warm climate. I think seersucker probably would be fine for a non-black-tie prom in the South.

I like seersucker suits, but I don't like seersucker jackets. I don't know why. Somehow they seem extra frumpy and not pulled together. A seersucker suit can be part of an entire ensemble, with white bucks, a white or blue button-down shirt, a red tie, perhaps even a boater.

Codes + Conduct: Dress Code: Men: Semi-formal
Q Could you please define semi-formal for a dance in South Texas? Would this include starched jeans with ostrich boots, tie and jacket?

A I would not consider jeans, even starched jeans, appropriate for semi-formal. Since I have never been to South Texas, I do not know the dress code. However, I have been to semi-formal dinner dances in Houston where gentlemen don't wear jeans to semi-formal dances.

Codes + Conduct: Dress Code: Men: Semi-formal
Q Semi-formal dress men?

A Tie and jacket, good trousers (depending on the season: gray flannels, best khakis, linen), shoes and socks would be high enough to cover the bare leg when seated and perhaps held up with garters. The jacket could be a navy blue blazer, either double-breasted or not, but certainly not, say, seersucker. You would wear suspenders or a belt, but not both. You could add a handkerchief in the breast pocket, but not if you are wearing a boutonniere. The color of the shoes might depend upon the season. For instance, in summer bucks with white linen pants and a navy blue blazer are very handsome. In winter, black or dark brown shoes with gray flannels would be more appropriate. It goes without saying, that the belt would be the same color as the shoes. Whether to wear a bow tie or straight tie is often a matter of choice.

Codes + Conduct: Dress Code: Men: Single-Breasted Suits
Q On a single-breasted suit, should one of the buttons be unbuttoned?

A It might depend upon the single-breasted suit. The newer designer suits are especially designed so that the bottom button is left unbuttoned. In certain older traditional designs, only the middle button should be buttoned. In a lot of the designs today, you will find that you have to button the top two buttons.

Codes + Conduct: Dress Code: Men: Sixteen
Q What should a boy of 16 years of age wear inside a black coloured blazer? Also what should he wear bottom?

A At sixteen, he should be wearing a navy blue blazer. You don't want him looking like a thug. With a black jacket he'll look like a bus boy in a restaurant if he's wearing a white shirt and black trousers, so have him wear a black shirt, black tie and black trousers, with black shoes and socks. That way he'll look arty and not as though he works in a restaurant. Unless this is a uniform for him to wear at work in a restaurant.

Codes + Conduct: Dress Code: Men: Steak + Cigars
Q The event is a "Steak & Cigar" dinner night. What do you wear to something like this? It is held at a winery. I'm not sure if you need more information. I was thinking jeans and a short jacket? Please help or refer to correct place to go. Thank you!

A I don't know your gender but assume if it is steak and cigars, it is the "Boys Night Out." Jeans might be fine but gray flannels and cigars always pair well, as do corduroy pants. The jacket might be a sports jacket. Think Ralph Lauren and you will be fine.

Codes + Conduct: Dress Code: Men: Tee Shirts + Button Down Shirts
Q Tee shirts in or out with button-down shirts? Thanks!

A Please, never wear a T-shirt under a button-down shirt. It just looks proletarian.

Codes + Conduct: Dress Code: Men: Unbuttoned Last Button
Q Should a man keep the last button of his vest unbuttoned?

A Yes, for comfort of sitting down. When a man sits down, every stitch is doing double duty, therefore you want to relieve that stress on the last button, whether it is a suit jacket, blazer or vest, so that it doesn't eventually pop off.

Codes + Conduct: Dress Code: Men's "Cocktail Attire"
Q What is "cocktail attire" for men?

A It would depend upon the climate and your age. A business suit, or a blazer or sports jacket with gray flannels or good khaki pants would be appropriate. You would definitely wear a tie, shine your shoes, and arrive well-groomed. Your socks would need to be high enough so that hairy flesh is not seen should you sit down.

Codes + Conduct: Dress Code: Men's Wake + Funeral Attire
Q What is the appropriate men's clothing for a wake and funeral?

A A man would wear a dark suit with a white collared shirt and a tie of his choice. He would need a dark belt or suspenders, and perhaps cuff links; dark shoes and dark socks, but the socks should be long enough so that the flesh of his legs does not show when the man is seated. If the wake and funeral are in a rural area, the man might wear whatever he would wear if he was a guest at a church wedding. If the man is an usher and is given a carnation to wear on his lapel, he would remove the lapel pocket handkerchief.

Codes + Conduct: Dress Code: Military Ball
Q I'm going to an Army mess ball and I have been told to wear a cocktail dress...what sort of dress would be suitable?

A A cocktail dress is a slightly dressy short dress that falls just above or just above your knees. The "little black dress" is one of those wardrobe staples of most women today and is worn with white pearls and black strappy sandals. Depending upon your body type, the dress could be a short strapless dress with or without spaghetti straps, a wrap dress, or a sheath.

Codes + Conduct: Dress Code: Monograms
Q Are monograms tacky or acceptable? A co-worker wears collared button down shirts with his monogram on his shirt cuff. The shirt cuff is long enough so that his monogram shows with the movement of a hand.

A In general it is tacky to draw attention to one's rank and wealth, which is why most monograms on shirts appear over the left breast hidden by a blazer or jacket. Monogrammed shirts are not as bad as personalized license plates, which are a bit jokey. Even though monogrammed slippers are fine when worn at home because they are slightly jokey, you wouldn't wear them out socially. Equally, cocktail napkins, coasters, and hand towels are fine in your house and perhaps on the door of your car, but don't over do it.

Codes + Conduct: Dress Code: Newport Casual
Q I'm going to a rehearsal dinner in Newport, RI. The invitation says attire is Newport Casual. What would be appropriate to wear?

A In my opinion, "Newport Casual" would mean that the men would be wearing navy blue blazers, probably with brass buttons, but not necessarily because good horn buttons are just as good, if not better. With a blazer, this time of year a man would wear white or off-white, or even a cream or yellow, perhaps even colored pants, say a Nantucket red. A good pair of khaki pants or gray flannels would also be perfect. Of course, you would wear a tie, probably a regimental or nautical tie with a collared long sleeved shirt. Black or dark brown loafers and dark socks would be fine. If you are older, you might neatly fold a white handkerchief into your lapel pocket.

Codes + Conduct: Dress Code: Newport Casual
Q Hello Didi --

This evening I'm attending a social/business function at a beautiful home in Newport Beach, CA.

