Totally Frenched Out

From the blogger formerly known as Samdebretagne

Monday, April 30, 2012

What (Not) To Wear

Now one of the major questions that I had before heading to the big soirée was - What was a girl to wear??  I mean, really, what does one wear to a château?

The invitation said "Tenue de ville", but that really didn't help me much. I did a quick google search and most Anglo websites said that tenue de ville meant business-wear, but some French sites also said it meant "street clothes", so which one to go with?

I had a hard time imagining people wearing street clothes to a fancy soirée, so I decided to rule that one out.  Now that left business-wear.  I don't really have much business wear because of the nature of my work, so out it all came on my bed.

After trying it all on with various combinations of belts, shoes and other accessories (and making a complete mess of our bedroom), I decided to go with a black sheath dress, a colorful belt and my most comfortable heels (for all that walking I was planning on doing).  I have this uber-soft fur shrug that I was dying to wear with it, but C advised me against it, saying I should try to be as "discrete" as possible.

As a side note, this whole idea of "being discrete" is such a French concept.  It plays into so many factors of life, and will often slip into conversations where people are about to ask a question they know they shouldn't be asking. As in "Sorry to be indiscreet, but...."

So my lovely shrug went back on the hanger and I instead took out a sensible black blazer and my pearls. And in the end, C was totally right, fur really would have been out of place with what everyone else was wearing - ie a black suit, and I ended up fitting right in with the rest of them. Leave it to a Frenchman to be able to give a girl clothing advice!

Just in case you ever find yourself in a similar situation, here is the breakdown of the different "tenues":

Tenue de ville: Business formal - a suite & tie for a man, and a pantsuit or a skirt/blazer for a woman.

Tenue de cocktail: The same as tenue de ville for the men, and for women, this means a shorter dress, like an LBD and some nice jewelery.

Tenue de soirée: We're getting a little more fancy here, with a Tux for the men and a long fancy dress for the women accompanied by some elegant jewelry.

Tenue de mariage: Still talking about a suit for the men, and usually a colorful dress plus a hat for the women.

To sum it up, basically things are a lot easier for the men!  But hopefully this will be useful for someone out there, and if nothing else, it will serve as a reference for me for future soirées!



Blogger Crystal said...

You mean faux fur right??

(I always find myself over-dressed at French occasions...still, I'd rather be that girl than the one in leggings and flip flops at a vernissage....)

May 2, 2012 at 7:39 AM  
Blogger Linds said...

I've never even had to think about dress code levels here before. (Guess that tells you how many fancy parties I'm invited too ;-) It's complicated enough in the States; I can't imagine trying to figure out what to wear here! Business, business casual, semi-formal, blah blah blah! Everyone seems to have their own ideas about what each dress code means.

May 2, 2012 at 8:59 AM  
Blogger Gwan said...

I'm so jealous of your experience, it sounded amazing! And thanks for the rundown just in case I ever get invited anywhere fancy ha ha. I'm also always "overdressed" - what can I say, you can take the girl out of the Anglosphere, but you can't take the Anglosphere out of the girl. I like skirts and dresses, sue me! ;)

May 2, 2012 at 1:31 PM  
Blogger Bostanna said...

Hi Sam...I agree with all the comments about how the French seem to dress up less than the Americans. I always felt over-dressed with my in-laws, too. I wonder how they got that reputation for being more dressed up and "chic" than Americans?

May 6, 2012 at 9:12 PM  

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