Plus-One Style: Dinner at Your Husband’s Boss’s House

Plus-One Style: What to Wear to Dinner at Your Husband's Boss's House | CorporetteWhat should you wear to your husband’s boss’s dinner party?  How does plus-one style (in appearance as well as approach) differ?   Reader L wonders…

My husband and I are both lawyers in our late (or, more accurately lates-est) twenties. He recently accepted an associate position at a new firm, and one of the shareholders invited us to a small dinner at his home along with several other associates and their significant others. The dinner is not until the end of March but I am already in a panic about what to wear. Any suggestions?

We have talked about what to wear to your boss’s holiday party, but the suggestions there (post and comments) are all very seasonal, so I thought we’d revisit.  The important part here, I think, is that you’re the plus one — it isn’t your boss; it’s your husband’s boss.  In my mind this is a very different approach than when you’re going to your own work-related social event.  Things that might be of concern were it YOUR boss: being too feminine, being interesting in that “I have a life outside the office” way,  having the entire social event run in a way that it bolsters your boss’s and colleagues’ good opinions of you as a work colleague and doesn’t undermine those opinions at all… But when you’re the plus one, none of that matters.  Obviously, you’re intelligent and a lawyer yourself — don’t pretend to be something you’re not, and don’t do/say anything that will lay the groundwork for a bad impression if you later meet another dinner attendee in a work-related capacity.  But: if you leave that evening and their impression of you is, “she’s pretty and makes a nice wife for Mr.  L,” that’s A-OK.  You wouldn’t want that if it were YOUR boss, but since it’s HIS boss it doesn’t matter.  (Incidentally, this has nothing to do with husband/wife dynamics — in general I think it’s the mark of a bad plus-one if they outshine you at your work events.  Part of having/being a good partner is knowing when to throw each other the ball and let the other person run with it, rather than trying to make all the goals yourself.  I would be peeved if my husband and I went to an event for MY work and he actively hogged the spotlight, or even if he led/perpetuated a conversation that he knew I couldn’t take part in.)

THAT SAID — what should you wear, whether it’s to your own event or your husband’s event?  My advice is kind of the same: if it’s on a weeknight, wear something you could have worn to work.  A dress in a work-appropriate fabric (with sleeves if you want to be conservative) sounds perfect to me, such as this one, this one, this one, or this one(Pictured above: Twist Front Jersey Sheath Dress, available in four colors at Nordstrom for $118.) If it’s a weekend night, I might still wear a dress, but perhaps a more casual one (such as the Land’s End dress we featured for the weekend recc a few weeks ago — perhaps with a cardigan and camisole).  For my $.02, I’d stick with softer, friendlier silhouettes like cardigans, and avoid satin, lace, and other “definitely cocktail dress” attire.  For propriety’s sake, keep an eye to respectability — no cleavage, no leg, nothing too tight; if you’re wearing heels I’d go for walkable ones.

Readers, what would you wear to dinner with your husband’s boss?  Do you agree with me that plus-one style (in clothing and approach) is different than when you’re the main person invited?  (Have you STOPPED taking any people as your plus-one to work events because they were bad plus-ones?) 


  1. immediate TJ :

    Sorry for the immediate TJ. I am having an issue with my current boyfriend. Dating 18 months, I’m late twenties, he’s 30. He is concerned because, although he’s completely happy with me and can see us picking up and leaving and moving to a city together and being happy, he’s not SURE if I’m
    “the one.” It’s basically that he doesn’t know how people KNOW that this is the person they are supposed to marry. We have all of the right pieces, but it’s like he doesn’t know how to make the leap to ok this is the girl I’m going to marry.

    Can any of you share any insight on how you and your spouse reached that point? How did you know? Did any of you have to sort of escort your hubby to that point? I don’t want to push my bf, but I also want him to know that things are great, and yes, he may be scared, but there isn’t really a way to KNOW.

    • Anonymous :

      I mean of course you know. Do you want to spend everyday for the rest of your life with the person? Do you want to be their true partner in happiness and sadness? He doesn’t know that. Don’t try to make him know that, find someone who will know that.

    • You reach the point of knowing by knowing. He will reach it with someone else.

      • Senior Attorney :


        If I were in your shoes I would set a time limit for myself and if he’s not sure by then, I would leave.

