What Not to Wear To… a Black-Tie Affair

what not to wear to a black tie affair2016 Update: Links have been updated on this post; you can also check out our more recent ideas on black tie.

Looking for general advice on what not to wear to work? Check out our latest discussion.

On the off chance anyone’s company is still having their black-tie affair this year, we thought we’d give some advice on what to wear, and what not to wear.  (Although the best advice we can give you is: ask a colleague who’s already been to the dance at least once.)  Photo credit at left:  the perfect martini, originally uploaded to Flickr by berbercarpet

1.  First of all, ways to tell dressy formal attire is required:  generally, your invitation will tell you what to wear.  Secondary clues that dressy attire is necessary:

  • the event is held on a Saturday, not a Friday
  • significant others are invited
  • the event is held in a swank place that is not necessarily well-located near the office
  • your company holds two parties: one for staffers (held on a Friday night near or at the office) and one is held for the executives/lawyers (the dress code will be very different for the two events) (check out this advice on what to wear to a more low-key holiday office party)

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Weekly Roundup

Liking these posts? Follow Corporette on Twitter — this is the edited version of what we’re reading! (We also Tweet if we hear about a good sale.)

– Apropos of nothing, we thought we’d post this picture of this Versace – Tweed Short Sleeve Jacket iconbecause it illustrates something a few readers expressed confusion over — how to wear a turtleneck with a short-sleeved suit. Pretty, right? AND, the jacket is on sale from about $2200 to $680.

– MUST you go to women’s networking events? Above the Law tackles the question. (Although, let’s not forget “Hiring Partner’s” great analysis of Susan/Mindy’s networking skills. We say, go to the free lunch.) [Above the Law]

– Incidentally, HP updated his post to clarify that a) he has friends who are women, so therefore he’s not against women, and b) he’s anonymous! he could BE a woman. (Yes, and we COULD be a man.  Men, even! Anything’s possible.)

– Bargains, bargains, everywhere — Teri Agins offers advice on how to get the most out of it. [WSJ]

– Still have a holiday party to go to, yet no time to shop for a frock? Bunnyshop tackles the question of where to go for one-stop shopping. [Bunnyshop]

– If you’re partying with coworkers, Jezebel distills the various advice articles out there for you: Don’t get too drunkypants. [Jezebel] (Here here! That is why God created the afterparty.)

– Finally:  Wot’s that? You haven’t voted for the best quirky blog out there yet?  Please drop by and vote for Corporette.  [ABA Journal]

10 Things: About the Art Of Saying Goodbye*

how-to-end-internship-on-great-terms*The Pat Benatar song is actually “About the Art of Letting Go,” not saying good bye, but so it goes.

As the summer dwindles for summer classes of future MBAs and JDs, we thought we’d give some advice on how to say goodbye (and hello).

While you’re still working there…

1. Give people a head’s up that your last day is approaching — do your best to set up lunch, coffee, whatever. Until you’ve accepted your offer there is still very much an air of “let’s make the summers happy,” so now would be a good time to approach that Big Wig and see if you can set something up. (Hint: If you’re trying to organize something with the CEO or Executive Partner you may want to try to get a few other summers on board — it’ll be less awkward for you and it’ll be seen as more time-efficient for the Big Wig.) [Read more…]

Etiquette Flash: What Your Drink Says About You

what your drink says about youThe question repeats itself often throughout the summer months: What’ll you have? What can I get you? The subject, of course, is alcohol. Whether you’re there for the summer or for the long haul, you still want to make a good impression at parties. Thus, behold: The Corporette Guide to Drinking.

Photo by DOS82, courtesy of Flickr.

Our 2-second tip: The best kind of drink is the one that is sipped infrequently. In other words, try not to get drunk until the after party.

Wine. This is always a safe choice. It may reflect a lack of imagination/decisiveness on your part, however.

Wine Spritzer. This says, “Dieter,” loud and clear. It can be helpful if you’re determined to make it to the after-after party, however, because you’re drinking a weak drink that’s already diluted.

Beer. Again, always a safe choice, although it may reflect a certain desire to “hang with the boys.” We don’t suggest getting this unless you’re actually at a bar and can choose bottle or draft.

