The challenge: Staying comfortable without descending into a hell of rumpled athletic wear that serves mainly to underscore how deeply un-athletic one, in fact, is.
The answer: Pretty much Eileen Fisher.
Yes, yes, I know. You think it’s an old lady brand specializing in muumuus and wrinkly linen shirts. You are wrong! In recent years the brand has grown to embrace all sizes, including all you adorable little petites with your XXXS derrieres, and offers clean, architecturally inspired shapes in natural materials, many of them organic.
Social events in the Napa Valley are a blast whether you’re invited to a private tasting or big bash winery party. But deciding what to wear can be a bit of a chore, especially when you get an invite with the ubiquitous yet impenetrable “Napa casual” or “Napa chic.”
Basically, Napa Casual, Napa Chic, Dressy Casual and Cocktail Attire mean you can wear pretty much whatever you like short of mud-stained jeans or a ballgown. (Although I have seen both of those at Napa Valley events.) For men, it’s time to pull out the chinos-polo-shirt combination that never fails and ladies can rely on nice dresses or pants with an interesting top (but be sure to add a shawl or jacket because wine country evenings can be quite chilly.)
For a tongue-in-cheek look at the perils of cracking the wine country dress code, I put a few questions to a man who has saved me from a few sartorial stumbles. Let’s call him the Wine Country Wardrobe Adviser.
Q. What is dressy casual?
WCWA: The result of someone who can’t make up their mind what to specify. Is it dressy or is it casual? Ultimately, it means there will be some finicky b*tch who will say, “Well, what was SHE thinking?” … and it will probably be me.
Q: What is Napa casual?
WCWA: See above. Also any “casual” designation in Napa Valley means you better know to wear flats because anything more than that will sink deep into damp golfing turf (leaving you with little turned up toes and a snapped Achilles) or powdery dry vineyard soil. Keep the latter particularly in mind when considering open toes … and French pedicures.
Q. Why is it that no matter what the dress code it always translates to “untucked Tommy Bahamas shirt” for men?
WCWA. Because men get a pass.
Q. What is the one outfit that will get you through just about any wine country occasion?
WCWA. Crisply ironed blue jeans, a white shirt and a blue blazer … men or women.
There you have it, partygoers. See you on the social circuit!
What should you wear when you’re going to get out in the vineyard to observe the nitty gritty, emphasis on gritty, of grapegrowing?
Here’s a hint. Don’t follow the example of a group I encountered recently who showed up for a vineyard tour wearing sleeveless tops and flip-flops _ and here’s a bulletin folks; toes are not pretty _ not to mention one ill-advised pair of 3-inch platforms. Stumbling and shivering ensued followed by the kind of whines you don’t find in a tasting room. Continue reading “What not to wear, vineyard version”