A Gentleman parties
We are in the peak of the summertime right now, but quickly approaching the end of the summer holiday season. It is the time when people travel with their families, partners or group of friends, it leaves a longer period of not being able to stay in touch with friends and acquaintances.
Having the end of summer right around the corner will inspire more cocktail parties with the purpose of a quick catch up with some drinks and relaxing music. Almost everyone at the gatherings is likely to have interesting different summer stories.
As a gentleman you should consider any invitation as an act of generosity and kindness. Therefore, it is important that you respond to it as promptly and graciously as possible.
When you receive a number of invitations for the same date, you should accept the first one, as it is rude to weigh one invitation against another. And you should never wait for something better to turn up.
If you find that your schedule will allow you to stop in at more than one event on the same evening, you should do so. However, you should explain to the host or hostess ahead of time that this will be the case. For example, if you are invited to a dinner party, and you are unable to stay for the actual dinner, you should make your intentions clear.
Unless you have a tight schedule, or you do not like the company of the host or hostess’s friends, you should not turn down an invitation.
If a prior experience has taught you that you might expect an unpleasant behavior by a part of the usual group of friends of the host or hostess, you can decline the invitation politely.
WHEN TO TAKE A GIFT
When you are invited to another person’s home, for dinner or a holiday party you should take a gift. For a dinner party, you take a bouquet of flowers or a bottle of wine (unchilled, so that the host or hostess knows that it is a gift and is not intended to accompany the dinner). And for a holiday party you can take some snacks or a bottle of good whiskey.
HOW TO RESPOND TO AN INVITATION
As a sign of respect towards the host, you should not waste time in responding to an invitation.
If you must decline an invitation, you should give a straightforward reason for doing so.
Whereas for accepting an invitation you should not lay down any conditions such as “Who is going to be there?” or “What will you be serving?”
You accept the invitation gladly and prove to yourself that because you are a gentleman, you can have a good time in any company at any time.
If you discover that you can attend a party which you have already declined, you should call your host or hostess and ask whether you may attend.
When you discover that you must decline an invitation that you have already accepted, you promptly let your host or hostess know. You give a frank description of the reasons for the change of plan and offer a sincere apology.
Each party will have its specified dress code, which should be made clear during the invitation. You should understand it and get ready for it accordingly.
“Casual” varies with the season: shorts and a polo shirt for summer, jeans and a sweater for winter. “Business casual” suggests an open shirt and a sports jacket. “Semiformal”
requires a dark suit and a tie. “Black tie” dictates a dinner jacket and its necessary accouterments: a vest or cummerbund, cufflinks and studs, a good white shirt, and brightly polished black shoes. “White tie” demands the gentleman’s ultimate regalia, complete with tailcoat and patent leather dancing shoes.
Black Tie Optional
A GENTLEMAN WEARS . . .
dinner clothes (tuxedo)
evening clothes (“tie and tails”)
a tuxedo or dark suit
a dark suit
a suit and brightly colored tie
a dark suit or dressy sports coat
a suit and tie
a sports coat; tie is optional
a sports coat or sweater and trousers
jeans, trousers, or shorts
HOW TO ASK FOR A DANCE
These days we often encounter a full fledged dance floor. More often, you will encounter a person in a club or a social event that you find attractive, and with whom you hope a dance might be the right ice-breaker.
As easy-going as you might be, you do not simple stride up and ask, “Hey, you wanna dance?”. Instead, you should work your way up to the question by breaking the ice with a few simple comments. And later, if you receive any sort of encouragement, then you could suggest “I really like this song. How about you? Would you like to dance?” (Try to make sure to select a song that makes the most out of your dancing abilities, no matter how limited they might be.)
If you get a negative answer however, make sure to respect it and accept it. It does not necessarily mean that the person is not interested. You might have simply approached a nondancer.
The cocktail attire gained popularity in the Twenties and Thirties, when it became common in the wealthy fashionable households to enjoy pre-dinner drinks in the hours between the day and the evening. Essentially it is a semi-formal look that will take you from day to night, bridging the gap between casual day wear, which is too relaxed and formal evening attire, which is too prim and proper.
A suit is always a safe option, but if you know the setting is going to be more casual, then a jacket and trousers can also go well. The evening event traditionally calls for a darker suit and a daytime event for a lighter one. There is certainly more room for expression if you go with a jacket and trousers, so I really enjoy this, especially during daytime in summer.
When it comes to the type of dress shirt to wear, anything could be appropriate, but this is also where you could mess it up. If you want to keep a safe choice go for a solid shirt in a muted color. Don’t forget to match the collars to the desired level of formality.
In my opinion, ties should always be worn with a suit. It gives you the opportunity to be more creative with the colors and patterns while keeping the formal enough suit. If you prefer to keep the open collar route, go with the jacket and trousers option instead, but be careful with the size and shape of your collar to make sure you don’t venture into a Saturday Night Fever territory.
Regarding the shoes, it is pretty straightforward. Any dress show will be acceptable, regardless of the event. If you are in doubt, go with a black (or brown) Oxford or derby. Just don’t wear sneakers of any kind – that look was never stylish.
There are countless combinations of variable that could affect what you decide to wear, but this should give you a pretty good starting point on the Cocktail Attire. If you have a specific event you are dressing for, don’t hesitate to ask a question below in the comments or on email or any social media, and I can give you a more specific advice.
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