Don’t know what to wear? Don’t be afraid to ask

Don’t know what to wear? Don’t be afraid to ask

Q. Apparently I will be invited this year to our company’s Memorial Day Weekend trip to Hot Springs. I know there will be a nice dinner and a trip to the Springs. What should I pack for the 3 days?

A. You are the third man to contact me in recent weeks to ask what to wear or bring to an event, and you’re the first who at least thought to tell me where it was and a little about it. In all cases, the first source of your answer should be from the person/people inviting you. I realize many men hate to ask, but this reminded me of another part of the conversation I had years back with Michael Strahan about dressing:

He told me, “When we are invited to an event, the other guys ask, ‘Where is it going to be?’ I ask, ‘What is the dress code?’ If the answer is ‘casual,’ I ask, ‘Nice casual? Dressy casual? Or blue jean casual?'” I mentioned my thoughts that while women are accustomed to asking questions about what to wear, men are generally uncomfortable doing so, as I imagine might be your concern with your upcoming trip. Michael seemed surprised and volunteered, “I’m big on that. I want to know what people will be wearing; then I know I will be comfortable when I am there.” How intelligent and how refreshing! 

It is a two-second question that can eliminate or greatly reduce discomfort. It also  demonstrates interest on your part to others. In your case, it sounds as if some of those attending are superiors. I suggest that it reflects very positively on your to make a one-to-one call before you attend such an event when you have an excellent reason, and the manager’s time may be limited at the event. 

 After you’ve asked about the dress code, it is important to know what the answers mean. For the dinner, even for a man who prefers to wear suits, a navy blue suit, white shirt, and tie would be inappropriate — it is far too dressy for casual events. In certain situations, “dressy casual” may include a suit, perhaps a less-formal khaki cotton poplin; this is the choice of many of today’s fashionable dressers who don’t want to be overdressed. And to soften the stuffiness of establishment dressing, it might be matched up with a patterned shirt (maybe a small plaid or gingham check) and a quiet tie. 

You will want to bring swimwear which should be a simple dark style, not too short. Wear it with a knit polo or a quiet T-shirt with no message. Don’t try to match it too closely to the swim trunks; you want to avoid a too-studied look.      

In terms of other casual wear, find out if others will be wearing shorts, khakis, etc. Are you sure there is only one better-dressed event? If there’s more than one high-end dinner, you will not want to wear the same outfit for both. The same is true if you’re going to the casino or a club beyond a sports bar.  In those cases bringing well-cut chinos, a blazer and the finest cotton knit polo shirt you own will work. Or this could be the time for a lightweight crewneck sweater layered over a button-down collar shirt, with or without a tie. 

A few versatile items that can be used in very casual to almost-dressy events include polos, a pastel blazer, a high-end jacket. Given that you will be near the water and out and about, you will probably need a greater assortment of footwear than for an average 3-day weekend.  Since it is in-state, if you are driving yourself, you may be able to over-pack a bit by throwing extra shoes into your vehicle.

Again, before all of the above, please take a moment or two to ask either the “host” or a peer who has attended before what others are wearing. That said, be sure you ask someone whose taste you trust – if the guy who tells you to wear sandals, also wears them to the office, it doesn’t have much validity.

Please send your men’s dress and grooming questions to MALE CALL:

Categories: Male Call