Dear Annie: I recently attended the wedding of a college friend of mine.
In the days preceding the wedding, a buddy of mine asked whether I was going to wear a tuxedo. I told him no, because the invitation said "formal attire." I interpreted "formal" to mean I should wear a suit, whereas "black tie" would have meant men should wear a tux. We asked our respective wives and decided that "formal" meant suit.
The wedding took place during the summer in Southern California. I wore a true-blue suit, blue shirt and light red linen tie. I thought it was perfect for the venue, time of year and location. My buddy wore something comparable.
However, when we showed up in our suits, we were surprised to see that almost everyone else was wearing tuxes.
Business? Business casual? Business cool? Formal? Black tie? Black tie optional? Toptional? Is there a council of elders who decide what we can wear and when? I am writing to you to get the definitive ruling on ambiguous attire definitions. Feeling underdressed is the pits. -- Dressed to Be Stressed
Dear Dressed: Here's a brief overview of what wedding dress codes mean for men. If the invitation says "white tie," dress to the nines -- with a long black jacket with tails, a white bow tie and a white vest.
To a "black tie" wedding, always wear a tuxedo.
If it's "formal," a tuxedo or dark suit and tie will do.
"Semiformal" or "cocktail" denotes a suit and tie.
For a "casual" wedding, go with dress pants and a button-down shirt.
If you're not sure, err on the side of formal. It's less embarrassing to be overdressed than it is to be underdressed.
Dear Annie: This is in response to "Babied Pre-Law Student," who wants to attend law school out of state but is meeting resistance from her parents. What was not very clear was whether the potential law student is expecting her parents to support the decision no matter what the cost is to them. If her parents are willing and able to pay for in-state tuition and expenses, that is a boon not to be taken lightly. If she wants to go out of state, perhaps her parents could contribute the amount they'd pay if she stayed in state and she could cover the rest.
If this person is truly "an adult and able to make (her) own decisions," shouldn't that include paying her own way? If anyone is still dependent on her parents for all expenses, I am not sure she is truly an adult. -- Katherine
Dear Katherine: I feel the same way. Being an adult means being financially independent. I took the letter writer to mean that she'd be taking out loans and paying for law school herself, but I may have been too generous in that assumption. If in fact her parents are putting her through law school, she should absolutely not expect them to foot the bill at whatever the cost. Your suggestion -- that her parents contribute an amount equal to in-state tuition and she cover the rest -- is a good one.
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