The attire is listed as Newport Casual.

What's this?

A The word casual is often included in dress codes for Sunday night because Sunday night functions are traditionally less formal and usually end earlier in the evening. Also, California is less formal than the East Coast. The "Newport Casual" dress code for a man would be dress (very good) khakis, white or colored pants with a light-weight jacket and very good loafers without socks. You can always take off your jacket, if your host isn't wearing one. Even though Sundays are more casual, it is best to dress up as opposed to dressing down, because being well-dressed shows respect for your host and hostess. If you're a woman, you could wear a pretty tunic or blouse with a great pair of pants or a skirt, or a sweet summer dress and beautiful summer shoes with a chic little clutch bag.

Codes + Conduct: Dress Code: Newport Sunday Afternoon Concert
Q I have been invited to Rhode Island to hear the Philadelphia Orchestra with family members who will accompany them, there will be a social affair for cocktails, etc., after at a private home belonging to friends that are hosting this event for charity. This is my first time at anything this formal and I want to wear the right clothes throughout the weekend but especially for the concert. What is proper? I am a very confident person with a lot of style and a nice wardrobe; however this is an event I am unsure of. It would make for an enjoyable day which will be a Sunday afternoon event.

A If you are a man, you would wear a summer suit or a navy blue blazer with either gray flannel (if you're older) or colored or cream colored pants (if you're slim and under seventy). A woman would wear a pretty summer dress with open-toed beautiful shoes. To be more specific, I would have to know your gender, build, age and coloring.

Codes + Conduct: Dress Code: No Socks
Q Is it a faux pas to NOT wear socks in a business casual environment which equals khaki's and button down shirts, no tie or jacket?

And to follow up, would one get away with wearing no socks with lace-up shoes versus slipons?
Would one not wear socks with only khaki or beige colors or ok also with darker color pants?

A My favorite dress codes is No Socks. It is not a faux pas, especially on a warm summer day or evening. If the dress code is either no tie or no jacket or no both, no socks are sexy.

I've never seen tied shoes without socks, one imagines it would get clammy, if not sticky inside the shoes. I wouldn't try it. For instance, I can't imagine wearing tennis shoes without socks. You need that buffer when your feet are laced up. Loafers, whether they're Gucci, Todd, or LL Bean, look great without socks, as do boat shoes and slip-ons. We see a lot of No Socks here in Newport from Mother's Day through Columbus Day.

No Socks are best with khakis, white pants, or any light colored trousers. Bare feet can only be in loafers or slip-ons. I don't like bare feet with dark pants, the exception of course would be jeans.

Codes + Conduct: Dress Code: Nude with White Blouse
Q When wearing a white blouse, what color bra is best to wear underneath?

A A flesh colored brassiere would look better under a white blouse because white would show through.

Codes + Conduct: Dress Code: Nylons with an Evening Dress
Q We are attending a black-tie ball this Saturday night in San Francisco. I have a long black satin gown with a small train. I have 2-3 inch black patent leather shoes with a hole in toe and strap around the back. I have always worn shoes with no nylons, but now I see that women are sometimes opting for with nylons. What's appropriate for this occasion??

A Nylons can dress up an outfit by their sheer texture and shine. If you can make your legs glow on your own, that's fine. The problem with nylons and having a hole in the toe of a strappy sandal is that you lose that flash of nail polish color unless those nylons are very sheer. Bright red toes are considered quite sexy. If sheer nylons don't have reinforced toes, meaning they are sheer across the toes, then a really bright color will shine through. So, it depends upon the dressiness and often quality of the nylons. For instance, Wolford and Donna Karan New York both make luxurious dressy evening pantyhose and stockings.

As I am not sure that when you say "nylons," you are referring to pantyhose or stockings, I would like to add that luxurious, sheer, shiny stockings worn with a black lacy garter are marvelously sexy, especially with a long black satin gown.

Codes + Conduct: Dress Code: Opening of Parliament
Q Do you wear a hat during a ceremonial opening of Parliament when the dress code mentions formal business attire?

A According to Debrett's "Etiquette and Modern Manners," guests invited to the State Opening of Parliament and to sit in the Royal Gallery should know that: "The invitation carries quite explicit instructions about dress, asking that women wear a day dress and a small hat (a large one could block someone else's view) and that men wear a morning suit, service dress or a lounge suit".

Codes + Conduct: Dress Code: Opera Coat
Q How are opera coats different from regular coats and am I restricted to wear them only to an opera? I just recently saw an opera coat in a magazine and I had never heard of such.

A Men and women wore opera coats as cover-ups in the days before opera houses and theaters had heat. Because the opera coat covered the woman's ball gown or the man's tuxedo, they were either full length or floor length and often were adorned with elegant or dramatic collars made of fur, velvet, or satin. Perhaps the outside of the cloak was elaborately brocade or embroidered or adorned with decorative fasteners. Opera coats can be long capes called cloaks, or have long sleeves and be slightly tailored with padded shoulders. Generally they were not as fitted as a coat because by the third act the heat from the other theater or opera-goers would have sufficiently warmed the air enough so that the opera coat could easily slide off the shoulders and be laid over the back of the chair at which time everyone could then see the colorful lining. Because one wouldn't' want to disrupt the other members of the audience, the opera cape was easy to dislodge from the shoulders and uncoil over the back of the seat, unlike a fitted coat that would be difficult to get out of while seated. No, you are not restricted to wear them only to an opera. Often women wear them over ball gowns or other evening attire. It is much easier to get in and out of a vehicle in an opera coat than when buttoned into a long fitted coat because movement is less restricted.

Codes + Conduct: Dress Code: Party Casual
Q Am invited to a birthday party dinner/dance in August in Louisiana. The attire specified on the invitation is "party casual". Are white trousers appropriate after 7 p.m. with a black print silk blouse or white shell with black and white silk jacket? White shoes and clutch, or rather black shoes and clutch?

A It would depend upon the trouser. Trousers sounds awfully masculine and perhaps too tailored. If the pants are made of a good quality fabric of either, say, silk or chiffon, then they sound dressy enough for "party casual," and would be appropriate for a seven o'clock dinner dance. Trousers, Capris, pedal pushers, and white jeans might be a bit too casual for a dinner dance. Once again, depending upon the style of the silk jacket, if it is too tailored or boxy looking, I would wear the black print silk blouse. If the silk jacket is actually more of a tunic, that would be fine. Since I'm not a big fan of white shoes, although they may be appropriate in the South, beautiful black pumps or elegant sandals with a clutch sound just fine. Alternatively, red always works well with white and black.

