how to dress for a fancy soiree and not to go bankrupt – men’s edition

evening outfit, going out, night out, couple dress up

This blog post was inspired by a comment of Olivia to my previous post which reminded me of a story that happened a couple of months back – et voila! – a new post idea was born. 

Have you ever been invited to a work party or wedding or any other kind of gathering that required dressing up? If yes – you know the struggle. But imagine if you found out about the dress code element last minute?..

…I knew that my boyfriend was going to have a work party and all the employees got to take their +1’s. No reason to stress – just a work party, right?* 

*I guess here I need to explain that we live in the Netherlands and generally it is okay to not overly dress up for a work function – it may not be applicable to everyone, but this is what my experience has been so far.

This time it wasn’t all that simple. He came from work one evening and announced: “Oh, by the way, I forgot to tell you – remember that work function I mentioned to you? It’s a fancy dress event – all guys at work are going to wear suits. Any idea what I could wear?” And this news was coming from a suitless guy next to me within a week before that party… 

This right here – quite a puzzle to solve, huh? Here are some solutions I could think of:

Option 1 Buy a suit

This is probably the most obvious one. If you don’t own a suit and you have an occasion coming up that would require one, this is probably a moment when you might consider buying a suit – just because there will be more events when you would need it.

Pros: 

  • Suit is quite a classic element of men’s wardrobe, there will be days when you will definitely need it
  • Well-fitted suit can give you a sleek & expensive look and boost your confidence

Cons:

  • Suits can be incredibly expensive
  • We are all different and it will take time to find a perfect fitting suit – it may even require some tailoring services
  • Depending on your lifestyle, you may use it so rarely that it would be difficult to justify time & money investment

Option 2 Rent a suit

What if you really need/ want to wear a suit for an event, but you don’t own one and you are not sure how often you would need it in future? Then you may consider renting a suit.

Pros:

  • This is your life saviour when you need to have a suit for one time
  • It is much cheaper than buying a suit (even the least expensive one)
  • It would be higher quality than the cheapest suit that you would buy in mass-market

Cons:

  • It wouldn’t be tailored to you and might potentially look like a suit off someone else’s back
  • It wouldn’t be an investment into something that you could use in future which is a reason to think of whether it would be money well spent

Option 3 Get creative

This is my favourite option! Essentially you try to create an outfit from your existing wardrobe and buy 1-2 additional pieces to dress it up and use afterwards. Don’t get me wrong – this will probably not replace an actual suit, but if the dress code allows to get away with it, it’s definitely worth trying.

Pros:

  • It saves you money & time
  • You invest into pieces of clothing or accessories that you would be able to wear afterwards
  • It challenges your imagination

Cons:

  • You would need some styling experience and you would need to think out of the box
  • It won’t work if you have no items that would be more dressy/ semi-formal

In our case, we didn’t want to spend a lot of money and renting a suit felt like unworthy expense. As you can guess by now, I decided to get creative instead.

I broke down my approach to achieve this into steps on how to dress for a fancy soiree and not to go bankrupt: 

  1. Select your potential outfit base from existing wardrobe. For starters – majority of guys have at least one or several dress shirts, chino’s or other kind of pants other than jeans, and semi-formal shoes. The key here is to select items that would suit a formal happening.
  1. Analyse your selected items, try to put together an outfit & identify missing elements. Try to ask yourself: Do these clothes go together? Is it possible to combine some of them into an outfit? What would I need to add to complete the look?
  1. Make a shopping list of the missing elements & do a quick check online. The Internet makes shopping so much easier, especially if you need to find something specific: do a quick online research to find the items that would complete your outfit. Ideally, I would try to find the  missing elements that would be possible to dress up and down in future. 
  1. Pack your outfit and go to the store that you pre-selected from your online research OR simply order the missing pieces online. This one really depends on how much time you have. If you have some serious time constraints I would opt for going to a physical store and trying on a complete outfit together. This would save you from the risk of ordering something that would look nice & suitable for your idea online, but looking not so great or simply not working in your outfit in reality. 

In the end of my story, we picked a black shirt, beige chino’s, brown suede shoes from my boyfriend’s wardrobe, and finished off the look with a newly bought camel blazer & a bow tie. And you know what? This look totally worked!

evening outfit, going out, night out, couple dress upevening outfit, going out, night out, couple dress up

(c) Photo credit goes to the photographer at the Rosefield party

So, tell me now – would you rather break the bank or get creative?

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