Dress Code, Decoded

Dear Annabel Manners,

I’m supposed to go to a charity thing at the Avalon hotel. The invitation says “California Cocktail Attire.”

What does that mean and what do I wear. I am a guy.


Jamie in Westwood

Hey Jamie,

Great question! Events at the Avalon typically take place around the pool. The scene is posh and sophisticated, though certainly not formal.

Granted, we live in Los Angeles, therefore there will most likely be hipster idiots running around in jeans, hoodies, and Vans slip-ons. This is only acceptable if you’re in a band.
A good band.
To pull off California Cocktail Attire, I would advise:
1. No jeans. (But if you absolutely must, go with dark denim.)
2. Good shoes. Women notice these things.
3. The kind of shirt you send out to be dry-cleaned.
4. A blazer, if you wish. (Here’s another one that’s nice and versatile.)
5. No tie, unless you just happen to like them. (If you do wear one, skip the jacket so you don’t look overdressed.)
Depending on your budget, you can always pop in Bloomingdales, Barneys, or Banana Republic and ask a salesperson for help.
Or better yet, email me a picture of your potential outfit and I will happily advise.
Look sharp and have fun!
Graciously yours,
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