Time to stick out.
Attending a social gathering while dressed above or below the expected standard of attire is an effective trigger for embarrassment. Every culture has an appropriate norm for clothing. Violating the norm may impose a negative impression on one’s reputation amongst their peers which is not desirable if one wishes to thrive in community.
Now, I am not supporting conformity or a shallow desire to “fit in.”
Meeting the standards of attire is a matter of etiquette. Blatantly disregarding a dress code or an unspoken expectation of attire brings into question ones respectability.
Day to day, anyone can choose to dress how they wish. Be unique, wear clogs if you so desire. However, at parties or social events, dressing according to the expectation is necessary; especially, if the dress code has been formally been made known.
Overdressing and underdressing are both violations of a dress code.
Which would I rather commit?
One of my life principles is to be over prepared rather than under. Regarding wardrobe choices, this would mean to overdress.
Attending a party underdressed expresses a sloppy and lazy personality or a lack of respect for the party and, more significantly, the host of the party. Plus, it is plain embarrassing to show up to a party underdressed. People notice and you really have no excuse.
However, the severity of the offense depends on the degree of formality that is expected.
If the attire is jeans and a button down t-shirt and you show up in ripped or faded jeans and a regular t-shirt then the circumstance would not be too significant because the party is casual to begin with.
If the attire is a tuxedo, very formal, and you show up in an expensive business suit then you will be noticed and may offend the host but at least you look presentable.
If the attire lands somewhere in between, such as business casual and you show up in jeans and a button up t-shirt while everyone else is wearing slacks and dress shirts then someone is probably gonna be asked to leave the party.
(I realize that this post is very gender biased. I am a male so I am only considering this in the context of male attire but I believe the principle still stands. Sorry ladies.)
Overdressing is the way to go. Showing up to any party overdressed does not cause to much harm. The only negative message that may be expressed is arrogance or snootiness. This may be very offensive in the wrong culture but for the most part overdressing is acceptable.
Especially in Southern California culture. If a party is very casual and I were to show up dressy then I may be embarrassed. However, in situations where one is supposed to dress to impress then their is virtually no limit to how impressive one should dress. SoCal has a very laid back culture so when we do dress up we take advantage of it.
Either way, I am going to stick out. I’d rather stick out like a boss than like a slob.
What would you rather?