My company is having a boat party and I don't know what to wear
July 12, 2010 11:15 AM   Subscribe

Company boat party in NYC. What should I wear?

The company I work for is celebrating its 10th anniversary next month with a boat party in New York. I have never been to a boat party in New York. Or anywhere.

Some details to help you help me decide what to wear:
- The company as a whole is and extremely informal, young, and creative place. As in: sneakers-jeans-tshirts, tattoos, lounges and ping-pong table in the middle of the office.
- I'm a woman, mid-thirties
- The boat party starts around 7pm, meaning there will be daylight for about the first hour and a half of it.

I think I should wear anything as informal as jeans and sneakers, and I'm not totally sure about this but I guess heels and glamour wouldn't fit either. So where in between those should I be?

I'm a little shy about asking co-workers because I'm brand new to the company and don't anyone well. I suppose I could do it, but I'd appreciate your input anyway.
posted by Opal to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (14 answers total)
I would probably wear a cotton sundress and strappy sandals.
posted by millipede at 11:22 AM on July 12, 2010 [2 favorites]

I would go ahead and ask. People won't be offended, especially if it's as creative and informal as you say. No one will think worse of you.

Barring that, I would wear black or grey slacks, dressier ballet flats (or low heels), and a nice but not glitzy blouse with some understated accessories.
posted by Phire at 11:23 AM on July 12, 2010

From your question I'm assuming you don't currently live in New York City.

If I were going to this party (I'm a Brooklynite, also working in a relatively hip and informal field), I would wear a cute summer dress with relatively casual but still fun shoes/accessories. Maybe my red ballet flats, a fun belt if the dress is conducive to belts? Or, if the weather were cooler, "nice" jeans and a fun top, with either sneakers, sandals, or a nice-ish shoe like a ballet flat. Depending on the formality of the top - with a funky t-shirt I'd go with a nicer shoe, with a blouse probably sneakers or casual sandals. Maybe some sort of fun accessory if I thought that ended up looking too bland? Vintage is always good. Black is always good.

Last time I had to go to a relatively swank work party (but, again, casual creative field), I wore a slightly more casual take on the LBD with fun shoes and an armful of silver bangles.

People tend to dress slightly more formally here than other parts of the country. You can often get away with casual in a situation like this, but it needs to be cute casual or funky casual. Not just jeans and a t-shirt

If you are a non-New Yorker, I would avoid:

light colored jeans
athletic sneakers
birkenstocks or any other "practical" sandal
yoga pants or any other unstructured pajama/workout attire

But you probably knew all that stuff already.
posted by Sara C. at 11:26 AM on July 12, 2010

I'm also voting for the sundress.

If you want to really CYA you could go for a solid colored dress with casual shoes and a light jacket, then pack a small bag with dressier accessories. Strappy heels and costume jewelry wouldn't take up too much space in a handbag. Then if you get to the party and it turns out to be more formal than you thought you can switch shoes, add the jewelry and ditch the jacket.

Really though, don't be embarrassed to ask. Make it conversational. "Gosh, I've never been to one of these before. What are you going to wear?"
posted by TooFewShoes at 11:31 AM on July 12, 2010

Go for a fun, casual, pretty sundress, with strappy sandals or cute flats.

Depending on the weather that day, you might want to bring a light jacket in case -- it might get windy/cool out on the water and as the sun goes down.
posted by Put the kettle on at 11:47 AM on July 12, 2010

I'm going to go against the flow and recommend staying away from the sundress and heels. It is almost always windier than you would expect near the water, especially around sunset, and you don't want to be constantly worrying about a "Marilyn" moment around your new co-workers. Also, spiky heels that are great on land may be a bit riskier on a moving boat. My suggestion would be slacks with a pretty top and a coordinating cardigan/jacket to cut the wind factor. For shoes I'd go with flats or a low chunky heel for stability. Oh, and if you have long hair, you may want to pull it back to avoid having it flying about your face or going limp in the sea air.
posted by platinum at 12:58 PM on July 12, 2010

Also try asking your co-workers what they are planning to wear. Makes for an easy casual conversation since everyone will be planning for it anyway and it comes off better than asking what they think you should wear.
posted by platinum at 1:02 PM on July 12, 2010

If your company is genuinely young, hip, creative, and casual, I would absolutely not wear slacks. In any context. I work in such a field, and I own exactly one pair of slacks, which I exclusively wear to job interviews. I would never wear them to the office, let alone to a party which was supposed to be informal and fun.

Then again, I would not wear "spike heels", either, unless your "young, hip, casual, fun" company is a fashion magazine.

if you fear a "Marilyn Moment" or maybe just don't have a sundress you feel is appropriate, I'd go with nice jeans, a skirt which is more fitted to the body or in a heavier material, or maybe some casual trousers in linen or seersucker.

Pretty top and cardigan with slacks says "putting in the required appearance at a really boring party for a stuffy accounting firm". Not a fun boat party thrown by a "young, informal, creative" company. You will almost certainly feel out of place if you wear that.
posted by Sara C. at 1:16 PM on July 12, 2010

I agree with Sara C. on slacks. I lived in NYC for 9 years. I do not own slacks. I worked at a "young, hip" firm too (though our company parties were a bit fancier) and there were no slacks, anytime, anywhere.

Sandals /= spike heels, either. And a sundress on a boat is fine--if you're worried about wind, avoid a billowy one and choose something with a cut that makes it less likely to blow around.
posted by millipede at 1:21 PM on July 12, 2010

You wanna wear flats and a dress and an exciting necklace or bracelet. Ask your co-workers what they're wearing.
posted by The Whelk at 4:11 PM on July 12, 2010

About a month and a half ago, I went on a company boat party (as my boyfriend's date). His company is young and informal. We're in Toronto, which, apparently, is New York without all the stuff. Cute, casual dresses with flats/sandals were the norm, and I wish I'd brought a cardigan with me. Have fun!
posted by Rora at 4:12 PM on July 12, 2010

If I were in your shoes, I would use the outfits on pages 11, 20, 24, 26 from the most recent A.P.C. Lookbook for inspiration. (I can't link directly to the document because the page is Flash, but go here and click on the Lookbook as a pdf.) The topsiders might be too literal, but they're so common in New York right now that I would go ahead and wear them, especially if you have some that don't look brand new. Bonus: if it's in your budget, several of these pieces are currently on sale in the SoHo store and online. If it's not in your budget, you can replicate at Forever 21, H&M, Zara, etc. (I'm eyeing the blue suede desert boots on p. 42 but can't justify them.)

Also, I know that your question specifically says that you're shy about asking coworkers, but if you already have a few ideas of your own, asking coworkers about trivial things like this can be the small talk that opens the door for deeper conversations and friendships. Conversation about a skirt can lead to conversation about what you wore last weekend and where you were that can lead to a conversation about the play that you loved, and on and on and on.
posted by kevin-o at 5:13 PM on July 12, 2010 [1 favorite]

Don't forget to bring a windbreaker. There can be a lot of wind on the Hudson, and temperatures will drop more quickly on the water in the evening than in the city.
posted by b1tr0t at 7:01 PM on July 12, 2010

Nautical themed pashmina afghan?
posted by eddydamascene at 10:44 PM on July 12, 2010

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