        I’ve been married twice, and both times I had to, as you say, “escort my hubby to the point” of marriage. And you know what? After two divorces I say to hell with that. Going forward I’m not marrying anybody who’s not super crazy about me and as anxious to marry me as I am to marry him. (And I realize that at this age that person may not exist, and I’m okay with that. ;)

        • AnonLawMom :

          +1 Just to clarify though, I’d keep that limit to myself. Don’t give him a deadline. Just move on if he hasn’t gotten there (whatever “there” is to you) by your deadline.

        • Bravo Senior Attorney! +1

        • Senior Attorney is wise. DH was married before me and he asked his (then divorced and remarried for 8-9 years) older sister at the time of his first wedding how she knew things were different/right with her second husband and she told him “if you have to ask me that then you should probably not be getting married.” He got married anyways and it didn’t end up working out. He told me that story when we were talking about getting married because he wanted me to know that he now understood exactly what his sister had meant back then because he felt like I absolutely was “the one” and that things were “right” and he had not felt like that before.

        • Anonymous :

          Hey I’ve been meaning to ask you- how’s the divorce going? Wishing you well

    • Anonymous :

      I believe “the one” is a poor phrase choice for a spouse. There is no magical “one” person out of billions who “should be” your spouse. Instead, “the one” should refer to the fact that you have MADE someone the only one for you.

      Your boyfriend should seek the advice of other men in his life who are happily married. It’s important both now and in the future for him to have mentors in personal life. It matters if you guys have children one day, or if one of you gets really sick and needs full-time care, or if you must have career/moving decisions.

      • AnonLawMom :

        +1 The idea of “the one” is a horrible, destructive theme regarding marriage. Find someone you love enough to put in the work marriage requires. Doing the work with the person makes them the one for you. Anyone who expects marriage to be a magical fairy tale because they’ve picked the “perfect” person is kidding themselves.

      • I did refer to “the one” above, but I think there is more than one “the one” out there for people. To me “the one” refers to the person you’ve decided is worth putting in the effort to keep the relationship going through ups and down because you can’t see not having them in your life any more even if it means compromising on things (obviously I’m talking about reasonable compromises here, not comprising yourself, your dignity, or your emotional/physical health).

        • KLG, what you just wrote has, I swear, been a God-send. This past weekend, my BF and I had some weird conversations and I’ve been questioning things since, but the way you referred to “the one” as just cleared everything up and I’m totally willing to work through these things with BF to keep it going.

          So, from the bottom of my heart, THANK YOU!

      • +2

    • I don’t think it’s at all unusual to feel uncertain about this. I’m not sure there’s much you can do to move things along. I’d make clear that you’re ready to make that commitment in the near future, and give him some more time. I wouldn’t make any major life decisions around him until you are engaged. That’s actually what led my husband and I to set a date — he was finishing grad school and moving, and there was no way I was going to quit my job and relocate w/o marriage.

    • Hug’s to you b/c I have had the VERY Same probelem. It is NOT you, it is HIM. FOOEY on men that use us then do NOT comit. I did EVERYTHING for Alan rangeing from cleaneing the apartement to cookeing for him to takeing care of him when he had the FLU and was and sneezeing and wheezeing and snotting all over the place, and for cleaneing up after him when he was drunk and vomitting all over my apartement, and also haveing sex with him whenever he wanted even tho he was disgusting alot of the time. Then he decides that he is NOT ready for marrage and kid’s, even tho we talked about it and I had sex with contraceptive’s, alway’s protecting myself to make sure I did NOT trapp him into marrying me, but then he is NOT ready either. I think we had sex 200 time’s at least, and I was not even counting, and he had alot of tenderness from me even when we were NOT haveing sex.

      So all I can say is hope it work’s but do NOT let him take to much advantage of you like I did. Do not be his doormat and have sex EVERY TIME he come’s in lookeing for it. He should NEED to earn it b/c he will then apreaciate you more. I think in my case he looked at my apartement as a place to come whenever he wanted attention and sex, and then he left after he had his fun. That is NOT why you buy an apartement. You also do NOT want him comeing over just to use your shower and toilet, like Alan did. That is terrible and I will NOT forgive him for stuffeing up my toilet and dad’s toilet. FOOEY!

      I wish you all the best with your man. I pray he is NOT goieng to turn out like Sheketovits. FOOEY!