Codes + Conduct: Dress Code: Patent Leather
Q Is it appropriate to wear patent pumps to an evening wedding in N.J. In early Oct?

A Patent leather is a great luxury material. I love patent leather shoes and bags because they always look modern and dress up any outfit. It's also practical because any smudges come off easily without polish, as they have a natural shine. Patent leather is a great year-round fashion material for shoes and bags.

Codes + Conduct: Dress Code: Political Fundraiser: Couple
Q Good evening,
I am going to attend a Political Fundraising at the home of very wealthy people and their house is a huge country-style raising horse farm. The event will take place from 5:30 to 8:00 pm. The invitation starts with..."COME AND ENJOY COUNTRY HOSPITALITY..." Would you, please, suggest what my husband and I shall wear for the evening??? Thank you for your comments,
Marielos Good/11

A Men have it so easy. Have him wear a very good blazer or jacket, a collared white or striped shirt, with a linen-silk blend of trousers, and very good leather shoes.

For you, a short chic cocktail dress is all you need, with beautiful shoes and a small clutch bag. If your husband is a player in the event, he would obviously wear a tie.

Codes + Conduct: Dress Code: Political Fundraiser: Suburb: 7:00 PM
Q My wife and I are attending a political fundraiser at the home of a mover and shaker in an upscale (but not stuffy) NY suburb. The "Reception" is at 7:00pm. The invitation does not specify a dress code. What is the most suitable way to dress, or to find out the most suitable way to dress? (We are new to this circle of people.)

A Even though the mover and shaker is not stuffy, you would still wear a jacket and tie out of respect.

The reason there isn't a dress code stated on the invitation is because it is assumed that guests know what to wear and what not to wear. In other words, you wouldn't wear jeans, shorts, a tee-shirt, flip-fops, or sandals. You would wear dress khaki pants or grey flannels with a blazer and tie. Alternatively, a business suit would be fine.

The most suitable attire for you and your wife is to dress as though you were going to an upscale restaurant; you want to look dignified enough so that you are not snubbed by the headwaiter. Since you are new to this circle of people, dressing in a dignified manner will give a good first impression.

Codes + Conduct: Dress Code: Private Hunting Club: Fundraiser
Q Dear Didi,

I am the chairman of a charitable organization and will be hosting a fundraiser in May at a private hunting/social club. I would like attendees to dress nicely but want to allow nice denim, as it is more fitting with this particular event (we also host a more formal event at a country club later in the year). On the invitation, how can I best portray this description of desired attire? I do not want people arriving in torn jeans and ratty polo shirts. Thank you in advance for your assistance.

A Most private clubs have a dress code that needs to be adhered to, so you would follow that dress code out of respect for the club. Many clubs require a tie and jacket after six o'clock, for instance. As you know, clubs have rules that are usually written into the by-laws, or there are signs: No Jeans, No Children in the Bar Area, Shirts and Shoes Required in the Snack Bar, etc. Before you decide on a dress code, you need to check with the club secretary or manager for a dress code to put on your invitation, as you might well need their approval.

In the meantime, you can be thinking about the list below. The word "casual," as in "casual Fridays" in the work place, has come to mean "no ties" and "no suits," but it doesn't mean no jackets. I'm assuming that as this is a private club, jackets are required in the evening and that sport jackets and blazers are the standard. It is widely accepted that"casual Fridays" also means no torn jeans, cargo pants, tee-shirts, flip-flops, or bare midriffs. Depending upon the venue of your fundraiser and the time of day, perhaps you can determine from this list which dress code suits the occasion and time best, or better yet, make up your own. Since I don't know if your fundraiser is a shoot followed by breakfast or lunch, a cocktail party, or clambake, this is a rather general list based on the concept of "casual":

Cocktail Casual
Country Club Casual
Business Casual
Cocktail Attire
Smart Casual
Snappy Casual
Dressy Casual
Sport Jackets
Club Casual

You are welcome to get back to me with more information and we can work with other ideas. Personally, I'm leaning toward the dress code "Sport Jackets," because one wouldn't wear torn jeans and a ratty polo shirt with a sport jacket or blazer, and most clubs require jackets for parties, unless it is themed costume party.

Codes + Conduct: Dress Code: Prom: Choosing Dress + Jewelry
Q I don't know what to wear for prom in my school. I have two short gown: the first one is cappuccino color and the second is violet. I'm confused besides I don't know what type of jewelry to wear.

A You must be pleased to have so many choices. Making good choices is a trait that will serve you well after the prom and for the rest of your life. Ask your best friend because she is the person who will know the style of your friends and be able to tell you which dress is more flattering. Personally, I think cappuccino sounds a bit wintery, a last year color. Violet, on the other hand, is fresh, sweet and youthful. As for jewelry, less is more. My daughters always tell me to put on all the jewelry I want to wear, then look in the mirror and take off at least one piece.

Codes + Conduct: Dress Code: Removing Coat Labels
Q Do you take labels off men's outerwear, like winter coats? They may say what it is made of or who made the coat?

Thanks, Vickie Nicholson

A Labels used to be taken off of men's outerwear, but nowadays it seems best to keep at least one of the lining labels in tact for easier identification. There are camel hair coats and there are camel hair coats, they can all look the same at first glance. Having one familiar label can be helpful when exiting, say, a cocktail party or restaurant.

In the past, when labels were taken off the man's top coat, a monogram would have been embroidered on the lining for purposes of identification.

Codes + Conduct: Dress Code: Seersucker Jacket with T-Shirt
Q Is it OK to wear a nice white tee shirt with a seersucker jacket?

A It would depend upon the occasion. Going out to lunch, yes, go ahead and wear a T-shirt with your seersucker jacket. Going to a wedding, no. There are those who would never wear a seersucker jacket without matching seersucker pants; no doubt they would only wear a collared, button-down shirt under their seersucker jacket.

Codes + Conduct: Dress Code: Seersucker Suit
Q Can you wear a knit golf shirt with a blue and white seer- sucker suit or do you have to wear a button-down collar shirt?

A Neither. Wear a non-button-down white collared, long-sleeved shirt after six o'clock. Before six, a shirt with a button-down collar shirt would be fine.

Codes + Conduct: Dress Code: Semi-Casual Attire
Q Is "semi-casual attire" a good way to suggest the attire for an afternoon garden party to celebrate an engagement? Thanks!

A "Semi-casual Attire" for an engagement garden party means that you want the women to wear nice slacks with a sweater or a skirt with a shirt, but not a dress, and that you want the guys to wear khakis and a buttondown shirt but they need not wear a jacket. However, you don't want anyone to wear jeans.

Codes + Conduct: Dress Code: Semi-formal
Q What should I wear to an evening semi-formal?

A If you are a man, you might wear a dark suit, dark shoes and socks. If you are a women, depending upon your age and build, you might wear a short strapless dress in a dressy fabric. Alternatively, you might wear a flirty three-quarter length dress with high strappy heels. If you are a woman of a certain age and build, you might wear a dinner suit with dressy buttons. No matter what the dress, you would tote a pretty evening bag and coordinating shoes.

Codes + Conduct: Dress Code: Semi-formal Attire
Q I have been invited to a semi-formal 50th birthday celebration for a dear friend at a 5 star hotel. What exactly is considered "semi-formal" for both men and women?

A "Semi-formal" means that the man does not have to wear a tuxedo and the women does not have to wear a ball gown. You would wear whatever you wear to a dinner dance or charity dinner or wedding. The men would wear a dark suit. The women might wear a dinner dress with a matching jacket, a dinner suit, or very dressy slacks and a stunning top, or a cocktail dress. The quality of the fabric and the decorations on the garment would make the outfit semi-formal as opposed to informal. The women would carry evening bags and wear appropriate jewelry.

Codes + Conduct: Dress Code: Semi-Formal: Florida
Q My husband and I are invited to a semi-formal event in Florida the end of October. He'll be wearing dress pants, shirt, tie and jacket (as most men there will). I'm planning to wear a long gown (shiny, low cut) with black heels and clutch. Do I need to wear pantyhose? (I'm about a size 3 and 39 years old). I'd really like your opinion and any others tips.

A You said that this is "a semi-formal event," which means that you do not need to--nor should you--wear a long shiny gown. In my opinion, you would wear a short, flirty, silk chiffon cocktail dress. The black heels and clutch sound fine, but since you are slim and still young, you might want to wear something more stylish than a shiny gown.

Since I don't know the particulars of the event, because the invitation did not state "Black Tie," then you don't have to wear a long gown. You can wear a dress that falls just above your knees that is fun to dance in.

Other tips would be one piece of good jewelry, perhaps earrings or a cocktail ring. It doesn't have to be real, but it should be well-made. Think of it more as a conversation piece: "Where did you get those great earrings?" Or, "I love your cocktail ring!"

As to the pantyhose: If your legs are well-groomed, then you shouldn't have to wear pantyhose.

Codes + Conduct: Dress Code: Sequin Dress: Shoes and Jewelry
Q I just bought this braze sequin dress with sheer black long sleeves by Vera Wang, what color shoes and what type of jewelry should I wear with this??

A With a gold and black dress wear black shoes. Gold dangling earrings would be good. The necklace would depend upon the neckline. Gold with gold, silver with silver. Otherwise it looks too busy.

We like hearing from you.

Didi Lorillard

Codes + Conduct: Dress Code: Sleeveless Dresses at Formal Dinner
Q Is it okay to wear a sleeveless dress to a formal dinner during the winter?

A Strapless formal dresses are all the rage this winter so you will be in good company. As for the sleeveless dress, as long as it is in a luxury fabric and doesn't look like a day dress, go ahead and wear it. If you feel self-conscious about your upper arms, wear a dressy jacket or an evening shawl.

Codes + Conduct: Dress Code: Smart Casual
Q What does the term smart casual mean?

A "Smart Casual" would mean that you would dress as though you were smart enough to know what to wear to a casual party. You would be well-groomed. If you were a man, your shoes would be shined and you might wear a blazer and khakis but not necessarily a tie and gray flannels. A woman would not wear a dinner suit, but she might wear a flirty dress. Think Ralph Lauren.

Codes + Conduct: Dress Code: Smart Casual
Q Can you give me the definition of smart casual dress as well as other styles of dress?

A There must be several hundred dress codes in play at this period in time. If you could give me more information about the date, time, location, and nature of your event, I will be better able to give you a couple of suggestions for listing a dress code that is "Smart Casual."

For ideas as to how to define a dress code, you are welcome to browse the archives on my Web site
Using key words such as Dress Code, Dress Codes, and more specifically "Wedding: Dress Code: Guest," you will find that there is a dress code to fit various and sundry kinds of events.

In order to give you a precise dress code for your function, I will need to know more about the occasion. In my opinion, knowing nothing of the event, I would say that "Smart Casual" means that men are required to wear jackets, but ties are not a requirement.

Codes + Conduct: Dress Code: Sock Etiquette: Men
Q Dear Didi,
What color socks do I wear with khakis, grey flannels, and a dark blue business suit? Then, what color shoes and belt should I wear? I'm in business school and interviewing for jobs, so I want to get it right. G.D., Boston

A Dear G.D.,
When you wear light brown trousers, such as khakis or tan twills, that go with a blazer or sports jacket, your socks should be tan, brown, or navy blue and the shoes and belt, brown.

When in doubt, socks should match either the color of the shoe or trouser. Never wear tan socks with black shoes. The belt should match the shoes, but a dark brown belt can be worn with black or brown shoes because nobody notices the difference.

With grey flannel trousers, worn either as the trousers of a grey suit or with a blazer or sports jacket, the color sock would depend upon the shoes: you probably don't have grey socks; not many men do. With a grey suit you can wear black shoes, black socks and belt; with grey flannels and a sports jacket or blazer, navy blue socks with dark brown shoes and belt. With a navy blue business suit, you would wear black shoes, socks and belt, or navy blue socks. Not to complicate matters, but navy blue socks are always a standard alternative to tan, brown and grey.

Nevertheless, a black suit requires black belt, shoes and socks. Also, remember the height of the sock should cover the calf so that when crossing your legs, hairy bare flesh is not in evidence. ~Didi

Codes + Conduct: Dress Code: Strappy Sandals In April
Q Can I wear a strappy/open-toe high heels at the end of April? Or Can they only be worn in the summer?

A It depends where you are and how cold it is. In the North it can still be chilly in April. Look at it this way. If it is cold enough to have to wear legwear with your strappy open toe heels, then wait until the weather is milder.

