Wednesday 18 October 2017

Shane Watson: These days, dress codes are a mystery to all of us because there rarely is one

Code breaker: Kate Moss has worn shorts to weddings
Code breaker: Kate Moss has worn shorts to weddings

Shane Watson

Wouldn't it be nice, once in a while, to get a black-tie invitation. I'm not suggesting I want to dress up and go to all the faff of finding a pair of tights. I'm saying wouldn't it be a relief to be given some idea of what you were expected to wear to any given occasion?

The way things stand now, the dress code is WIFY: Work It Out For Yourself.

It's Dan's 50th, he's hired a room, there will be dancing, you're not 50 every day. Then again, we're not a bunch of stuffed shirts and it's 2017. Make of that information what you will, and best of luck on the night.

These days, dress codes are a mystery to all of us, partly because there rarely is one - you're meant to freestyle it unless told otherwise - and partly because if you are given a steer, it's wide open to interpretation.

Smart casual? No help to us whatsoever. For some people, smart casual will be blazer and tie. Harry Styles's is a Gucci shirt and leather trousers. My friend Jo's smart casual is taking off your riding boots and slapping on some tinted moisturiser.

Usually, you can take it to mean women in their best jeans and a nice top, or a non-attention-seeking dress and boots, but not heels. That's something else. That's actual parties with a capital P.

But even then, you might want to go to the less-effort side, because the people holding it are quite cool and you don't want to look like a weather girl or, God forbid, someone who has gone out to buy something specially, or someone who doesn't know that this month, all anyone is doing is slinging on one earring and some red boots.

It's odd when you think about it. We're old enough to throw parties for our teenage children, yet we're still calling each other up the day before the party to thrash out the possibilities: "Can I just wear my black trousers and that top? I think the green dress is too much, don't you?" etc.

We're supposed to love this dress-code vacuum because it's the opposite of uptight and intimidating. But everyone knows that where there are no firm dress codes, the snobs have an open playing field and everyone - apart from the elite - are at risk of looking like hicks at a Vogue party.

Speaking of which, American style commentator and friend of the stars, Derek Blasberg, has just been drafted in to revamp the dress code at Annabel's, the famous London members nightclub. The new rules state that men will need a jacket, though you can take it off (sensible). You may wear denim, so long as it's not distressed (fair enough).

And then we get on to the revealing stuff. Blasberg doesn't want spiky hair in the club. Hmm. He doesn't want bad highlights or exposed bra straps, or shoes that women can't walk in, or shorts, or cheap, ill-fitting suits. Oh dear. No help here. Note to Blasberg: you can wear what you like if you have established a reputation for cool, beauty plus fame, bona-fide poshness or fashionable eccentricity. The last time we checked, Kate Moss was guilty of at least five of the Annabel's dress code no-nos (she's worn shorts to weddings!), and they're not going to turn her away.

Similarly, Kendall Jenner in tiny gold shorts on a cold night or a Hadid in a sheer top (also banned) are messaging their membership of the new elite: we do what we want, including going to parties topless (as the society model Edie Campbell recently did).

That's the whole point.

For the rest of us, it's a lot more complicated.     

Irish Independent

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