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Thread: Hopsack for formal events?

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  1. #13
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    Cocktail attire is what you wear to an after-work function straight from the office, as defined at a time when wearing anything but a sober suit and tie to the office was scandalous. (This being a mid-20th century invention, women wore knee-length dresses and would switch largely by losing a jacket/sweater and adding jewelry).

    Men have the advantage that cocktail, semi-formal and business formal all essentially mean the same now, with cocktail having a little leeway for flashy shoes and accessories. Women have more options, which means more nuanced differences.

    Technically, what we wear for business is a leisure suit but, at the point it was considered by the general public to be informal, a tailcoat was standard evening attire and what we now call a tuxedo/dinner jacket was semi-formal.

    Unfortunately, informal has become conflated with casual, and casual had been downgraded in the minds of the general public to jeans and a T-shirt.

    Business formal isn't an oxymoron in a world where business casual is an accepted term. Casual used to mean separate blazer and trousers, sans tie, but you'd never wear such to the office. Now business casual is considered making an effort.

    A dark suit is simply no longer the default for business wear. Thus it's necessary today to distinguish between situations calling for the most traditional of business wear, versus ones where lighter suits and coloured shirts are acceptable.

    I too decry the ignorance of standards in the general public. Lacking the ability to install knowledge of 19th- and early 20th-century terminology in everyone's head, the best a host can do is use terms that will produce the desired level of formality.
    Last edited by Galcobar; May 12th, 2019 at 02:27 PM.

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