Dinner Party Skills IV: How to Dress

Demystifying Dress Code


It won’t be a surprise to our readers to learn at this point that we are not a fashion blog. We would much rather spend a Saturday in Lakeland looking for silver spoons and spatulas than traipsing around fashion stores and taking ‘candid’ photographs of our outfits. When you do what we do, clothes get far too messy to look tres chic most of the time and it is best to invest in a stylish pinny to adorn with floury handprints and sticky smudges. Be that as it may, G&T are sticklers for a little bit of etiquette, and dressing properly is something that can often leave you scratching your head. Black tie? What happens when you don’t wear ties? Does casual mean we can wear pyjamas? What on earth does ‘smart-casual’ even mean? Is there such a thing as casual trainers? (Probably). Here is us stepping out our comfort zone to answer all these unanswered questions.

“You loved the food so much you wanted to wear it”

How to Dress... 7

As host, it is important to make clear to your guests your stylistic intentions for the evening. If you do not specify on your verbal or written invitation, expect the embarrassment caused by being overdressed. Your guests will always outnumber you, and feeling like a twat in a floor length gown when your mates missed the memo is a fate worse than death.

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“It is a good idea to invest in a beautiful dress and have it in your reserves.”

As a guest, there are a few things to bypass in general; Ladies should avoid midriffs showing at dinner. In fact, let’s extend that rule a little more generally, we wish that trend stayed in the 1990’s where it belongs. Legs out or boobs out is also a good mantra to live by, unless a fancy-dress theme warrants it of course. If Mean Girls taught us anything it’s that anything goes in fancy dress… Gents should avoid shorts and if you even think about wearing a football shirt, consider yourself automatically uninvited the second it touches your shoulders. Try and keep your clothes clean and ironed, at least to begin with and If you embarrass yourself by spilling something down your front, just tell your host that you loved the food so much you wanted to wear it.

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Casual Vs. Smart Casual

Casual clothing is the sort of thing you can turn up to your friends in straight after work. Think flat shoes, a comfy top and your favourite jacket. Sling your trusty handbag over your shoulder and you are on your way. Blue jeans come across as more casual in comparison to black, which are a little smarter. Sling a patterned kimono on over plain black for a pop of colour and some sophistication to your outfit to fit a ‘smart casual’ brief. An easy way to elevate the status of an outfit is to wear heels; just something subtle and simple like a strappy stiletto sandal or court shoe. Dress it up with some jewellery and a clutch to show you mean business.

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Cocktail Vs. Black Tie

Cocktail should be a dress that is mini, knee or midi length and the type of thing one would wear to a cocktail party (duh), wedding, graduation etc… Not that we have to be dowdy or conservative, but a cocktail dress is not the type of thing you would go out dancing in on a Saturday night in Spinningfields and instead should be stylish without being too revealing. You will be all legs, so keep that in mind. Go to town with a dramatic heel & statement jewellery too.

The main difference between the former and black tie is length. Sure, you can turn up to a ball in a cocktail dress if you feel more comfortable, but how often do you ever get to dress like a princess? Black tie refers to the correct dress for a man (black dress suit, white shirt, black bow tie) but for ladies it warrants a floor length gown, one statement piece of jewellery and usually an ‘up-do’. Balls, dinners, big birthdays, charity galas etc will all require black tie. It is a good idea to invest in a beautiful dress and have it in your reserves. But something that is so gorgeous and timeless you will never get bored.

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We’ll let you guess which is our favorite… someone pass me my tiara.

Fly forth fashionistas.

See you next Thursday,


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Hello! We are Ginseng & Thyme, two friends and work colleagues from Manchester with a passionate affinity for food, drink and lifestyle. Here’s our food story, what’s yours? Twitter: @ginsengandthyme Instagram: @ginsengandthyme

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