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Wedding Clothes
andres_s_p_b's brother is getting married in July. Unlike our wedding, which was cheap and small, or my sibling's wedding, which was fun and small, or andres_s_p_b's dad's wedding, which was in a backyard and actually kind of middling-sized but only because the bride's immediate family is enormous, this is going to be a Standard American Wedding, with the scary parts. I am not sure what to wear.

Andres has been told that he is not to wear his tux (he likes his tux). A particular, expensive, brand and color of suit has been selected for the groomsmen; Andres' brother has strongly suggested that he at least go try the darn thing on, but knowing Andres has also said that any "light-colored suit" will be acceptable. He further notes that the bride's sisters will be wearing navy blue dresses, in case I wish to coordinate.

I do not wish to coordinate. I am considering having t-shirts made up that say "Hi, we're the black sheep."

I was, to my own surprise, totally fine wearing a skirt all day at my sibling's wedding. I do not expect I will be anything like comfortable enough at the upcoming wedding to support skirt-wearing; though I suppose I could operate on the theory that I'm going to be terribly uncomfortable anyway so why bother mitigating? (Note to self: REMEMBER EARPLUGS)

Poll #1403150 Wedding Clothing Options

Which of these outfits do you think I should wear?

Black pants, tiger shirt (yellow and black with gold thread and various animal prints). This is what I wore to the Justice of the Peace's office to get married in. Pro: Pants. Con: May make bride's family sad.
The green outfit I wore to my sibling's wedding. Pro: Looks totally awesome when dancing. Con: Belongs at Renaissance Festival.
The sundress I bought for Andres' dad's wedding. Pro: I'll be easy to recognize if anyone compares pictures from the two events. Con: Almost certainly too casual.
The skirt I brought on the cruise (ankle-length velvety stuff with very dark pattern of flowers and leaves) and a plain black button-down shirt. Pro: I already own it. Con: Black.
Buy a "light-colored suit" to match Andres' hypothetical future "light-colored suit". Pro: Can pretend to be each other. Con: May make bride's family sad. Also, expensive.
Suck it up and buy a vaguely appropriate dress. Pro: Might blend in. Con: Hate shopping. And dresses.
Jeans and "Hi, we're the black sheep" t-shirt. Pro: Funny. Con: Will definitely make bride's family sad.
Some other thing I already own. (Please describe in comments.)
Some other thing I should go out and purchase/borrow/make. (Please describe in comments.)
Is it too late to cancel the plane tickets?

If I have to buy something, will you help me shop?

Yes, but I'm incompetent too.
No, but I can recommend you a website/store/personal shopping service.
No! For god's sake don't go in there! There are clothes in there!

Am I worrying too much?

Yes, but not any more than you usually do.
You're not worrying enough. Standard American Weddings are SRS BZNS, man.
Ticky box!

For calibration:

1. I have been totally comfortable at various semi-formal company holiday parties in the black pants and tiger shirt. (Well, comfortable about clothing, anyway.)
2. I was fine at my sibling's wedding in the green outfit, but I'm not sure how much of that was because it belonged in the setting and was long and loose enough to be physically comfortable and how much was because I was really, really comfortable otherwise (A Renaissance Festival! I blend right in! And I don't have to make a good impression on anybody!) and therefore had some slack to play with.
3. I was not, ultimately, fine in the sundress at Andres' dad's wedding, but I started out okay and it decayed fairly slowly. The dress only really started being a problem after the other factors (too loud; music not good for me to dance to; pressure to dance in a showing-off way) had worn out pretty much my entire reserve of cope.
4. Likewise, I was not in fact fine in the long dark skirt at dinner on the cruise, but that was probably more of a general running-out-of-cope than anything specifically wrong with the skirt. It's a better skirt, physically, than the sundress, because it is long and loose.