Codes + Conduct: Dress Code: Summer Northeast Luncheon: Summer
Q When traveling to a different part of the country, how do you know what is appropriate to wear when? Obviously, there are some "basics" which everyone follows, but (for instance) how does one know if a Lilly Pulitzer dress (which one starts wearing in the South in April or May) is appropriate for a Sunday lunch in New York or the Hamptons or Maine in June?

A Dress codes are tricky. As you know, they largely depend upon the location, occasion and climate. For instance, the dress code at a beach club in Newport, which is located between the Hamptons and Maine, is stylish, but jeans would not be permitted and bare midriffs are not seen. The best thing to do is to text, email, or call a friend who summers, say, in New York, the Hamptons, or Maine and ask for advice. You can start by telling her what you would like to wear and then ask her what she thinks. When I am unsure, I ask the hostess what she is planning on wearing; a good hostess always generously shares the details of her outfit because she sets the dress code when she chooses the occasion and the location. Depending upon your age, in my opinion, you would not wear a Lilly Pulitzer dress in New York City or the Hamptons, if you are over the age of eighteen; in Newport and Maine, I would say twenty-one, unless it is vintage Lilly. If you are twenty-one or older and are comfortable with your body, you might wear, say, a Diane von Furstenberg-style print dress to a luncheon in New York City or the Hamptons. In Maine, you would fit the dress code by wearing a linen sheath or a skirt or slacks and top of good quality cotton or linen. An older women, say, over the age of 50, would fit into the dress code by wearing a tunic with slacks or a dress with short sleeves in either fine linen, cotton, or silk. A white summer suit is always chic at a summer luncheon. As I said, it would depend largely on the occasion. For instance, to a bridal luncheon at a private club or house, when choosing your outfit you would focus on the quality of the fabric and design.

Here is a list of youthful designers, who in my opinion, are worth taking a look at online to get a sense of the style and quality of design, that I think you are looking for either through the individual designer major stores, such as Neiman Marcus, Saks, Bloomingdale's, Bergdorf Goodman, Lord & Taylor, Garnet Hill, Banana Republic, Ann Taylor, etc.:

Nanette Lepore
Rebecca Taylor
Elie Tahari
Marc Jacobs

Codes + Conduct: Dress Code: Sunday Chic
Q Dear Didi,

I was really intrigued by your letter in Town & Country listing all the invitation dress codes you have encountered through your wonderful etiquette website. I was fascinated that there could be such an amazing variety and I need your excellent advice regarding an invitation I received recently. What is "Sunday chic"? The invitation is for cocktails and buffet. Thank you for your help.

Perplexed in New York

A Sunday chic usually means nice slacks or skirts and top for the ladies and jackets but no ties for the men. It is more casual than cocktail attire, therefore, you wouldn't wear a little black dress or a dinner suit and not too much jewelry. No gold stiletto Manolos or emerald necklace. Traditionally, Sunday night is always more casual.

Codes + Conduct: Dress Code: Symphony
Q I am going to an afternoon symphony concert. I am not really sure what the proper attire will be like...please help!

A To an afternoon symphony concert, you would wear business attire or business casual, which is the middle attire between formal business wear and street wear. That means that you wouldn't wear jeans, workout clothing, sweat suits, micro-miniskirts, gym socks with leather shoes, underwear as outerwear, any revealing attire such as bare midriffs or wife-beater undershirts, and no flip-flops. Be well-groomed, which means shave and shine your shoes.

Codes + Conduct: Dress Code: Symphony Attire
Q What is appropriate to wear to the symphony - both male & female?

A It might depend if the concert is a black tie benefit, or not. If it is not an opening night or benefit, then both the man and woman would wear what they might wear to a traditional, first class restaurant. Depending on the weather and climate, a man might wear a dark suit, or gray flannels or dress khakis, with a jacket; a collared shirt, a tie, dark shoes and socks. A woman might wear a well-cut skirt suit or a dress with a jacket, in case the hall is air-conditioned. In general, symphony goers tend to get more dressed up in cities such as Washington, D.C., and New York City, than in Boston, Providence, Seattle, and San Francisco.

Codes + Conduct: Dress Code: Synagogue Teenager Attire
Q What is the most casual acceptable attire for Saturday morning synagogue for a teenaged girl?

A The teenage girl would wear either a dress with a coat, a suit, a skirt, blouse, and sweater, or well-cut slacks with a blouse and sweater or jacket. Her arms would be covered, she would not show any bare skin on her chest or legs. Also, she would wear polished, comfortable shoes.

Codes + Conduct: Dress Code: Tastefully Casual
Q How does one define "tastefully casual"? The event is dinner, after six. Elegant hotel dining room.

A What your host is trying to get across with his "tastefully casual" dress code" is that he doesn't want guests wearing flip-flops, collarless shirts, cargo pants, shorts, bare midriffs, sneakers, baseball caps, men's sandals, tattered blue jeans or denim. It means he wants you to wear your best casual clothing, what you would wear to a cocktail party or up-scale restaurant. Your host is probably following the dress code of the restaurant where you'll probably find men in jackets without ties and possibly wearing Gucci-style loafers without socks.

Codes + Conduct: Dress Code: Teen Pageant: Teen Pageant

A How about ankle-length skinny pants in a vibrant print. J.Crew has a skinny pant with a panoramic print that stretches across both legs.

The safest prints have the tiniest patterns in tight formation. Try to find pants without pleats and with a real waistband. She'll get a sleeker, more precise fit that way. Otherwise a chic printed skirt or dress (but without patch pockets) and she can carry a small clutch bag.

Alternatively, a black pencil or A-line skirt or narrow black or khaki pants. Nothing in wide horizontal stripes or any printed dress or shirt with long sleeves. Sleeveless is better because there is less fabric to look at. For jewelry, just one bold resin bracelet would be snappy casual.

Codes + Conduct: Dress Code: Teenage Girls + Church
Q What should teenage girls wear to church on Sunday mornings?

A Traditionally, a teenage girl might wear a skirt and sweater, tights and shoes or boots, depending upon the weather and season. Nowadays, they tend to wear nice pants, but not jeans. Churches in rural areas are a lot more casual about standards of dress than big city churches, so once again it would depend upon where the teenager lives.

Codes + Conduct: Dress Code: Turtlenecks
Q Are turtlenecks in style?

