Dress Code: "Smart Not Formal" (Male Version)

Vagabond

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Help! I am in England and rather casually accepted an invitation to a reception on Friday afternoon. I have just received a scan of the official invitation and have discovered that the dress code is "smart not formal" and that Kofi Annan is the guest of honor!

It's been three weeks since I left home. I have a suit, dress shirts, two ties, two sport shirts, chinos, two good pullover sweaters, and some polo shirts. I suppose I could go shopping tomorrow or Thursday if necessary.

What do I wear?
 

morqet

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Help! I am in England and rather casually accepted an invitation to a reception on Friday afternoon. I have just received a scan of the official invitation and have discovered that the dress code is "smart not formal" and that Kofi Annan is the guest of honor!

It's been three weeks since I left home. I have a suit, dress shirts, two ties, two sport shirts, chinos, two good pullover sweaters, and some polo shirts. I suppose I could go shopping tomorrow or Thursday if necessary.

What do I wear?
Are you going to be indoors or outside? I would say not a suit. Chinos, jacket, maybe tie. Think Henley regatta.
 

Vagabond

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Are you going to be indoors or outside? I would say not a suit. Chinos, jacket, maybe tie. Think Henley regatta.
Indoors. The event is the official opening of the Bonavero Institute of Human Rights and the building that houses it (and also houses undergraduates). Rowing blazers and boaters would not be appropriate.
 

hanca

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What would be wrong with a business suit and a tie? :confused:
Nothing wrong with that, but it may be too formal and they said ‘not formal’. Feeeling that you are overdressed is slightly better than being underdressed, but not so much better. The best is to make it just right.
 

allezfred

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Nothing wrong with that, but it may be too formal and they said ‘not formal’. Feeeling that you are overdressed is slightly better than being underdressed, but not so much better. The best is to make it just right.
Formal is more formal than a business suit though. Business attire is definitely the safest option for any reception.
 

Vagabond

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Nothing wrong with that, but it may be too formal and they said ‘not formal’. Feeeling that you are overdressed is slightly better than being underdressed, but not so much better. The best is to make it just right.
:unsure:

If I am occasionally a little overdressed, I make up for it by always being immensely overeducated.
:saint:
 

PRlady

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Definitely not a business suit. Smart casual would be nice slacks (or extremely cool designer jeans but not in our demographic) and a button-down shirt that doesn’t look like it goes with a suit, and a light summer blazer. Go shopping, it’s fun.
 

antmanb

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I'd interpret smart not formal as not black tie, but a business suit or a suit you might wear to attend a wedding.

Smart not formal is not smart casual to my mind. If they meant smart casual the invitation would say so.
 

barbk

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Some possible skating costume inspiration ideas in there for sure!
The guy in the pink embroidered suit looks like he escaped from the cover of an 80's steamy romance novel.

I can only imagine that sales weren't too great out of this show.
 

Vagabond

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The event started indoors with a Q & A with Kofi Annan and progressed outdoor for the opening ceremony, followed by canapes and libations. :summer:

Dress codes for Oxford events are fairly flexible, within limits.

The cotton blazer worked out perfectly. :)

Although many of the men (including, of course, Kofi Annan and Chris Patten) did wear suits, the one I had packed would not have struck the right note. "Smart casual" only worked for undergraduates.

Thanks for your input, everyone!
 

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