A SENSE OF OCCASION & IMPLICIT DRESS CODE
An invitation/opportunity to attend an event is an honour and the fact that you are expected to dress for such an occasions is not designed to be exclusive but inclusive. The clue is in the title – “implicit” “understood” “implied” "unspoken” "inherent”. While dress standards may have relaxed somewhat over the decades, thankfully in my lifetime, an expensive pair of designer jeans or trainers/sneakers are still not appropriate for all occasions, irrespective of how much they cost. In the unlikely event that we were not taught how to dress, and have no access to YouTube or other social media we all instinctively know what is socially acceptable and what isn't, don’t we?
At an illustrious 80th birthday party I attended two weeks ago the family were there in full force and mingled in amongst them were those who turned up wearing designer jeans and/or name brand trainers giving the impression of coming to the birthday party to “hang out”. Where was that sense of dread as we knew it in our day of “auntie or uncle so and so is going to be there” or that they would blatantly look out of place in such a distinguished social setting or, more simply, the desire to want to look their best? While some elders clearly felt such misplaced attire was an affront to the host and did not display the reverence he so richly deserved, others tutted and simply shook their heads incredulously.
I am not sure what reaction, those who dressed so ineptly, expected to receive from their elders. Surely they understood enough to know that the ritual of making time to dress is indoctrinated in our elders and a ritual to be strictly observed.
A sense of occasion is an opportunity for gentlemen to pull out that tailored suit, dinner jacket, blazer, black tie or starched collared shirt. Ladies, it’s that time to air that elegant long evening dress, adorned with glitter, or colour.
At this festive time of year when my social calendar is packed to the
rafters kicking off with the works black tie Christmas dinner on Thursday my head and girly telephone conversations are filled with how to outdo last year’s evening and cocktail dresses, shoes, jewellery, handbags, layering fragrances with accompanying shower gel and body lotion, hairstyles, makeup looks my improving health and ever-increasing comfort walking, standing and dancing in heels.
This 55 year old mother and grandmother still gets excited planning for any upcoming event and the prospect of seeing the eyes of my date light up as I walk towards him, he kisses my cheek and there is an intake of breath as the subtle layers of fragrance permeate his sensual senses, the quickening of his pulse as I take his arm or when the expression of indifference is replaced with one of exhilaration as I walk past other men. The way we dress can often be seen as an extension of ourselves. A podium to show the world our captivating, glamorous, tempting, irresistible, alluring, interesting, charming inner self.
Equally uneasily, I now turn my attention to those mature women of my generation fortunate enough to still have slim legs or firm reconstructed bust/boobs and the need to put said assets on display in order to announce that fact.
It is clear that while some women are able to dress effortlessly in colours and clothes that are flattering to them others seem unable to emulate such skill as they get older sticking to colours and revealing attire of their youth that now only serves to emphasise unsightly lines and/or age them. A plunging neckline or the shortest hem should NEVER be given precedence over suitable undergarments which create the perfect foundation on which to build your look; fitting underwear that celebrate your strengths/enhance your assets and play down your weaknesses. Even the most beautiful of celebrities wear supportive undergarments. Very few of us can survive without our personal supportive safety net.
Unfortunately, all too often this hard lesson is only realised when the steady hum of conversation and laughter dissipate as you enter and like a fox caught in the headlights you can do little or nothing to rectify it. First impressions count. The most damning sign of all is that the awkwardness of your faux pas is either blatantly written all over your face or reflected in your body language.
We all have insecurities and our own set of unspoken rules that we follow as we shop and dress. If you want to create a positive lasting impression can I suggest that before you leave, you take a moment to look at yourself in the mirror and ask yourself the question, “will I be remembered for the right reasons”?
Continuing in this “dress code” context, below is my twist on the phrase “Men are from Mars and Women are from Venus”.
Most men invariably share a favourite pastime besides football and enjoy nothing more than standing side by side, drink in hand passing commentary on any woman that comes into their view.
To those less modest, and reluctant to embrace the changes in their body and continue to dress for the shape their body was when they were younger I would say, not wearing any supportive undergarments will not only encourage material to be caught up in every fold of your body but increase the chances of your continuing to be a “fashion victim”.
Veined mature legs on display or heavy unsupported breasts is not normally the signal to take centre stage on the dance floor gyrating your hips to the baseline provocatively. Just because you can doesn't mean you should!! Such an apparition is unlikely to illicit an approving response from others. Trust me when I say that inappropriate undergarments, or complete lack thereof, will create an indelible impression in the minds of other women and not for the “assets” you are determined to expose.
While a man may find it hard to focus on your face and be drawn to all you have on display the female psyche will be honed in on everything about your look that you got wrong. It has been said that women don’t seem able to compliment other women or lift each other up. Which is why when other women go out of their way to compliment me I see it as the highest accolade and pay tribute to those women who appreciate my efforts and have taken the time to tell me so.
Hair: If your hair is braided and you are displaying regrowth at the hairline, applying a gel that doesn’t leave any white flecks or residue e.g. ECO or (30 Second) can be applied with a toothbrush and the front of the hair tied down giving a slick effect and maximum reward for little effort.
Another such hack applies to grey roots particularly when sporting a side or top parting. A quick
squirt of Colourfix from Superdrugs again rooted/fixed using a toothbrush can be a quick and effective way of dealing with unsightly roots. The effect is temporary and not damaging to hair. The upkeep of greying roots or the colouring of your hair again to match your undertone are all things that go towards ensuring you keep your youthful glow.
Ill-fitting Weaves/Wig - Defiantly flicking your weave or wig is not going to lessen the fact that it is ill-fitting. Your weave/wig should frame and enhance your face not infringe on or detract from it. Trust me slaying your weave/wig is not a 30 second process and like most things in life take time and effort to perfect and create a credible natural look.
Makeup - Being aware of the undertones of your skin means that changing your favourite shade of lipstick to compliment that undertone can make an enormous difference. Mascara that is not waterproof may smudge by the end of the evening can leave you looking like you have a black eye. Knowing how to use your face powder BB cream CC cream or foundation can prove to be one of your most effective secret anti ageing weapons.
I am Back! Sorry about that. My son just gave me an "excellent" for my homemade Rice
Pudding with double cream and its 12:18 on Sunday 3rd December and Sunday dinner is ready. But I digress where was I? Oh yes! Oh speaking of food I forgot to mention the birthday party concluded with a delicious bowl of souse.
CONCLUSION: Knowing that when going out, you are likely to see friends and enemies alike I fail to understand the rationale behind just taking anything out of your wardrobe and hoping for the best. I can only justify this by concluding that you are determined to ostracise yourself to the shadows, lining the walls or hover at the entrance or in the corridor. Buying and wearing clothes that dress your unique physical attributes can create an understated, chic, elegant appearance. Our Windrush forefathers may have been cash poor in British society but when they were turned out for any event no one would ever know that. Our piers appreciate sophistication a sense of dress, respect for ourselves and tradition. Myself and all those of my generation are duty bound to instil that legacy in the young and to ensure that they inherit our customs, manners, courage and pride.