A It depends on the location and occasion. If you're going skiing or skating then of course, because they keep the neck warm. Mostly they look uptight. Or as though you're trying to cover up your neck for one reason or another. Often in lieu of wearing a tie in winter, a turtleneck works with a sports jacket.

Codes + Conduct: Dress Code: Undershirts: Attractive or Not
Q Hi Didi,

I saw on some of the answers you had that men are not supposed to wear a white undershirt underneath their dress shirts and I was totally shocked at that! I thought it was proper to wear an undershirt under a dress shirt. Who wants to see a man's nipples showing through his white dress shirt or a thick pelt of fur? Can you confirm?



A I am not a huge fan of seeing the the white undershirt showing at the neckline when the man isn't wearing a tie and his first one or two buttons are unbuttoned. I also don't like seeing the image of the short sleeves of the undershirt silhouetting through the dress shirt when the man takes off his jacket! When the quality of the shirt is good, you don't see the chest hair or nipples. Plus, with a dress shirt he should have on his jacket! Think about the texture of, say, an oxford shirt for work. Oxford is thick enough so you can't see anything underneath the dress shirt. Well, there are other shirt weights of that quality and better where you wouldn't see chest hair or nipples.

Personally, I would rather see a hint of manly chest hair and/or the slight darting of nipples than a white undershirt through a dress shirt. There's something about the schoolboy-look of an undershirt that I don't find appealing on a grown man. By the way, my husband has masses of body hair and I never see it through his shirts. It is my understanding that men wear the short-sleeved undershirts under dress shirts to try to get two days of wear out of the shirt with the theory that they only have to change into a fresh undershirt on the second day. The practice of wearing an undershirt was prevalent over fifty years ago before men starting wearing deodorant.

Still to this day, it is required in the military that an undershirt has to be worn underneath an outer shirt. However, a gentleman in business wouldn't wear an undershirt. My wonderful son-in-law, who is a great business man, wears undershirts because he perspires a lot, but it's not attractive.

Codes + Conduct: Dress Code: University Music Recital
Q How do I dress for a university music recital? I am female.

A It would depend upon your age. If you are affiliated with the university or are a guest of one of the musicians, then you would wear business attire or what you would wear to church or place of worship. If you are a student, anything goes. Unless the invitation states "Black Tie," you would assume the event is informal.

Codes + Conduct: Dress Code: Velvet In March
Q Can you wear velveteen to an affair that is semi-formal to formal in Houston, Texas in March? The outfit has a velveteen top and bottom.

A I apologize for not getting back to you sooner as I have been in Naples, Fl., at a wedding and just this minute returned to monitoring

Yes, in March you can wear any thickness of velvet in Texas or most elsewhere. Because every event space is air-conditioned, there is more leeway when it comes to the use of luxury fabrics. Velvet is a luxury fabric, soft to the touch and most appropriate for a semi-formal to formal dance in Houston.

Codes + Conduct: Dress Code: Velvet: Wearing Before October

A It would depend upon the quality of the velvet. Luxury fabrics are always presentable; however, fur and velvet, as well as heavy brocades, are often worn in cooler weather. However, if the velvet is of supreme good quality equal to a suede, you are absolutely fine wearing velvet pants.

Codes + Conduct: Dress Code: Wearing or Dropping White: Timing
Q Is there a first day of the season to wear white clothing and is there a last day?

A Except if you are dressing for tennis or croquet, you would drop the "bright white look" from your fall wardrobe after Labor Day and wouldn't pick it up again until Memorial Day Weekend. The huge exception would be if you lived in a tropical climate year-round. Nevertheless, they say that "winter white," which is not a bright white, is especially flattering for older skin. There are no precise dates the way we have December 25th for Christmas because the weekends fall on different dates depending upon the year. Memorial Day Weekend, the last weekend in May, marks the start of the summer season and Labor Day Weekend, the first weekend in September, is considered the last summer weekend.

Codes + Conduct: Dress Code: Wearing Pearls
Q Are there any rules as to the wearing of pearls? I will be attending an afternoon wedding with an informal reception directly after. I will be wearing a just below the knee, crisp, classic cut, cotton floral dress in a sage green. Will pearls be appropriate?

A Pearls are appropriate with practically any dress. The dressier the dress, the longer the pearls and the more stands worn. For an informal afternoon wedding, one strand of pearls, either graduated or not, might fall as much as six inches from the neck. You might not want to wear pearls as a collar, because that is a tailored look. Since I don't know the decolletage of the dress, it is difficult to say what length.

Codes + Conduct: Dress Code: Wearing White After Labor Day
Q In the southern states it has always been a rule NOT to wear white after September. In the newest fashion magazines they're showing WHITE WHITE WHITE for winter. White bags, white pants, white pea coats... you name it. It isn't seemingly "winter white" either. Just regular old crisp white. Is it possible that this old-fashioned Southern tradition has died out and that white jeans can be worn?

A They used to call it "winter white," but as you say, they're showing white-white. I'm not a big fan of wearing white year round because white garments are difficult to clean and look old before their time, but that's what the garment industry wants. They want you to buy white that is hard to keep clean, so that you'll have to buy more outfits. The garment industry hates dark colors such as black because they don't show the stains as easily and it's easier to clean, therefore we can wear black clothing for years. If people don't wear so much white year round, then the garment industry won't force white on us year round. Don't get me wrong, I love a crisp white shirt, but my white shirts, skirts and pants begin to look gray or yellowish by October.

Codes + Conduct: Dress Code: Wearing White After Labor Day
Q Dear Didi,
Is it still taboo to wear white after Labor Day?
K.Z., Providence

A Dear K.Z.,
In the dark cult classic 'Serial Mom,' Beverly Sutphi (Kathleen Turner), thought wearing white after Labor Day was a faux pas and after telling her lawyer why one of the jurors (played by Patty Hearst) who judged her shouldn't be wearing white shoes, he advised Beverly to plead not guilty by reason of insanity.

