Thursday, February 7, 2013

Men's Cocktail Attire

I got a great question recently:

"Need a clothing expert opinion. "Cocktail attire" is vague for a man. Would you wear a suit and tie, no tie, or go in a completely different direction?"

Ah, a rare instance in which it's actually more confusing for men to dress properly than it is for women. Ladies' cocktail attire is simple: wear a cocktail dress and a flirty pair of pumps, throw on some jewelry and do yah hurr. Standards for men are understandably more confusing.

As always, keep your surroundings in mind when considering how to dress for an occasion. This particular cocktail party is in the evening at a hotel in Boston and is work-related. This means you want to look good and tailored but not do anything to make your co-workers remember you negatively because of what you wear.

I rarely recommend it, but this is a time when a black suit would be appropriate. While it's too stark for daytime businesswear, black clothes are good for evening social occasions. Given that this is an evening social occasion in the wintertime in a major metropolitan area in the Northeast, I'd go with a black suit. A white or blue shirt will look fine, but if you have something bolder that's maybe a little much for the office, now's the time to bust it out.

If you decide to wear a tie (and I would), have more fun than a plain solid. It goes without saying, but keep in mind the pattern and color of your shirt when coordinating with your tie. Wear a pocket square. Even if it's just a plain white cotton one.

Finally, bust out a nice watch, some cool cufflinks, and some killer socks to round out the ensemble. And whatever you do, try not to get too drunk. It's still work-related.

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