    • TO Lawyer :

      Honestly, my ex said that to me and then we broke up and 5 months later, he was engaged to someone else.

      My personal baggage aside, does he have doubts about marriage itself or you as his future wife? 18 months is a fairly significant amount of time to if not know, at least have a pretty good idea about your boyfriend or girlfriend as your future spouse.

      Have you had to push him along the entire time? If he has doubts about marriage or settling down, I can understand that (to a certain extent) but having doubts about you is entirely another thing.

      Personally, this sounds like a red flag to me. How does it feel in your gut? I ignored my intuition for a long time thinking I was wrong and we could make things work and it turned out I knew all along, I just wasn’t ready to admit it to myself.

      • He’s said it’s not about me. And I completely agree. Our relationship has progressed naturally and has felt very natural and easy. He equates marriage with settling down. He says “seeing a future with someone” is the same as “the person I want to marry.” While I disagree with him, I think he’s trying to make this about marriage. Which I absolutely am not. So I don’t think he’s doubting me, it’s just he literally has no idea what it requires to go from “I love you” to “I want to be with you forever.” My gut tells me to stick it out because we’re great together. And I know that, given enough time, he would get there. BUT, I want a guy who wants me, knows that he wants me, knows he cant live without me, and is terrified of losing me. And that conflicts with what I have going on right now. I have no idea what to do. I’m literally stumped.

        • It takes growing up. Do you equate marriage with “settling down”? Do you think settling down is a bad thing? Do you guys talk about where you see yourselves in 3/5/50 years? Do you want to be able to have those conversations?

        • TO Lawyer :

          Honestly I was you about 14 months ago. And things didn’t work out all that well for me. But I agree with Senior Attorney’s advice (as usual) – set a time limit. If things don’t change, you do deserve someone who wants you and knows that he wants you.

          • Senior Attorney :

            How are you doing, TO Lawyer?

          • TO Lawyer :

            I’m doing well – thanks Senior Attorney! It was a long road to getting back to being me but I feel like I’m finally there (or getting close). How are you doing?

          • Senior Attorney :

            Glad you’re on the upswing.

            Same here, really. Long road but getting close to a new normal.

            The worst part is that Mr. S.A. is, for reasons best known to himself, choosing to litigate with me rather than just settle this thing so we can both get on with things. Which makes it hard to…. get on with things.

            But my Marine is home from Japan and that is a huge, huge awesome thing!

        • Senior Attorney :

          It doesn’t matter that it’s not “about” you. The reality is that he can’t give you what you need. Certainly not now, and maybe not ever.

          The question is how long you are willing to let this go on before you get out.

        • Gut Reaction :

          My gut is that he has reservations about marrying you. I would not stick it out indefinitely – I would have a mental timeframe and stick to it. I know a lot of “great couples” – who really loved each other, but never could quite pull the trigger on marriage (if that’s what they wanted). After a few long drawn out break-ups, nearly every one got married shortly thereafter in subsequent relationships.

          Also, people may disagree with this, but the length of time of your relationship and your respective ages make me especially uneasy about his long-term intentions. At this point, both of you should know – you may disagree on logistics, timing, etc., but whether you intend to be together forever shouldn’t still be in play. Is he a serial monogamist by chance (i.e., lots of long term relationships one after another)?

          I’m sorry :(

        • Anonattorney :

          @OP: just to clarify — are you ready to talk to him about getting married, or do you just want to know if he’s committed to a future with you?

          • I want to know if he’s committed to a future with me. He equates that with marriage, since I do want to me married to him (at some point).

        • prof on a bike :

          Not being sure you’re “the one” is not the same as not being sure he’s ready to settle down — which is it? Doubting the person seems different than doubting the next life step.

          My brother delayed proposing to his now wife for a long time — they started dating while he was relatively young, and he equated getting married with a house in the suburbs, a mini van, and kids. They did eventually get married (and almost immediately after sold his sports car and started TTC) and are now very happy. But, throughout those years of drama around the proposal, never once did he express doubts about her as a person or wonder whether it would different with someone else. The doubt for him was all about whether he was ready to be a father, etc, and he was pretty obviously pained about losing the person he loved because she was very ready to move onto the next step and he wasn’t.

      • +1 – my ex said the same thing. I didn’t listen and ignored it as a “flag” and we broke up a couple of years later when he finally admitted he didn’t quite love me enough to imagine a future together. You know your relationship best, but statements like that would make me worried now.

