Friday a good friend and fellow colleague of Husband's was honored at the annual awards banquet held at the base club. We wanted to show our support so we decided to attend. Besides, what girl doesn't like the opportunity to get dressed up once in a while?
As a spouse, and more specifically a wife, the question regarding what to wear to an event like this usually sits top of mind. When it seems the events, as well as the communication about said events, are handled mostly by the male folk, the dress code requirements can be a little hard to decipher.
For men in general semi-formal means some form of dress slacks and a button up shirt, tie and jacket left to personal preference. Formal is always some sort of suit or tux. In the Air Force, it seems any event, whether semi-formal or formal, requires the active duty person to wear their "mess dress." This uniform is supposed to be the equivalent of a tux, but I've also seen it worn to functions where sundresses or more casual cocktail dresses were suitable for the women.
So where does that leave a distressing wife when it comes to finding something that is appropriate? This is where I have coined the term "subdued formal." It's like formal, but without the prom. Unfortunately this is a very hard genre of dress to find. Especially for people my age. While searching for a dress I was met with the extremes of prom gowns bedazzled with glittering rhinestones and made up in bold, bright colors, and more traditional mother-of-the-bride type gowns that were just too mature for me. That or the ideal dresses I loved were just too far out of my price range. Apparently subdued formal is a designer level term :P I needed something that was long, but not matronly, and stylish, but not so jazzy as to spark looks or unwanted judgement. As an extension of my husband I wanted to ensure I was making the right impressions.
In a stroke of luck, after searching for hours on end through every formalwear store, department store, and even the likes of Charlotte Russe when I became desperate, I happened to stop by a Dillard's clearance store. And at this stop I hit the jackpot. I ended up buying three different dresses. The merchandise storewide was already on deep clearance, and that day they were having an additional 70% off sale. I was able to nab three beautiful gowns (one that started with a $360 price tag) for a grand total of $75. The dress I ended up wearing only cost me $11. I could hardly believe my luck!
And you may ask why I felt the need to purchase three gowns when I only needed one. These types of events are not very frequent in occurrence, but in the year that Husband has been in the Air Force, I have attended three such events, and missed a fourth one when I was out of town. Each time has left me frantically searching for something to wear, or trying to make old dresses (that were purchased in high school for the most part) work. After finding such a great deal, mom and I determined it was smart to just buy them to have so I wouldn't be left searching again when the next event rolls around.
These events can involve a number of different activities. The Dining Out dinner we attended during Husband's COT graduation was filled with funny rules and long-standing almost fraternity-like practices. This awards banquet was less exuberant and consisted of a presentation of the colors and flags, the national anthem, an introduction of the nominees, dinner, a guest speaker (who was just wonderful!), and finally the announcement of the winners.
It was a nice night, and a great reminder of how many truly remarkable people serve at our base. I couldn't believe some of their accomplishments. It's easy to forget the work that is done mere feet away from our home, but being at these events helps you to remember the reason why you are where you are, and it makes you proud to be a part of something so great.
Not to mention, the blue of Husband's mess dress brings out the blue in his eyes, and I'll dress up anytime to see that ;)