Are you really going to dress like that?

Dear Mrs. McVeigh,
I took my son to a college reception that he was invited to, by a university that he is strongly considering. I told him to wear a sports coat, button down shirt, khaki pants, and loafers. I told him to pick out a tie, and I put it in my purse just in case he was the only one without one. My husband and I were in professional attire as well. When we got there, I was surprised and appaled by how the parents and students were dressed. The majority of them were in jeans and sweatshirts. I had a similar experience with the National Honors Society induction at our High School. I told my son to dress up, but a lot of the kids were dressed “down,” including girls in sexy looking clothing. Am I being old fashioned about how to dress? Please let me know if things have changed, and I need to adjust my expectations. Thank you.

Dear Anonymous,
In both situations I would have told my sons to dress up. I share your surprise at how other students were dressed. I think that how you dress is so important. People do judge one another, and not dressing appropriately is very disrespectful. A reception, award’s ceremony, wedding or baby shower, and going out to a restaurant, all have a dress code that needs to be respected. What the message to our children should be is there is a right way to dress for every occasion, and not dressing that way is disrespectful and poor etiquette. If you want to be taken seriously in life, than dressing well sends a positive message. Always better to be dressed up than down.