    • My husband wasn’t sure about a year in. So I broke up with him. I didn’t make a big scene (even waited at the post office that day for a package for him), and I didn’t leave the door open. No calls, no emails, nothing. He wasn’t sure, and I thought I was. It was sad.

      I moved on and so did he. We both dated other people. Months later he called and asked to get together. I was busy planning a funeral and told him I’d get back to him. Weeks later, I did. We had dinner. I wasn’t particularly nice. Frankly, I wasn’t nice and didn’t let down my guard for nearly a year. We’ve been together 12 years, married almost seven now…..

      So my advice is…. Dump him. Don’t look back. Be appreciated. And maybe he will come around. But don’t count on it.

      • This +100. I had the same situation, except after I left the BF who couldn’t decide what he wanted, I met someone else. Previous BF eventually came around and tried to get me back, but by then I was very much involved with New BF and realized how much different it is to be with someone who WANTS to be with me. Leaving Previous BF turned out to be one of the best decisons of my life because it allowed me to meet New BF and not carry the weight of wondering why Previous BF wasn’t happy with me and the worry that he’d eventually leave after we were married or had kids. New BF and I are now married and have been together for 13 years.

    • Anonattorney :

      Only you can really know the nuances of your relationship with BF, so I don’t know if this is just him expressing general hesitation, or if he actually doesn’t see himself marrying you.

      I have at least two close friends who were in this position. They both had been with their boyfriends (lived together, moved across the country together) for 8+ years. I think they both eventually just gave ultimatums — essentially saying I want to marry you and have kids with you, if you don’t want those things then I need to move on. It worked for one: she got married last year and they are great (they always were a great couple, he just had some personal hangups about the institution of marriage). The other couple broke up because the boyfriend just said no.

      Personally, I think that it’s kind of a red flag if his hesitation is centered on being SURE that he’s marrying “the one.” I think it’s a sign he’s either not ready for marriage, or doesn’t really know what marriage is or what it would mean to him. You can’t ever be sure with your marriage. You just need to be committed to making it work with that person, presumably forever, or at least for as long as you can both stand it.

      I guess my advice (which may not be very useful) would be to figure out why YOU want to be married (do you want that relationship security, want to start a family, you are ready to commit to him and want the religious or cultural label of marriage, etc.). If you express what marriage means to you and why you’re ready now, it might clarify things in your relationship. Either you both will have an honest, open conversation about what your future is and move forward, or you will find out that you’re really not on the same page.

      • Wannabe Runner :

        +1 to this and anonattorney.

        There is no “one.” Marriage is constant work. Kids are constant work. If he is the person you see doing all that work with, great. If you aren’t the one he sees, whether it is about your or his feelings about marriage, don’t waste your time. Find someone who is willing to do the work by your side.

    • Number 1. Don’t pick up and leave your life.
      Number 2. There isn’t “the one.” You choose to be with someone and choose to make a commitment to that person, come good/bad/ugly.

      I met DH when I was young and knew I wanted to marry him after a few months. Didn’t want to marry him at that point, but knew that we were on that path. It wasn’t a question of if, it was a question of when. And I was the least commitment friendly person in the world.

      If you want to be married, find someone who wants to be married TO YOU. You shouldn’t have to spend time trying to convince someone they want to be married to you. Life is too short and complicated.

      Good luck.

      • L – you are absolutely right: “You shouldn’t have to spend time trying to convince someone they want to be married to you.”

        If only I hadn’t taken me four years to figure this out. Six months after the breakup, I met someone wonderful. We have been dating six months, I don’t know if he is “the one,” but I know I know this relationship is 100 times better than the one I had.

    • Anon for this :

      “Escort” is a kind way of describing how I got my spouse to this point. However, this was after nearly 4 years together (we were both in our late 20s), and 3 years living together. My husband is just not a planner. And (as we discovered), he has a bit of anxiety about making big decisions because he feels like he has to be 100% sure about them. This issue also arose when we were deciding whether to get a dog.

      Basically, I had known for several years, in my gut, that this was the person I wanted to be with. But I didn’t feel the need to get married until we both stabilized in lives/careers and I started realizing I’d want to have kids and buy a house some time in the foreseeable future. He always assumed he’d get married at some point, but hadn’t really felt the need/desire to get married at that point. Not many of his close friends had gotten married, either, so I think part of the issue was he hadn’t yet started to think about getting married as something people our age do (I know, I know, late twenties is not THAT young).