Being in a skirt uses cope. Being expected to interact with people I don't know uses cope. Navigating a situation with rules I am uncertain of requires cope. Many other things I expect to find and situations I expect to encounter at the reception (not the ceremony -- sitting on a bench looking at something is quite easy, so I'm not worried about that part) require great gobs of cope. I suspect that adding the drain of skirt-wearing to a large, probably loud, event with social rules I am unclear on, a high level of expected interaction with people I don't know, and fewer than four people I know well enough to be comfortable around, one of whom will be very busy indeed, is a Bad Idea; on the other hand I am also pretty sure that not wearing considered-appropriate clothing is breaking one of those rules. So I am trying to work out the balance between the amount of distress to others caused by breaking down in tears and needing to be removed, on the one hand, and wearing weird stuff, on the other. (Note: Not wearing a skirt is not actually going to prevent needing to be removed, in the event that the situation runs me out of cope otherwise. It will, however, delay it.)

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IMO, it would be good to look for the highest combined score of your comfort and appropriate degree of dressiness. In NYC, it's normal and reasonable to wear pants to a dressy occasion as long as they are dressy pants. Perhaps the outfit to buy is a classy pants outfit that you feel like a million comfortable bucks in. Or perhaps your own wedding outfit already fits that bill.

How does one identify dressy pants? I know that capris and shorts and jeans and sweatpants are not dressy, but I'm not sure what subtle distinctions I should be looking for when I am looking at things that are all, so far as I can tell, basic standard pants.

Higher quality fabrics with a good drape and/or good cut to them usually point toward dressy pants.

What is "good"? What is "higher quality"? I tend to look for "durable", personally, and I don't think that's the quality in question here.

I, uh, I'm not totally incompetent here -- I have two pairs of black pants and I can tell which one's dressier, because the pair I'm wearing now are made of sturdy cotton-based fabric (uh, I think; it feels kind of cottony) and cut more or less like jeans, so they're "business casual" at best, and the other pair is made of something softer so it's better. But I don't know how much better, if that makes sense -- I mean, maybe they're reasonable semi-formal pants, and maybe they're just the teeniest skosh above this pair. I don't know.

I cannot answer this with words. Meh.

What element of skirt-wearing, if you can/don't mind answering, takes cope? Would something like palazzo pants work? They're flowy and dressy like skirts, but divided like pants.

I echo no black, and white only as an accent.

And unfortunately, I do not think we will be co-located with shopping time at a suitable time --- unless! You're going to 4th Street, right? When do you arrive?

What element of skirt-wearing, if you can/don't mind answering, takes cope?

I am not sure. Short skirts are right out because they require me to constantly spend brain on where my legs are so my underwear isn't visible. Skirts that restrict movement are deeply problematic because they make me nervous.

But there seems to be some residual "this is not right" even with nice roomy ankle-length skirts. It doesn't take a lot of cope, but it's over on the cope-requiring side rather than the enjoying side.

I am going to 4th Street! I think we're getting in Friday afternoon? I can check when I get home.

Edited at 2009-05-22 12:04 am (UTC)

picking up a dangling thread

Has the what to wear dilemma been resolved? If not, if you want, we could maybe find somewhere to look Friday morning/early afternoon, prior to the opening ceremonies? You have my cell #, I think, if it seems like a good idea at the time. (I am also contemplating an expedition to Dreamhaven either Thurs. or Friday; I forgot to ask my brother if he got Thurs. off work, so I'm not sure how early I'm heading up from where he & fam live in Rochester. But I really want to go, and also my comic store guy (and how did I get a comics store guy? I didn't used to have one...) mentioned an apparently-awesome comics store, too, which I have not looked up particulars on yet.)

Re: picking up a dangling thread

It has sort of been resolved. It turns out that the trouble with locating the exact correct balance between "does not make me flee screaming", "sufficiently formal", and "gender appropriate" and then buying that is that it relies on "that" being available in stores, which is not so much the case at this time (casual summer clothes, yes; pantssuits, no). I have a suit now. It's sort of a bluey gray, and it wins on "does not make me flee screaming" and "sufficiently formal" while mostly failing "gender appropriate" for this application. If I have to give up an axis, that's the one to give up, so I am okay with this.

I still need to find a thing to wear under it, and shoes, although I suppose I should actually put the few existing formal shoes I have next to it and see if they look okay. Oh, yeah, and get the pants hemmed. So it's not really resolved, but it's kind of under construction.

