With all that's going on in the world, what could be more important to discuss?
That's what I thought. And why this was a major conversation topic with friends over lunch.
(If you're a guy, come back tomorrow.)
Of course this can be an issue on any occasion-- but it has special stress at this time of year when applied to holiday gatherings.
Being told what to wear doesn't make it easier. Sometimes it's even harder. I'm stumped by "California casual." Even though I'm casual. And I live in California. What do they call it in the other 49 states?
Meanwhile I'm already veering off the subject--of whether your personal fashion police would consider under-dressing or over-dressing a worse offense.
Even for a faithful reader of Style Magazine, there are no guidelines for this--unless you're a celebrity who can come dressed in anything and make everyone else automatically wrong. Meaning anyone who muddles through life without a stylist.
I always subscribed to the "less is more" theory. The one that recommends you look in the mirror before leaving the house and remove one accessory. Something I never do, by the way.
Under-dressing, I felt, projected an attitude of self confidence. Even if I was faking.
I stuck to that philosophy until a Christmas party with parents I knew from years of sitting bundled up in the bleachers at high school football games. Very down-to-earth people. I waltz into the room in my jeans and thought I'd stumbled into Town and Country. Blinded by the bling. The worst part was that I like dressing up, and thus I lost a rare opportunity to actually wear some of the clothes that have accumulated for years in my closet.
Still that seemed better than being over-dressed. I've done that too. Too much sparkle doesn't cut it with the Birkenstock crowd. At times like that I've felt like I was wearing a sign reading "Tacky...and Trying too hard."
My friends at lunch all had recent fashion faux pas. One over-dressed at a Christmas party, one under-dressed at a funeral. We couldn't agree which was worse. What do you think?
(At this point in life I've figured out the easiest answer, especially during the holiday season: stay home.)