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Thread: Hopsack for formal events?

  1. #11
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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.

  2. #12
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    Cocktail: Basically the same as business attire. If you need to attend a formal business function, the best bet is to wear a business suit and tie; and then be as dandy as you want to be elsewhere. It will help give you a reputation in the business world that you have your act together.

  3. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by LesserBlackDog View Post
    Business formal is an oxymoron. Formal refers to black or white tie, typically eveningwear, while business attire is by definition informal.

    Anyone throwing a banquet - typically an evening social event - that demands either the oxymoronic "business formal" or ordinary business daywear obviously doesn't know what the heck they're doing, so the rules are probably irrelevant and you can wear whatever you want. I would interpret this sort of situation as appropriate for cocktail attire.
    While this is technically accurate, nobody actually considers business attire "informal" in practice (or wears black/white tie in all but a tiny handful of scenarios). He's clearly referring to professional events at which people dress "formally."

  4. #14
    Varsity Member evanparker's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ruggedcasual View Post
    Thanks Ben...help me out...what classifies as cocktail attire?


    Think of a suit, but one you could envision going to bottle service bars in. a snazzy suit, a stylish suit, probably a little bit darker colored. maybe even a suit that is a little ostentatious. Wear something you would get noticed in. A set of cufflinks wouldn't even be out of question, or some kind of upgrade from your regular plain shirt to something a little more dimensional. Wear an exciting tie.

    That plus some other sort of flashy accessories. Pocket square would actually be appropriate for this instance.

    One you would wear to your friends reception-only wedding get-together at an especially nice bar.



    But the emphasis is on night and party and drinking. You do you and everything, but i think you can get something together.

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    What about one of Spier and Mackays minnis fresco or tropical wool suits? If there’s a medium gray in a suit with matching pants it adds to the formality while still allowing you to pair the vest.

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    Super Moderator hornsup84's Avatar
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    Cocktail attire dictates a suit for men, but after that I tend to range up or down based on what else I know about the event. If it's an after-work event held in NYC with business professionals, I'll likely be in a worsted wool, traditional colored navy/grey/charcoal suit, with appropriate silk tie. If it's a wedding that's outdoors in the summer, I'll likely be in a less formal suit--likely linen or a blend, maybe in a lighter grey or similar less "formal" color, and a woven tie or something less business-y.

    There's a time and place for sticking to the code, but that also should factor in what other people are likely to be wearing (but not always taking that as the end-all---for example, just because you know people will come in jeans and a cowboy hat to a BTO wedding, doesn't mean you're free to wear whatever).

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