The no-white rule after Labor Day originates from Victorian times when wearing white was as much a status symbol for the middle and upper classes during the summer as not wearing white was the status nuance after Labor Day. The fashion nuance was that if you didn't know the rule, you weren't fashionable. Coco Chanel wore white year round and today best-dressed list stars such as Mary J. Blige, Michelle Obama, and Gwyneth Paltrow are known for often wearing shades of white, from bright white to winter white, that include the white tones ash, eggshell, cream, pearl, bone, ivory and ecru. White is like black. You can wear it year round. White looks good on all skin tones and when freshly cleaned, looks pure and timeless. ~Didi

Codes + Conduct: Dress Code: Wearing White Before Memorial Day
Q Dear Didi,
What's the skinny on wearing white jeans before Memorial Day? Can we or can't we? We were taught not to wear white shoes or clothing before the last weekend in May or after the first weekend in September. As we experience warmer weather earlier and earlier, and into the Fall, is that no longer a dress code rule? Aggie G., Narragansett

A Dear Aggie,
Lately Katie Holmes and the editor-in-chief of Vogue Paris Emmanuelle Alt have been seen taking the plunge in virginal white jeans. Katie wore her skinnies with nude colored suede boots tucked into her white jeans, Emmanuelle has been seen wearing her white skinnies cropped with both pointy black pumps and ruched black boots. The media dictates fashion. W e have only to look back at how it made 'winter whites' all the rage to see the shifting etiquette. If you have the figure, go for it. The vogue in dress codes shifts with the dictates of the media and perhaps even with the weather. Who says we don't have Global Warming! We're a planet on steroids!

Codes + Conduct: Dress Code: Wearing White In March
Q I will be in Palm Springs the end Of Feb. and the beginning of March. Can I wear white pants and or white shoes? We are staying at a very nice golf resort.

A In California the bottom line is that dress codes are rather casual - even at a very nice golf resort. I'm assuming you are a man asking about white pants and white bucks? Women always look good in white pants, but I'm not sure about the white shoes. Not to worry about the not wearing white before Labor Day rule north of the Mason Dixon Line.

Codes + Conduct: Dress Code: Wearing White Shoes After Labor Day
Q I am going to San Francisco mid-September. Would it be appropriate to wear off-white shoes?

A Do you mean white bucks, that aren't bright white? Yes, white bucks would be fine. In general, I'm not a big fan of wearing off-white shoes after Labor Day, but that's a personal decision -- a matter of taste.

Codes + Conduct: Dress Code: Western Chic
Q We are invited to an anniversary party beginning at 5:00 p.m., Dinner and Dancing, Attire: Western Chic. What is Western Chic?

A Western Chic always means cowboy boots. Whatever else you wear would reflect your station in life. With jeans and a cowboy hat, you would pass as a cowhand. A jacket and sweller hat, would make you an oilman. A woman could definitely wear a cowgirl hat and cowgirl boots, with whatever else she would wear to an informal party.

Codes + Conduct: Dress Code: Western Hats
Q When should one remove a western-style hat(cowboy hat)?

A A real cowboy rarely takes off his cowboy hat because it is part of his uniform, much as a turban is part of the uniform of men from the Middle East. A man in a sports jacket or suit who wears a western-style hat takes it off when he enters a private house, restaurant, office, etc.

Codes + Conduct: Dress Code: When to Stop Wearing Velvet
Q What time of year do you stop wearing velvet?

A It would depend upon where you live, how cold it is, and what article of clothing. For instance, velvet evening shoes are comfy for dancing year round. Velvet pants, jackets and skirts can be worn until it is too warm to wear them. People wear cashmere in summer and velvet is considered a luxury fabric, too.

Codes + Conduct: Dress Code: Which Wrist for Watch
Q Should a woman wear her watch on the left or right wrist?

A It depends if you are left or right handed, because you would wear it on the opposite wrist.

Codes + Conduct: Dress Code: White Bucks
Q Can men wear white bucks all year or only during the summer?

A South of the Mason-Dixon Line you can get away with wearing white bucks year round. I should say: white bucks are best in the summer and fall, but if the bucks are off-white, you can get away with wearing them during the rest of the year, especially if you are a college student.

Codes + Conduct: Dress Code: White Dinner Jacket Season
Q What time of the year is it appropriate to wear a white dinner jacket?

A It depends upon the climate where you live. For instance in the South, white dinner jackets are worn year-round. In the North, they are generally worn between Memorial Day and Labor Day because they are lighter in weight.

Codes + Conduct: Dress Code: White in Florida in Winter?
Q May I wear white pants in Florida during the winter months? Thank you.

A Yes, wearing white in Florida anytime of year is appropriate.

Codes + Conduct: Dress Code: White in Winter
Q I live in Florida and was wondering if a white denim jacket is a real break of etiquette in February under the rules of no white unless after Memorial Day and before Labor Day.

A Winter White is very fashionable. The old rule about no white after Labor Day until Memorial Day is a real northern notion. Wearing white depends upon the climate. If I lived in Florida, I would wear white whenever I liked, although maybe not white shoes and bag.

Codes + Conduct: Dress Code: White in Winter
Q Is it OK to wear shoes that are darker than your pants or skirt? For instance, today I'm wearing a pair of winter white corduroys with a white-trimmed brown collared shirt. May I wear brown shoes to match the top? Or should I stick to winter white shoes to match the pants? Thanks.

A Go with the light brown shoes.

Codes + Conduct: Dress Code: White Is the New Black
Q When is it appropriate to wear white in Michigan?

A "Winter White" was a big color this past winter everywhere and many feel that white is the new black. Traditionally, if the weather is warm enough not to wear socks, it is warm enough to wear white.

Codes + Conduct: Dress Code: White Long-Sleeve Shirts
Q What should men wear under a white long-sleeve shirt?

A Please, don't wear a white tee-shirt or tank top, commonly called "wife beater," because white shows very white through white. It is best not to wear anything underneath a white long-sleeve shirt.

Codes + Conduct: Dress Code: White Pants + Crop Pants
Q What is the etiquette season in California for white pants or crop pants?

A In southern California the season doesn't really change, as opposed to northern California, which gets cooler going into the fall months. Traditionally, in the northern half of the country you wouldn't wear white pants or trousers after Labor Day or at the very latest, the last day of fall. Fall began this year on September 22nd. The no white after Labor Day or before Memorial Day originally applied to white dresses and white shoes. Although people still wore winter-white and other off-whites as they do today. The rules are some what relaxed, but the farther south and the hotter it is, the more acceptable it is to wear white pants.

White is warn in warmer weather because the color white reflects light, the color black absorbs light.

As I'm not a fan of crop pants, I don't push them because I think they make a woman look shorter than she actually is. They say crop pants have three seasons, spring, summer, fall. Obviously, if it is cold enough to wear socks, you wouldn't wear crop pants. Generally, crop pants seem less flattering on most older woman.