I have a "not right" feeling with shorts (and, to some extent, with flimsy dress slacks) that really amounts to the sensations of wearing it being directions that I usually associate with not actually being dressed.

I wonder if something like that would be happening with skirts, too. I know it would for me.

Edit: Also, 4th-street -- we're getting there Thursday afternoon, about 4:00.

Edited at 2009-05-23 05:44 pm (UTC)

The ideas that go with the "other" checkboxes:

* Can you obtain a not-black shirt that would also go with the skirt from the cruise?

* Do you have an interview suit or something along those lines that could be adjusted to be less business-formal (by changing the shirt/accessories with it)?

For that matter, one other option in the not-dress direction might be doing something in a slacks/pantsuit sort of thing that's navy blue, and thus is Making An Effort To Coordinate despite being not-a-dress. This might make the bride's family less sad.

Can you obtain a not-black shirt that would also go with the skirt from the cruise?

The shiny purple shirt might go. Not sure.

Do you have an interview suit or something along those lines

I had one, that I bought in Pittsburgh, but I never actually wore it and have now given it to Goodwill on grounds that it's made of wool and there's maybe half a month during the year in which it would be possible to wear it out here.

something in a slacks/pantsuit sort of thing that's navy blue

Hmmmmm. And then I'd have an interview suit....

I'd go with the navy blue dress slacks option. Either with a matching navy blue top, or a light colored top that co-ordinates with Andres and his suit. You'll be more comfortable than if you were in the skirts, which is good. And you'll match in the pictures, which will make the various families happy. If you can make it interview worthy for future use, it is a slam dunk.

Can you obtain a not-black shirt that would also go with the skirt from the cruise?

This was my primary not-having-to-shop (at least not much) thought as well. Along with the if you have to shop anyway, might as well find a navy interview suit, which would allow you to go more for the tailored formal lines rather than the usual feminine formal look, which I suspect would suit your comfort zones better. And navy interview suits will always be, um, suitable.

I like the shopping thing, so I wish there was less of a continent between us - I'd more than happily help you shop. (I shop for Nick, which involves buying stuff, bringing it home for him to examine and try on, and then exchange all the failed items.)

As far as clothes go, I'd really suggest something simple and not black. Navy blue slacks, if you own such a thing, or gray, or a very simple loose skirt. I'm going to get off my phone and on to an actual computer so that I can send you links with pictures and suggestions and the like.

(Express is one of my favorite stores, hence all the links to them...)

If memory serves me correctly, halter-style tops look rather nice on you. Something like this would look lovely, but is also probably too far out of your comfort zone:

A long dress with flat sandals would be appropriate, and you can think of it like the green dress as more of a swishy costume than a dress:

Neutral colored dress pants would probably be a good thing to own regardless:
(For dress pants, you want something with a bit of width in the leg but not baggy, in a lighter weight fabric than jeans or khakis.)

Something more like this (but not black) would also look great, and give the swishiness of a skirt without the discomfort factor:

I'd stay away from anything with a print (ie. the tiger shirt) but a top like this in the blue would look nicely dressy:

Count me in with the either navy slacks or not-black top for the cruise-skirt crowds.

I suspect that, in your shoes, I would wear something I liked, and if anyone pressured me, point out that I wore pants to my own wedding (and not mention that this wasn't just my own style, it was New York City in February). [Telling people like that "this is as femme as I get" would probably be a bad idea, as well as not quite true; I wore a dress for papersky's wedding, though she didn't ask me to: I just happened to find something shiny and appealing.)

I did actually get a wedding dress for the wedding. Just not for getting married in.

(We went to the Justice of the Peace in Pennsylvania, where we were living, and then did the party thing in Texas, where we grew up.)

I considered wearing pants to my own wedding, but decided against it because it was May and leather pants are hot (plus they need to be broken in...)

(Deleted comment)
Yeah, I was also thinking, "loose-fitting pant suit," would fit the bill. That looks like about what I was envisioning.