      I brought it up with him, basically by saying, I know I want to marry you at some point, but do you feel the same way? I basically explained to him the reasons I wanted to get married, the reasons I wanted to marry him specifically, and the reasons I wanted to talk about it at that point. He expressed that he loved me, that he could see being with me forever, but the idea of marriage scared him, he wasn’t 100% “sure.” We ended spending a lot of time talking about it, and I’ll admit, it wasn’t always pretty. We ended up setting a rough timeline (I didn’t want to wait around forever if he wasn’t going to commit, but I didn’t want to rush him either). I think it ended up being 4 months or so. My thought was, he knows me really, really well at this point–we’ve lived together in a studio, we’ve lived long distance, we’ve traveled together, we’ve supported each other through some tough times–and I wasn’t willing to stay with him indefinitely without a commitment.

      I will be honest, those 4 months were tough. Sometimes I felt he was just trying to deflect me rather than actually think about it. I felt really, really vulnerable and rejected. And he was scared and hated upsetting me. There were nights I slept on the couch, days I looked into moving out (and told him about it), lots and lots of tears and fighting.

      I did encourage him to talk to other people about it, and I think that really, really helped. He told me about mentioning this to his dad, and his dad told him that basically, he didn’t marry his mom until she issued an ultimatum. They’ve been happily married 30 years. I think the turning point was when my husband started to focus on me, on our relationship, on whether he saw us together in the distant future, on what he wanted life to be like, rather than focusing on the *idea* of marriage itself. And when he started to accept that maybe he won’t always be able to achieve 100% certainty that everything will work out perfectly.

      In my opinion, getting to the root of your boyfriend’s ambivalence is the key. For us, through lots of talking/crying/contemplating/arguing, he eventually realized the issue wasn’t whether I was “the one,” but it was that decisions like this seem so huge to him that he is afraid of making a decision and getting it wrong. It almost paralyzes him, which is funny, because he’s really easy going about lots of other stuff. It wasn’t that he was on the fence about me. I think that’s an important distinction.

      Sorry for the length, but obviously I’ve thought a lot about this topic.

      • I could have written this story word for word. I agree that it depends on the root of your boyfriend’s ambivalence. For my husband, it was related to his parents’ divorce and his family’s dynamics afterwards. I was at a point (after being together 6 years and living together for 4) that I knew what I wanted and was not going to wait around forever. But I wasn’t going to set an arbitrary deadline, keep it to myself, and break up with the man I wanted to marry without telling him that I needed our relationship to move forward. So we had the difficult conversations, and he also talked to his father and therapist about it. And he decided that he wanted to be with me enough to overcome his fear. We’ve been happily married for 4 years.

    • My husband and I knew about 6 months into our relationship (after weathering two deaths in each of our families together) when we started talking about what we wanted for our respective futures, discovered that they were really similar, and then started using the pronoun “us” instead of “I” to refer to future things, like “I would love for our kids to be in this school district,” or “We should visit Italy some day.”

      I don’t believe in the “one” (though the hubs does), but I do believe that we are particularly suited for one another — and he came to the realization that he wanted to settle down, be with me, and wanted to stop looking — there was no worrying about whether I was it or not. The worries we had were never about our relationship or status or future.

      I know you’re happy with him now, but I don’t think you should spend time proving to him that you guys have a future. Either he believes it / sees it or he doesn’t. You deserve to find someone who has that same vision.

    • I always think: do you want to marry/stay with someone who you have to convince to do so? He deserves to be happy, as do you, and forcing something is not the way to either of those ends.

      I agree with the people who say there is no “one” and that you know when you know. When it is a seamless transition from not married to married. If you are getting married because that will make it permanent or change things, that is NOT why you should get married, because it will not.

      Truly, as we are not religious, the only reason we got married was for legal reasons. We are as together as anyone could ever be piece of paper, or no, and plan on being together until one of us kicks the bucket.

      Caveat, there also is no “forever and ever”. You just cannot know what will happen in two, ten, twenty years, but when you do not NEED to know that, you are ready to get married. Just being with each other is a daily reward.

      After 17 years with my spouse, 10 married, I am nuttier about him than ever, and it is same with him. You just know.

