Dictionary.com defines the word ‘casual’ as “Happening by chance, informal”. And that’s what I thought it meant too, until we moved to LA, when soon after our arrival, we were invited to a garden party.
“It’ll be just a few friends…very casual.” We were told.
Clearly we didn’t all get the same memo. I am here to tell you that it is not a good feeling to turn up to something looking like you’re through to the final episode of ‘Survivor’ and find yourself on what appears to be the set of ‘The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills’. In these situations alcoholic beverages are important.
Exactly how ‘casual’ are uniformed maids, waiters, hired bands and enough ice sculptures to deplete Alaska? How ‘casual’ is a Cartier man’s watch, eight carat diamond ring and a Shih Tzu in a personalized Gucci tote?
“What do these people wear on formal occasions?” I wondered.
When the next invitation came in I didn’t know where to begin. I took wise counsel from girlfriends. “Anything goes.” They told me. “It’s all about individual style.”
Well, if we’re honest it’s not, is it? If we were Vivienne Westwood or Lady Gaga, then I’d agree. But consciously or not, most of us wear a kind of ‘uniform’ and throw out social signals in the way we dress. I like to blend. In New York I’m all black, in France it’s a navy blazer, in London a trench coat.
But how do you blend in a blonde society? How do you blend in ninety degrees of heat when your hippy days are long behind you? How do you blend when everyone (for a variety of reasons), looks thirty years younger than you do?
How do you do ‘California Casual’? I’m still working on it.