What’s the dress code?

A commonly asked question, no matter what kind of event. The answer is usually simple:

Dress how you’d want to represent yourself.

By asking, “What is everyone else going to wear? What is acceptable?” think of the position you’re placing yourself in. Are you wanting to see if you’re most comfortable shoes, the ones that have taken you across continents and through cities, would be appropriate? Did you want to sport your oldest, most worn (most comfortable!) jeans to a meet a group of strangers? Were you really considering renting a tuxedo or digging that gown out of the closet?

Are you worried you’ll stand out? Or are you hoping to sneak by? Are you afraid of looking “too nice” and separating yourself from the crowd in that way?

As much as our teen selves and our inner rebels hate to admit, what we wear and the way we wear it communicates bits of our personality and what we stand for. Our clothes and our appearance is the easiest way a stranger can assesses us, and it is often the first thing we’re judged by when we first make contact.

Recently, I attended an event where I watched a couple who went “all out” — yes, complete with costumes — easily start conversations and move with ease around the room. Their dress served as a flag, signaling to other guests that they were ready to meet and mingle and share ideas. It worked.

So really, does it matter what the dress code is? Instead, think about:

How do I want to represent myself in this situation?

What would make me feel most confident when I enter? When I’m introduced?

Do I want to fit in?

Or do I want to stand out?