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I'm invited to a semi-formal award dinner for work. I know what I'm wearing but I would like to know what my husband should wear, normally he wears jeans & t-shirt. Is a suit & tie required? Can he wear dress pants and dress shirt? We will need to purchase something, but don't want to spend a lot, because he will probably hardly ever wear it, unless he goes to a wedding or god forbid a funeral. Thanks for your help.

Suits and ties are the standard for men when semi-formal attire is requested. However, a somewhat less casual ensemble is sometimes appropriate, that is if it includes a dark sport coat (tailored jacket), dress trousers, a dress shirt, a silk tie, and dark dress shoes. At the very minimum, he should wear dark dress pants and a dress shirt with a silk tie. The tie is a non-negotiable essential for semi-formal wear. But I highly recommend a tailored jacket as well, especially since this is a work-related event for you. Like it or not, the appropriateness of your spouse’s attire could affect your workplace reputation and image.

Since your husband does not normally dress up, I recommend that you shop for this outfit in a “Re-Sale” shop. Superb bargains on barely worn garments, including suits, sport coats, ties, etc. are often found in the better resale stores. At times, department stores offer special sales, significantly reduced prices, but timing may be an issue there.

If you can make the investment, the most practical purchase is a dark suit in a solid color, such as navy or black. With this, he can wear the suit jacket as a separate sport coat, and the suit pants as separate trousers, which gives him greater outfit options. Also, a dark suit can go to a black-tie optional event whereas a sport coat outfit is not dressy enough. The suit can also take him to a wedding and a funeral.

Funerals are not something we like to contemplate or anticipate, but they are a part of life. My closet survey has a “funeral-appropriate” outfit on the checklist, as savvy wardrobe planning allows for that possibility or unexpected need. Ideally, men and women alike have such an outfit already hanging in their closet as there is nothing sadder than being forced to buy clothing that fits when grieving or under such pressure.

Even today’s business environment has shifted to a bit more formal look than in the past few years. Considering that, it’s a prudent plan to purchase a dark suit or at least a dark tailored jacket for your husband.

Good luck to you,
Sherry Maysonave


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