      • LE’s first paragraph is brillant. I had to “convince” my STBX husband to marry/stay with me and it was a mistake. +1 on Senior Attorney said uptrhead, I want my next partner to want to be with me MORE than I wnat to be with him.

    • My husband and I have been together for 6 years, married for 2. He is 2 years younger than I am (late late 20s). In recently talking about our timeline for having a baby, he said to me that he feels like he got married too young, and doesn’t want to have a baby too young. This upset me–I said, “What does that mean? I think we’re quite happy being married! Why would you propose to me if you thought it was too soon?” His answer: “I knew I wanted to spend the rest of my life with you. You wanted to get married, and I wanted to be with you. So I knew to keep you, we had to get married. But that doesn’t mean I don’t wish I could have been single like most of my friends for a few more years of my life, been able to be more selfish for longer, not be thinking about having a baby when I really want to focus on my career for a few more years.”

      Anyway, I think that puts a good point on it–after building our lives together through 3 years of dating, we both knew we wanted to be with each other forever. I told him I wanted to get married, and he wasn’t sure about the actual settling down part of it, but he WAS sure that he didn’t want to be with anyone else other than me. I think the problem of your BF being not sure if you’re “the one” is that it makes like he’s waiting around for “the one” to appear. Does he see something missing from a future with you? That’s what would worry me.

    • I agree with much of what is said here – there isn’t just “one” but there’s such a thing as knowing that you’re willing to spend the rest of your life picking up his underwear. I’m almost kidding. With DH, I realized that we were meant to be together when I found out that we wanted the same things out of life, that we had similar values and beliefs, and we shared the same faith (though different churches). We’ve been married 15 years, together for 19, and it’s been the best and hardest 15 years of my life. We’ve buried parents, grandparents, had children, sat in ERs with said children, argued, wept… you really need to think, when I’m exhausted from working a 12 hr day and I come home and the kids are hungry and haven’t done homework, and your father is confused because he has Alzheimer’s and you’re his caregiver and his ride didn’t show up… and the laundry is piled up, and the house is a mess… is he the one you’ll slip out on to the porch with and have a bourbon with?

      No offense, but marriage has nothing to do with your wedding or engagement. It’s hard work, and generally it sucks. I love my husband and can’t imagine life without him, and he is the kindest man I know (and one of the smartest) yet still I pick up his underwear off the floor every morning. And he puts up with my hair in the sink, and my non-morning-ness, and how I get snippy when I’m tense. Just think about how hard all of that is… and then imagine how much harder it is if you both aren’t 100%.

      Good luck –

  2. I don’t know about any of that, but I just have to say I want this dress in purple so hard I am going to cry….

    • Wildkitten :

      Buy it! That is too much wanting to not buy. Buy it and eat oatmeal for a month, or whatever.

      • Aww, such loving enabling, thank you! ;o) but unfortch, it is literally impossible, I don’t actually have that much liquid available right now… I am already eating oatmeal for a month.. srsly, nonprofits S*CK!!!

  3. He’s not sure you are the one. Go find someone who is. You are worth it

  4. I am not convinced that there is much difference between being the plus one at my SO’s boss’s house and being at my boss’s house. I would basically wear the same thing and try to stick to relatively safe, non-offensive topics of conversation and appear generally intelligent in both situations.

    • paperharvester :

      Agreed. Just wear something you love that’s not too tight, not too short, and seasonally appropriate. And be smart.

      • I agree. I wouldn’t wear a dress like the one pictured to my husband’s boss’ house – too low cut. But I seriously covet this dress for a date night, esp in the purple.

    • Meg Murry :

      I agree. And especially since the letter writer in this case and her husband are both lawyers, this is essentially a networking opportunity for her as well – even if they are in different specialties it seems likely that she will cross paths with her husband’s co-workers again in her career.

    • Diana Barry :

      +1, work events are work events in either case.

      • I agree. Don’t upstage your partner, but don’t view this any differently, or dress any differently, than for your own work event.

    • Wannabe Runner :


  5. If the boss has wood floors :

    …skip the stilettos. Go for a thicker heels or boots to avoid denting the floor.

    • Clementine :

      I actually go so far as to bring a pair of clean flats in my bag so that if I’m asked to remove my shoes, I have something reasonable looking to put on my feet. Many hosts and hostesses have commented on their appreciation of the gesture.