Champagne. Party time! Excellent! There is a time and a place for champagne — black tie events, specific celebrations — but in general, champagne can get you drunk far too quickly and leaves the nastiest of hangovers. Also, at mass-catered affairs you’re unlikely to get good champagne, so why bother?

Colored drinks. Most colored drinks are, unfortunately, girly drinks. It also shows that you’re a bit high-maintenance (appletini? really?), especially if the party is at someone’s home or at a bar with limited options. Avoid at all costs. The one exception is the screwdriver: The vitamin C in orange juice is great for energy. If there is a special drink being offered for the party, however, trying it shows that you’re game and open to new suggestions.

Drinks mixed with tonic or club soda. These are great options, provided you’re talking more than drinking. The glasses (generally a lowball or highball glass) are safe, and communicate from afar that you’re not afraid to drink with the group, and that you’ve got a touch of class. Gin and tonic is a great summer drink, as well. If you’re on a diet go for vodka soda with a twist — tastes great and soda lacks the calories that tonic has.

Martini. Go classic here, or not at all. Vodka or gin, with an olive or a twist (or possibly an onion). Nothing colored pink, nothing flavored. Sip — do NOT drink. Only get it served “up” if you don’t tend to make a lot of gestures when speaking.

Whiskey/Bourbon. Like the martini, a classic drink, and like the gin & tonic, it generally comes in a safe glass. Only drink it if you’re familiar with it, though, and can drink it without wincing. This also tends to have a “drinking with the boys” feeling, but it says you’re up for drinking with the executives/partners, not for drinking with the guys on the baseball team.

Rum and Coke. Maybe this is a regional thing, but we say: drinking it is one thing — it’s a dark drink and no one can really tell what you’re drinking. But being overheard ordering it could be embarrassing. After all, isn’t that the choice of most 19-year-olds?

Shots. Unacceptable unless the person in charge starts it. Otherwise, save ’em for the afterparty.

Diet Coke. This drink says that you’re a party pooper and/or a dieter and/or a bad drunk. (Party foul, anyone?) Still, being suspected of being party foul is better than actually being party foul, so do what you need to do.

What To Wear To: Summer Cocktail Parties

This is another new feature: “What to Wear To…” — we plan to tackle attire for office events that are outside the office.
It’s the summer. Your office is flush with interns, either from law school or MBA school. In order to impress, the company holds numerous summer events, including <dun dun dunnnh> the cocktail party. Maybe at a restaurant, maybe at a partner or executive’s house/mansion. The question looms: What do you wear?

Honestly, the answer here is usually “a suit.” You simply don’t want to run the risk of looking like someone’s date. Still, there are times when a cocktail dress is appropriate — and when that happens you should strive to be as conservative and as ladylike as possible. In general, this means your dress should not be:

  • shiny
  • satin (it wrinkles anyway)
  • strapless
  • low-cut
  • mini-skirted
  • relying on a safety-pin in any regard
  • appropriate for any of the following activities: being a contestant in a pageant, sleeping, or being a dominatrix [Read more…]

10 Things You Should Know about a Business Lunch

business lunch 2016 Update: We stand by the advice below, but you can also check out our most recent discussion on dining etiquette for business lunches.

No, we’re neither Debrett’s nor Emily Post, but we know a thing or two about conducting ourselves properly at a business lunch… we’ve also seen some truly bad manners. Thus, whether you’ve been to a million business lunches or you’re just starting out, 10 Things You Should Know:

1. As soon as everyone at the table is seated, that napkin goes in your lap. If you need to get up at some point, the napkin should be folded and placed on your chair. (Not the table — no one likes to look at a dirty napkin.) At the very end of the meal, when everyone is finished eating, you should fold you napkin and put it beneath your plate, to the left. This holds true even if you’re eating at a diner with paper napkins.

2. Your water glass is to your right. Your bread dish is to your left. If you get confused, put your hands in your lap and touch the index finger of your left hand to your left thumb, and do the same with your right — your left hand should form a “b” (for BREAD) and your right hand should form a “d” (for DRINK). We’ve also heard to think “BMW”: bread, middle, water.

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