I voted "suck it up" but only because I'm always forced to wear clothes I don't want to wear when we go to weddings, so I meanly figure everyone else should suffer too. *glares at eeyore_grrl*

i was thinking maybe the wide legged, looks like a dress type of pants


sort of meets in the middle

Too much cope = no skirt. Period. (Other cons - velvety material plus summer equals even less comfort. Avoid.)
What you need is skorts that look nice enough, and a nice shirt. Or dressy pants, but I think there are comments that cover this already in here.
I will help you shop, if you like. I even have the time to do so. And I did the "find a dress suitable for a summer wedding" shopping thing with Alex's mom last year and survived - maybe the luck will rub off!
Also: not in the wedding party? You don't need to coordinate. You just have to not clash. This is one rule I actually know.

Is it totally terrible that my first thought was that you could wear red and white stripes so that you could sidle up to the bridemaids in photos and they'd only notice later how much the result looked like a patriotic flag ensemble?

I've been pretty shocked at going to weddings where the music has been played so loud that you can't possibly have a comfortable conversation. I've often taken to just leaving the room and going for a walk around the property. It's been my experience that at any "standard" sized weddings (i.e. anything not thought of as small or intimate), nobody processes whether you're there or not, especially if you show up and be seen once in a blue moon. The last really loud wedding I was at was outdoors under a tend, so four of us just wandered a little way away into the park and found somewhere there to sit down and enjoy our conversation. Nobody minded, and probably few people if any even noticed, even though we were in view.

Heh. Neither red nor white is a great color on me, so while that is an amusing thought it is not too practical.

Being in a skirt (or a dress) uses cope for me too. When I was about 12 or 13 I went to a cousin's wedding and my mom had some dress for me, and I tried it on and burst into tears, so my mom let me wear pants. (Aside: She thought I was unhappy because the dress made me look fat, but nope, it was just the dress, period.) If anyone was upset that I wore pants, no one told me.

What does andres_s_p_b think you should wear? Or let me put it another way: would his relationship with his brother be damaged if you dressed "inappropriately"? how about your relationship with his brother? (frankly if the bride's family is distressed by your wearing something other than a navy blue dress, then I doubt they are people you're going to want to socialize with much, so maybe it doesn't especially matter what they think about your wedding outfit).

If it were me, and the answers to the above questions were "yes," then I would try harder to fit in visually. (Even if it meant I had to leave early, since "I have to leave, I don't feel well" is more socially acceptable to some people than wearing blue jeans.) If the answers were "no," or if the answers were pointing in the direction "They care more about my being there than about what I wear," I would wear whatever I felt most comfortable in.

If none of the above thinking works for you, then the best compromise is probably a navy blue pants suit with some silk, rayon, or linen in the fabric.

Also may I just insert a complaint here about the fact that so many people expect a person to dress to match their genitalia, rather than what they actually feel comfortable in?

navy blue pants suit

Yeah, this seems like kind of the consensus good idea.

with some silk, rayon, or linen in the fabric

Ooh, specifics. I like specifics.

Andres does not care. (I'm not sure he believes other people have opinions. He certainly doesn't put any weight on them.) I don't really have a relationship with his brother to damage; he seems nice enough, but the furthest extent of our interaction is having had dinner at his parents' when we all still lived in Austin -- which was quite a while ago now.

I do not know what will distress the bride's family, because all I know about any of them is the bride's name. Oh, and there was a picture of her in the announcement. This is the source of a substantial quantity of the flailing, really -- if I knew that they would be terribly offended by pants, then I could go ahead and offend them because they deserve it! Or if I knew they absolutely didn't care and there would be a bunch of weirdly-dressed people anyway, I could quit fussing and wear my tiger shirt. Or if I knew that they were wonderfully nice people who would make me feel entirely comfortable and play only music I like and would slightly prefer I match, then I'd probably go ahead and buy a dress because I wouldn't need the cope (see also, my sibling's wedding).

But I don't know, so making a sort of vague appeasing blending-in kind of gesture while retaining as much cope as possible in case I need it seems like a good plan.

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