Codes + Conduct: Dress Code: Widows
Q Is it proper for a newly widowed wife to wear black for a certain period of time?

A In my opinion, widows are no longer expected to wear black.

Codes + Conduct: Dress Code: Woman: Boot Lengths
Q Wearing jeans and boots - what to wear w/short boots? and what to wear w/high boots?

A High boots are always fabulous. Over the knees are sketchy. Short boots are best with slacks.

Codes + Conduct: Dress Code: Woman's Divorce Hearing
Q How would a woman dress for a divorce hearing in order to project an image of professionalism and business?

A To attend a divorce hearing, a woman might wear a well-cut black or gray suit or a gray or navy blue coat dress. The length of either would be an inch to an inch and a half below her knees, the taller the woman the longer the length. She would wear flesh-tone pantyhose and a white blouse. No jewelry or hair ornaments; however, if her hair is long, she might wear it up in a French twist. Her shoes would be black with low heels, perfectly simple with a slightly rounded toe and a simple black bag with no adornments of charms or chains. Think Grace Kelly dressed by Talbots.

Codes + Conduct: Dress Code: Women + Black Tie
Q What is the best way to ascertain how women should dress for a black-tie event, since black tie can mean anything these days, from a cocktail dress to a dinner suit to a ball gown?

A Talk to your host or a close friend of the host to find out what other women are wearing and you will get a feel for the dress code. If your host has requested the men to wear tuxedos, then women guests are expected to dress up. When in doubt overdress for special events in respect for your host. If you have great legs, show them off with a fancy short dress. If you are overweight, a dressy jacket and slacks are fine. However, a long elegant strapless dress always makes a woman feel special.

Codes + Conduct: Dress Code: Women + Black Tie
Q When the invitation says Black Tie, does a woman have to wear a long dress or can she wear a short one?

A If the invitation is for a ball, your dress must be long. It does not have to be a ball gown but it should fall well below the knees. I usually find out what the hostess is wearing and dress accordingly. One hostess I know loves to wear a ball gown and diamond necklace to greet guests at the front door of her beautiful mansion, and I know that she wants me to dress up, too, so I do. Otherwise, if you have good legs, show them off. Short dresses can be just as dressy. However, if it is a six o'clock wedding and the bride is wearing a long dress, she probably wants you to wear one, too. Ask her, or someone close to her, what to wear. Even very dressy pants are acceptable at many Black Tie events.

Codes + Conduct: Dress Code: Women: Kilt Attire
Q Is it considered proper for a woman to dress in a kilt, complete with belt and sporran, knee socks and flashes?

A Yes, it is proper; however, it might depend upon the occasion.

Codes + Conduct: Dress Code: Women: Legwear
Q Can a fifty-nine-year-old in good shape wear a shift dress 1 1/2 inches to 2 inches above the knee bare-legged or with leggings? This is to a bridal shower and a church confirmation.

A If she has great legs, then she can certainly wear her dresses above her knees. It is getting a bit warm for leggings. Why not wear legwear that is sheer with a slight shimmer? These days there are pantyhose that are not your mother's pantyhose, they are sheer and shimmery and will give your legs a slight glow tone. Unless your legs are well-groomed, buffed and shiny, stick to good quality legwear.

Codes + Conduct: Dress Code: Women: Panty Lines
Q Didi,
I am attending a gala ball and I am wearing an olive green fitted silk long gown. What can I wear underneath that will not show any panty lines? I know thongs but this dress is very form fitting. Not tight just clingy. Please help me.
thanks so much

A Go to the website and you'll see the new line of "Skinny Britches."

Otherwise, if you don't like wearing a thong, you might have to go commando (without anything). A lot of women do. Nobody has to know that you're bare underneath--unless you tell them.

Another good brand, which I love, is Wolford at Look under "legware."

Alternatively, contact the store where you purchased your evening dress and ask for advice. Since I don't know the style of the dress, I don't know if a long satin slip would work, but it might be an option.

Codes + Conduct: Dress Code: Women: Smart, Dressy + Petite
Q I am short. What type of clothes will suit me which will look smart and dressy?


A A lot would depend upon your build, age, and the event you are attending. For instance, if you have good legs, you would flaunt them. You would stay away from long dresses because they have a tendency to make most women look dowdy. If you have a good figure, you would accentuate the positive. A dressy well-tailored pantsuit on a woman with a good figure will make her look taller. On the other hand, a short, flirty, pale, chiffon cocktail dress with flowers or a wrap dress with a symmetrical print would look great, if you have a good figure. For women over the age of fifty, I am a big fan of the well-tailored dressy dinner suit that falls just below the knees. If you can wear high heels, then go for them. It is not so much about what you wear as how well you wear it and that depends upon the fit. If you are short, then find a well-made outfit of high quality fabric and design and have it fitted to your build. If you cannot find a good tailor, then shop in the petite departments where you will find the clothing of designers who specialize in petite styles, because those designers know that you want to look taller.

Codes + Conduct: Dress Code: Women: White Shirts
Q My 12-year-old daughter wore a white tee shirt and a white bra under it. Someone said that she might as well be a slut! Is it inappropriate for her to wear a white bra? I always thought that you were to wear the same color as your shirt. In no way was her shirt tight or improper. I don't understand.

A It make senses that a girl would wear a white bra under a white shirt, but in fact, a nude colored bra is more apt not to show under a white shirt. Please, don't allow anyone to call your daughter a slut. She did what she thought made sense. A slut would have worn a black bra under a white shirt. Women who play tennis wear a white sports bra under a white shirt all the time because many tennis courts require all white attire. Don't let other people rule your world. Suggest to your daughter that she wear a flesh-colored bra under her white shirts from now on. Interestingly enough, sports companies don't make flesh-colored sports bras, so that "someone" is essentially saying that anyone who wears a white sports bra under a white tennis shirt is a slut. That's ridiculous. Encourage and support your daughter in respecting her decisions and herself.

Codes + Conduct: Dress Code: Womens' Proper Funeral Attire
Q What is the proper woman's attire for a church funeral starting a 5:00 pm?

A A well cut dark skirt suit is appropriate, as is a coat dress, or any day dress with sleeves. A young woman might where a cashmere sweater set with a skirt and pearls. It is best not to wear anything irksome that might seem disrespectful or which might bring attention to yourself, for instance jingly charm bracelets, low riding pants, or loud colors. Do wear short leather gloves, a hat or scarf, but not all three.