The “glitterati” — the most stylish people in any given section of society — originated in the fashion industry as a mixture of glitter and “literati.”
Yale is no different from the rest of the world. We definitely have glitterati, but being a member of this chosen group is a lot easier at Yale than it is in Milan or Paris. The only thing one has to do to win a coveted spot is dress appropriately.
To many of us, “dress appropriately” is common sense like “never, ever wear white socks with black casual shoes.” But, to many Yalies, it seems to be one of the most difficult rules to follow.
Well, how do we dress appropriately? Different events and social gatherings at Yale definitely require different styles of dress. There’s no way you would wear what you wore the night before to Exotic Erotic to a meeting with your dean — well, most people wouldn’t. So, here let’s tackle several Yale events and decide what it means to dress for the occasion. Read and learn.
The events most Yalies attend in ill attire are those that require formal dressing. At the height of 20th-century fashion, formal meant men had to look like a Whiffenpoof (i.e. white gloves, white tie and tails). Semi-formal was our traditional tuxedo with black tie, and casual meant you just wore a suit or some sort of blazer.
For ladies, formality really referred to how elaborate or expensive the dress was. All fashions for women were pretty concealing and rather uncomfortable.
Now everything has changed. The semi-formal is our formal. So, for events like Winter Ball, Greek formals, and some screws and birthday parties, we need to be dressed according to fashion’s rules of semi-formality. Men, you should come off it and just buy a tuxedo. Your dates or girlfriends are going to get really tired of wearing $300 dresses next to you wearing a $90 bargain basement suit that you bought when you got your first job.
To an event like Winter Ball, you will want to wear an overcoat also — preferably cashmere or a blend thereof. Your shoes should be properly shined to mimic the sheen of your satin lapel. And, contrary to popular opinion, there is not now, nor will there ever be, a “new black.” Your tux should be black and very classic (none of this stud-collar mess you did in high school). As modern as you need be is to have a three-button tux.
Ladies, you tend to do a good job, but please remember certain cardinal rules. Your hair should be done in a manner that accentuates your neck. Your outfit should also do this, because your neckline is often considered to be one of your most elegant features. Accentuating it will lend the most sophistication to your outfit. It is often inappropriate to accentuate other features. That $300 dress looks as good as your date’s $90 suit when your breasts are hanging out of it.
Never wear stockings with open-toed shoes — I don’t care how cold it gets in New Haven. Also, don’t go to formal events looking like you just left Toad’s Place. Leave your leather accessories and midriffs at home and go for something that sparkles a little. This will draw the attention to you and take it away from your partner, who is likely to have ignored this entire article and be wearing his practice shoes with his new tux.
The next set of events that Yalies may attend would require that you dress semi-formally. Of course, given our recent shift in fashion definitions, this means you would be conforming to the casual appearance of yore. This applies to events like job interviews, some Master’s Teas, a dinner at Mory’s, and crush parties.
Fellas, pull out the suit you bought in high school. You can totally use it here, provided that it still fits. A few modifications may be needed, however. Especially for the job interview, you’re going to want to make sure your suit is tailored particularly for you. Many a high schooler buys the off-the-rack suit and just walks out looking like he’d wear the world’s most beautiful grocery sack. Any adult male — who, stereotypically, would be interviewing you — is going to notice your lack of sartorial knowledge. And you’re going to want to avoid advertising your character flaws at a job interview.
For other events, it is less noticeable because you’ll be less scrutinized and in large groups of people. The basic rules to remember in those cases are to wear dark suits and a sensible tie. Light-colored suits can only be worn during the summer or on particularly warm spring days. And your tie should not have any recognizable animation on it.
Ladies, thanks to the ’80s, your fashion in this arena becomes quite similar to that of a man. Although the power suit fell flat on its face, the female suit remains a staple of semi-formal attire. It is a little more adult and is better for job interviews than for crush parties, but you can sauce it up and make a true glitterati splash at a party. The next chance you get, wear a slim-fitting pinstriped suit (with pants). Under it, wear a white blouse, unbuttoned as far down as is socially acceptable, with the collar out. For accessories, wear a pair of rather high-heeled, black shoes and an elegant-colored stone necklace. Let me know how your night goes.
That’s about it. We all know our personal styles for casual dressing. Just making sure your clothing fits and is reasonably color-coordinated can suffice in that area. It’s not difficult to be stylish. You simply have to look like you put a little effort into your appearance. This — done at the right time, in the right place, and often in moderation — is what characterizes a stylish person.