How to Avoid a Fashion Fumble at Your Next Dinner Party
I grew up in a town where fashion was tied to your identity and materialism was celebrated.
I was made to believe that wearing a different outfit every day was socially prized, and without it, I would be forgotten. My style wasn’t outwardly unique. Instead, I bought the finest clothes with designer price tags and felt the name was enough.
I relied on my friends to tell me what was trending. I was under the spell of fast fashion, in the vortex of never having enough.
It wasn’t until years later, moving from my hometown, that I rebelled against this notion. I went in the opposite direction and embraced minimalism. Gone were the days when I stood for hours in front of my closet wondering what to wear. I would buy and wear greyscale. This was my ticket to simplicity, where I saved both time and money.
It didn’t take long for my itch for color, texture, and creativity to resurface, although I didn’t know how to break the minimal curse. I would buy small pops of color here and there, but I felt like I was floating in a never-ending sea of black. After years of society telling me how to dress, I was dying to express myself without the know-how.
At the time, I was curating high-end dinner parties. On one particular occasion, we served an elaborate meal in a nearby castle. I only knew half of the guest list. As people arrived, I realized this was the place to dress up. Amidst the sea of gowns, pleated skirts, and silk was Florence Muller, dressed in a gorgeous emerald Valentino dress, worn with style and grace.
At a dinner party where everyone started as strangers, I watched the volume rise all from Florence’s dress. Her style was not just something to swoon over, but a spark of connection. Florence has published over 30 books on the history of fashion, curated fashion exhibits all around the world, and is currently the Art and Fashion Curator for Dior, Saint Laurent, and more. As someone with such worldly experiences, I always thought her style was unattainable for the everyday person like me.
That was until she kindly assessed my wardrobe. Florence rifled through all my black and dug out the pops of color. In under an hour, she demystified the fuzzy concept of fashion. I realized her process was similar to mine with food. It was playful, free, and creative. I thought I had to study fashion for years to dress this way. I was shocked to find there was no rulebook. Florence granted the permission to risk and find authenticity with style.
Florence is known to put on magnificent dinner parties herself. I was curious if she had a set of rules or a toolkit on how to dress for these occasions. I anticipated she would suggest wearing certain colors or styles. Instead, she shared a simple tip:
“If you are the host, wear something that you are confident and comfortable in. The most important aspect is that your dress is not too tight. You need to be able to breathe under the pressure of cooking and serving. If you are the guest, this is the time to dress up and have fun.”
Fashion is the ultimate conversation starter. You can say a lot with the designer, pattern, or vintage you wear, yet it’s not about trends or what you should be wearing. It’s about your self-expression.
Fashion is like any other art form, it’s about tapping into intuition and play. That’s when color, texture, and silhouette come to life. At the end of the day, what you wear is just a catalyst for connection.
Next time you go to a dinner party, try dressing with play and see what conversations come up.