02 June, 2023
Kirstie Clements: Black tie required? Who do they think they’re kidding


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Perhaps it’s part of the post-lockdown trend to ditch the sweats and dress up to the nines, but more than a few recent events have nominated black tie as the dress code.

Black tie is normally reserved for events after 6:00 PM, and the traditional attire for men is a tuxedo or dinner jacket and bow tie (or papillon as they call it in French). For women, it traditionally meant a floor-length dress or a tuxedo.

Good luck, people, because no one’s following those rules anymore. To be honest, I’m one of the offenders. I just don’t feel comfortable in floor length dresses. I wore a plain cream pantsuit when I got married. I don’t own a tuxedo, although I would love to, particularly if it was by Saint Laurent, but I have a regulation black pantsuit that does the trick with heels and jewels.

At a recent black-tie dinner at the Art Gallery of NSW, I wore a pink silk shirt and green silk pants. I was slightly worried I may be underdressed, but I relaxed once I got there and saw lots of short dresses, mid-length dresses and pantsuits, with nary a bow tie in sight.

‘Just look fabulous’

In reality, black tie has merged into cocktail when it comes to dress codes, which pretty much translates as “Just look as fabulous as you possibly can.”

People are dressing with such wild abandon now and with such disregard for any trends or rules it’s making the world of fashion and style a much more exciting place. I remember a time in the 90s when if you didn’t have the right coloured pashmina or the current ‘it’ bag, you were consumed with anxiety before walking into a big event, at least in those hallowed halls of stupidity that fashion people occupied.

How great now that you can go to a new, cool hotel bar and somebody will walk in wearing a corset, a Prada bucket hat and green lipstick.

I’m throwing a birthday party for myself this weekend, and I have guests coming from the ages of 15 to 70, and the dress code is “whatever you have on” because they are all madly stylish in their own way.

This wonderful spirit of individuality is not fading, so I wonder why people bother to specify fancy dress themes when all the world is literally a stage, and everyone is starring in their own social media movie 24/7.

A friend was invited to a party this week, and the theme is The Life Aquatic, which stumped me, especially because I’ve never seen that film. We thrashed around some ideas, my friend leaning towards blow-up pool toys and mermaid costumes. My brain couldn’t get past a striped matelot, sailor’s cap and jaunty bandana because I always head straight for the fashion classics and feel hot and itchy at the mere thought of plastics.

It’s not really going to matter: whether the dress code is black tie, cocktail, or an underwater sea creature sci-fi theme, it’s pretty much all the same thing.

The post <I>Kirstie Clements</i>: Black tie required? Who do they think they’re kidding appeared first on The New Daily.