      (We’ve discussed the shoes-inside issue and where I live, it’s common that you may be asked to remove your shoes for hygenic/child/floor preservation/cultural/weather/preference reasons.)

      • Aren’t flats shoes too? Or are you talking about slippers?

        • Clementine :

          I have a pair of flats that function as ‘slippers’- they’re never worn outside.

          …I have been known to rock actual slippers at the homes of family and friends, but for my husband’s boss I would proably stick with a slightly less relaxed look.

          Also, this whole conversation has made me very thankful for my husband. Aside from the occasional weird political discussion, he is one of those people who can tolerate anyone for a few hours and make polite conversation with even the most difficult people. It’s not something I would have ever looked for in a partner, but the fact that he can talk about sheep, submarines, the weather, or even cake recipes with even the crankiest person make me very thankful.

          • Agree! It’s wonderful to be married to someone who is a great “plus one” and also a great “one” to be “plus” to.

  6. prof on a bike :

    Nerd problems: glanced at this point quickly, thought it said “PLoS one style”, and got overly excited. Sigh :)

  7. I hope this doesn’t come across as cranky, but I am pretty surprised by the recommendation that when appearing as a “plus one” the only appropriate option is a very specific type of dress (all of the recs read as the same kind of desk-to-dinner thing to me). There is a whole spectrum of clothing that would be appropriate here.

    Particularly when combined with the advice not to “outshine” the husband, this whole answer reads as advice that the wife show up and be an ornament — a “pretty” one, whose intelligence is irrelevant because it’s not *her* boss? I’m sorry if my reading of things is uncharitable, but I am surprised that this question was presented as having “right” answer that is limited to a very particular kind of dress. I’m all for helping my partner shine, but I don’t think that gets done with my clothing choices.

    • Anonattorney :

      Eh, I think of it in reverse. When I drag my husband to work events, I think of two things: 1) what should he wear, and 2) what are appropriate (safe) topics of conversation. I want him to be a clean, neat and pleasant, and ultimately to complement me. I just read this post as basically that in reverse: what should wear to come across as clean, neat and pleasant when I’m attending my husband’s work events.

      • Anonattorney :

        So poorly written. Sorry.

      • I see what you’re saying; I think what really stuck me was the unspoken “NO PANTS” rule—it strikes me as something different than simply advice to wear something appropriate. Those dresses are all a very particular kind of appropriate — pretty, traditionally feminine, possibly office-appropriate but not especially businesslike.

      • anon-oh-no :

        really? I have never, ever been concerned about what my husband will wear or say at one of my work events. I know he can carry himself just fine.

        • Anonattorney :

          There are certain things that I flag for my husband, depending on who will be at the event or at our table. There are also certain partners that I know will click with my husband so I let him know that he can be much more candid with those people than with others. Basic stuff. My husband does not wear a suit to work, ever, so he also regularly asks me what he’s expected to wear to things that require him to dress business casual +.

          I’m not concerned about my husband carrying himself; instead, I look at it as giving him some good background information so he doesn’t stick out as too casual, and is aware of any tricky issues with certain people. I expect (and ask him) to do the same with me when we attend his events.

    • BankrAtty :

      I read this the same way, @AEK. The response to the OP bugged me for all the reasons you identified.

    • I hear you. Not only do I disagree with the mentality, but I also think my partner would be embarrassed if I went to his work event and played dumb. We value each other’s intellects. The “outshining” behavior that is described–hogging the spotlight or having a long conversation that you knew one of the participants could not engage in–are not appropriate in either circumstance.

      I do think clothing choice can help, just like it helps make a good first impression to look polished and dressed appropriately when meeting anyone for the first time (although I agree that the options here are not so restricted to a desk-to-dinner dresses as the post makes it seem).

    • Diana Barry :

      True. Particularly since the OP is a lawyer also, I would look at it as a “both of their bosses” networking event rather than a plus one event.

      I would usually also wear a blazer to these kinds of things.

