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Formal and Informal Events

Social events and parties can pose bewildering problems for Americans and foreigners alike. You’ll have to determine how formal the party or event is, what kind of food or drink will be served (if any), whether or not a gift is expected, and, if so, what type of gift is appropriate.

Formal and Informal. For some people and in some regions, “informal” means blue jeans and T-shirts. For some others, it can mean sports jackets and ties. It pays to ask specific questions about how you should dress when someone invites you (“Do I need to wear a dress? jacket and tie? Is everyone wearing shorts? Are jeans all right?”). Even if informal clothing is in order, keep your clothes clean. Neatness counts when making first impressions on Americans. If in doubt, let others dress down, and maintain your own appearance at a higher level.

On invitations to events like weddings and receptions, the phrase “formal” (also referred to as “Black Tie”) means tuxedos for men and evening dresses for women.

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