“What the f*ck does “Traditional Black Tie” even mean?” I whispered to myself, frustrated, as I entered the fifth store of the day looking for a dress to wear to this damn dinner party.
When I got invited to a formal dinner party, I said yes. Who wouldn’t? Then I found out it was a private, fancy dinner party with a bunch of friends of my friend. The kind that Americans don’t really have. You see, we order pizza and sit on the floor in our PJ’s. In fact, the fanciest dinner party I have ever been to involved smashing my friend’s face in her birthday cake. So, you must be wondering how I got here.
The British. Incredibly deceiving in a way that Americans just aren’t. I say “a fancy dinner party” and it means a nice evening with friends at the Cheesecake Factory. They say “a dinner” and it means a floor length gown and a four course meal. It’s rude, frankly. Because then I find out four days before the dinner that its “traditional black tie”, which to me means jack. So of course I Google it and realize I have three days to find a floor length dress that won’t cost me an arm and a leg. Uh-huh.
Luckily for me (and my dramatics), I have actually managed to make friends here. After shopping for five hours and finding absolutely nothing and hating life, one of them informed me she has next day shipping on ASOS I could use. I almost cried. Okay, I did cry. I ordered two dresses, just in case obviously, and the day was saved. Incredibly enough, one of the dresses fit (shocking for someone who has never shopped British sizing before).
Did you know the British say grace in Latin at all formal dinners? It freaked me out the first time, but it’s grown on me.
The actual dinner was incredibly nice. I was nervous and extremely sweaty by the time we showed up. I quickly learned that the proper way to greet someone in England is a double kiss on the cheek, which is so weird. Why are people invading my personal space like that? The jury is still out on whether I will come to terms with this new cultural practice. I blew it the first time, but it was my friend’s best friend so I don’t think I made too bad of a first impression. My favorite part of the night was the endless wine, which quelled my overactive social anxiety and allowed me to move past the formalities I imposed on the night and recognize the dinner for what it actually was- a fun way to spend a night with some of the best people, drinking, eating, and taking the piss out of everyone. I think I really like this tradition. Plus, I made a bunch of new friends with whom I had brunch the following morning- all of us extremely hungover. The perfect end to my first fancy dinner party as a clueless American.