    • My husband is in politics, and I’m in law. When I started practicing in BigLaw, most of my partners were staunchly anti-[husband’s party]. I asked to H to not discuss politics at very early events, but he (more experienced with these work/social events) disagreed with my take. At some of our events, it came up as part of the natural conversation (we live in DC so it’s kind of a given convo topic), and I was surprised at how thought-provoking, respectful and appropriate the conversations were with him voicing a different perspective (nothing the senior partners hadn’t heard before, of course, but I think they respected being able to have a conversation about it – and, shocking, the litigators enjoyed ribbing him a bit on certain topics). One of my most senior partners later started asking about husband’s take on certain political events.

      A decade later, and his approach makes a great deal more sense to me. Given his position, honestly, it would have been weirder for him to remain totally neutral. Also, more partners remembered him than other spouses who maybe played it safer. Anyway, I guess if the roles were reversed, I would have been annoyed if I had been asked to remain quiet so as not to offend (at the time, I think I was afraid I wouldn’t be given work if people found out I was voluntarily associated with a [husband’s party!]).

      • I would be furious with my husband if he did this and went against a direct request that I’d made ahead of time because he “knew better.” What did you do while he held court — play with your food and giggle? No wonder the partners remembered him afterwards.

    • I don’t think that the advice is gender specific as Kat clearly spoke about her husband not outshining her. That said, I wouldn’t worry so much about “outshining” anyone – when I take Mr. AIMS to work stuff I want everyone to walk away thinking he’s awesome, and I assume that he wants the same of me.

      • While I somewhat agree with the complaints, I do think that my husband’s job at my work events is to make me look good and vice versa. But sometimes being outgoing and intelligent is the way to do that. Everyone at my husband’s work knows I am a lawyer and at his work events I discuss everything from legal stuff in the local news, to local and national politics (he’s in a fairly political job so it’s unavoidable, but I always keep a mind towards who his bosses are supporting and whether it’s an issue that my husband needs to be seen as having a particular view on), to kids and school, as appropriate. I know some of his superiors remember me because of my active participation in those conversations.

        As for the dress recommendation thing, I think that’s a geographic thing. At my former job, I can’t imagine ever attending something like this not in a dress simply because that’s what everyone else would be wearing to that type of event. Now I live and work elsewhere and I know there will be a much wider variety of choices at the event.

  8. Another Threadjack :

    Hello everyone. I am a recently engaged. I am starting a clerkship in September 2014 that ends in late August 2015. I am having trouble deciding when to have the wedding. Some time during the clerkship? The week after it ends (I don’t have post-clerkship employment lined up, could having a later date I am available to start present a problem? I’m not crazy about the idea of a hot August/early Sept wedding either)? Just plan a date at some point after the clerkship ends and hope it works out with my next employer? Between the bar exam and clerkship would be ideal, but I don’t think it is realistic. I also doubt I’ll have my next job lined up for at least a year, and that seems like a long time to wait to set a date. Thanks for any advice!

    • You should repost on the Coffee Break thread, but here’s what I would think about:
      How strenuous will your clerkship be? Will you be expected to be working 9 am – 9 pm, or will you have time to do wedding planning stuff?
      Will you get vacation time during your clerkship?
      Where do you and your fiance want to get married? Where you are clerking, where you might move to afterward, or neither (maybe a hometown)?

      I got married toward the end of my clerkship and planned over about 6-7 months. We wanted to get married where we lived at that point, and the judge I worked for was very flexible. We did not take a honeymoon right away, though, in part because I didn’t want to take so much time off toward the end of the clerkship.

      And congrats :)

      • Another Threadjack :

        Thanks! I’ll re-post it there, good idea.

        To answer the questions:

        I think my clerkship will be pretty flexible and 9-5ish.

        The clerkship is in the area where fiancee and I currently live and we plan/hope to stay here. I don’t know the details of time off. I suppose I should ask, I just hate to broach the topic before I even start the job.

        We probably will get married somewhere within a six-hour drive of where we are currently living/working.

        I definitely wouldn’t mind taking a delayed honeymoon and figuring out the details of that after I know what my next job would be.

        Thanks for sharing your experience!

  9. My boyfriend and I talk a lot before we go to events. He is a firefighter and I am the newest attorney in our area and working for a well known attorney in town. When we go to my events, I help pick out his outfits (and tie his ties) and I give a run down about the people to expect and topics. He can handle his own in most situations, and he is more extroverted than I am. At his events, I tend to stick out because I am an attorney. I tend to stay quiet, but I do not play dumb or overly demure.

    As far as attire, I will dress mostly in what I was wearing at work that day, and change my accessories.

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