Tips On Understanding Attire

Dodo Bar Or Amal Dress

Knowing what to wear to events can be extremely difficult. This may sound a little dramatic until you get an invitation and the attire reads “festive attire”, “country club casual”, or “black tie optional.”  Here is a great reference guide. These basic guidelines can be very helpful, but I also like to use context clues like setting, location, time of day, who is hosting and who is attending (does “context clues” make you have flashbacks to  elementary school like it does me?  -ha!).

Dodo Bar Or Amal Dress

For example, this weekend I am attending a blogger conference. The parties can be pretty posh (first context clue- host), and everyone is dressed to the nines (second context clue-guests). On Saturday evening, there is a “black tie optional” party. I immediately thought about wearing this dress since it’s long, but I knew it had to be the right location. For instance, this dress would work as “black tie optional” for an outdoor spring occasion, like an outdoor spring wedding, a party on the lawn of a home or country club, or a garden party. So I went to the invitation and googled the location and saw that the party was at an indoor museum/theater (third context clue- location/setting) at night (fourth context clue- time of day). Now, imagine this dress at night in a museum. Doesn’t really fit in, right? Technically this dress fits the “black tie optional” guidelines, but it might not be the right choice for this occasion based on the context clues.

Tuckernuck Earrings


Now, I have worn this to speak at a Spring Luncheon (context clue) that was held in an indoor ballroom hosted by a neighborhood women’s association (context clue). Since it was a spring ladies luncheon hosted by ladies, it felt right. But this dress would not look right in the same ballroom at night for a cocktail event hosted by an business organization. See what I mean?
Dodo Bar Or Amal Dress

If you are still lost, let me tell you something super cheesy I do that might help. Gather all your context clues and imagine yourself in the setting (location, time of day) with the people (hostess and guests). Imagine it like a movie you’ve seen. Now imagine you’re in the outfit in that room. Do you look or feel out of place? I know it’s cheesy, but it helps me. I hope it will help you, too.


Here’s another great example of how I choose accessories by mimicking what’s happening in my outfit (see Wednesday’s post).

Sometimes context clues can be even more helpful than your basic attire guidelines! I hope you feel more empowered when approaching the attire for your next event! Cheers!

Outfit Links: Dress – Dodo Bar Or Bag – Ottat/Myers Collective Earrings – Tuckernuck, similar HERE

Photos by: Traci Ling


  1. Jessica April 25, 2017

    This is such a handy guide – it’s so confusing what to wear sometimes. PS – your dress is ethereal!

    Jessica |

    • Carly Lee April 25, 2017

      Jessica, I’m so glad to hear this. Thanks for your comment!

  2. Megan | Honey We're Home April 25, 2017

    The movie visual is so good Carly! Or I can just call you and you can tell me what to wear!

    • Carly Lee April 25, 2017

      HA! Definitely!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *