People have absolutely no idea as to what is appropriate attire.
From the horrifyingly obnoxious clacking of heels on the Art Institute floor to the hideously unfortunate drenching of formal dresses at the Crown Fountain in Millennium Park, it seemed like everyone around me was oblivious to the fact that what they were wearing was completely inappropriate.
Not everyone reading this is a museum-goer or even a Chicago-goer for that matter, but no matter where you go in life, a certain level of appropriate dress is necessary, and there are a few things anyone can do to avoid an uncomfortable situation.
1. Ask around.
If you know someone who has been to the particular venue you will be visiting, ask what they wore and if they thought it was a good choice.
This can cover a variety of occasions - if you're going to a concert, ask someone who has seen that artist before about how people dressed at the event. If you're going to a park, ask what attractions are there and what to expect so you can determine what to wear. If you're going to a wedding, ask other guests what they're wearing so you'll fit in.
If you don't know anyone who has been/is going where you will be, most venues have websites that can help you determine what would be suitable. If you still have no luck, chances are someone else was once in the same bind as you, and a "what do I wear to..." Google search can be very beneficial.
If you still have no luck, it's usually best to just
2. Use your good sense.
The fashion faux pas I ran into last week seemed entirely obvious to me, but apparently they weren't to others.
If you're going to an art museum, jeans are acceptable as long as the rest of your outfit looks put together - dressing nice and presentable is the most important thing. Looking like you just rolled out of bed is not ideal, nor is dressing SO nice that you end up in a short, tight skirt that you can't bend over in or sky-high heels that you can't walk in. (I would think that wouldn't need mentioned, but after watching a girl nearly fall down a marble staircase because of her Christian Louboutins, I figure it's worth noting.)
At a kid-friendly museum, comfort is clearly key. Wear jeans! Wear sneakers! Make sure you can chase the children around with ease; the last thing you want is to be struggling with the cut of your top, the rise of your pants, or the comfort of your shoes. And unless you're the type that wears shorts under your dresses, leave the skirts at home.
Where there is water, for heaven's sake bring a towel. There are usually areas where you can dry off, or if you're REALLY wet, change clothes (which does, of course, involve you BRINGING an extra outfit.)
No matter where you're going, it's as simple as taking all events into consideration, which includes
3. Considering others around you.
The last thing I wanted to hear at the Art Institute was every move of the gal in her clompy wedges fifty paces across the gallery. Art museums are echo-y places, and it's only courteous to wear flat shoes that don't make a lot of noise when you walk. The same went for Crown Fountain; I had no desire to see all the white t-shirts that had soaked through.
Thinking through an item of clothing and the consequences that could occur when wearing it to a particular place is imperative. You wouldn't wear a two hundred dollar cashmere sweater to watch babies because it would get covered in spit-up. You wouldn't wear a low-cut top with an open back to the office because you would be, at the least, objectified, at the worst, fired. You wouldn't wear a dress to the gym...I don't think I have to explain why.
Simply take the same principles you use to get dressed for the everyday situations and apply them to the special occasions and fun weekend getaways in life.
The people around you will thank you.
- Jordan -
- 8-25-12 -