Fashion SOS: Boyfriend Family Turkey Meeting
November 23, 2022 10:34 PM   Subscribe

What would you wear to meet your boyfriend's family on Thanksgiving, presuming you're 41 years old and have not had many "typical" family gatherings in your life? What is your best suggestion of what might be appropriate? Please help me, I have been throwing clothes in piles for 90 minutes and this is very important to me because it's a big deal for us both. Thank you hive mind!
posted by fairlynearlyready to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (26 answers total)
Best answer: I am the first to admit I am not fashionable, or fashion-knowledgable, but my advice is to wear something nice that you would normally wear to the office or maybe to church, but not anything "fancy" like you would wear to a gala or some great party. I think the important part is to be authentically _you_ in your personality and interactions, more so than what you wear.
posted by TimHare at 10:39 PM on November 23 [4 favorites]

Best answer: Where is Thanksgiving what is the weather like? What is your clothing preference? I like tights, boots, and slouchy oversized dresses for food centred holidays, but I skew fem, and in a temperate climate. I do nice accessories, like earrings and boots or heels, but I'm not wearing constructive clothing.
posted by kellyblah at 10:42 PM on November 23 [2 favorites]

Ask your boyfriend if you can see some photos of previous thanksgivings so you can get an idea of how the family dresses and then match the level of dressiness/casualness with your existing style. Essentially the same thing you do if you are going to a club or nice restaurant: scope out the photos and dress to match the culture so you don't end up under or overdressed.

You could also ask him how his family usually dresses, but I suspect he hasn't really consciously registered it before.
posted by forbiddencabinet at 10:43 PM on November 23 [16 favorites]

I generally don’t think of Thanksgiving as being that formal. Your boyfriend should know his family but given that overeating is pretty likely to happen I’d wear something comfortable like yoga pants with a nice sweater or tunic on top. The slouchy oversized dress idea sounds good too- but just make sure you’ll be comfortable eating a large meal - that’s a given on Thanksgiving!
posted by morchella at 10:49 PM on November 23 [3 favorites]

In my experience, Thanksgiving isn’t very formal so I think black sweater, jeans or comfortable dress pants and maybe a necklace or earrings would suffice. What is your boyfriend going to wear? What will make you feel good to wear?
posted by kat518 at 10:57 PM on November 23 [2 favorites]

I would stay away from anything very tight or very low cut, since some conservative types take umbrage at this.
posted by chariot pulled by cassowaries at 11:08 PM on November 23 [1 favorite]

I’d rather be a tiny bit overdressed versus underdressed. If you are a person who wears skirts or dresses, go for one that’s casual.
posted by bluedaisy at 11:22 PM on November 23 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Dress as if you’re meeting a work colleague for lunch on a weekend. (ie, relaxed because you’re on friendly terms but put together enough to meet someone from work)

Bottoms and shoes: will mainly be hidden by the table. Choose something you can sit comfortably in for 90 mins. I’d narrow it down between a comfy pair of jeans and dark colored bottoms. Wear socks in case you have to take your shoes off.

Top: layer so you have options. A cardigan and a short sleeve top underneath if you get hot. Not the cardigan type? A sweater will work too, just have a neutral shirt underneath.

but the real answer here is : dress so your body feels good. Wear an outfit you like. You trusted yourself enough to buy it, it’s ok to wear it. This isn’t the first and only time they’ll meet you and your clothes do not define who you are. Hope it’s a fun meeting.
posted by Pretty Good Talker at 11:51 PM on November 23 [6 favorites]

Best answer: Whatever you pick will be great. Your boyfriend's family will be delighted to have you there.
posted by aniola at 12:13 AM on November 24 [9 favorites]

Best answer: A nice blouse or thin sweater, nice pants or skirt depending on the weather, some kind of ornament (necklace, earrings, ring, scarf), decent hair.

and depending on your/their culture and/or your comfort with the possibility of having to be shoeless if they’re into that and you’re not, “inside” shoes (some people I know bring them in a bag! Simple flats would be easiest to wield. I usually can’t go without supportive footwear for any amount of time and have worn my ugly slippers, always embarrassing but have had no choice, people have been nice about it). If you have no need or preference on this, ask your boyfriend what they do shoewise.
posted by cotton dress sock at 1:12 AM on November 24 [2 favorites]

If I'm going to a holiday in an unfamiliar home, I tend to go smart casual.

A long tunic/sweater dress/t shirt/wrap dress in a drapey material, leggings or tights, nice socks, ankle boots. Then some good sparkly stud earrings and maybe a bracelet.

This way you look suitable if it's a more formal gathering. But you're also comfortable if it's one of those Thanksgivings where everyone is stretched out on couches, shoes off, playing board games and watching movies after the meal.

(My now-husband told me his family dresses up for holidays, I donned a blouse, silk skirt, stockings and heels, then I had to abandon shoes at the door and i pretzeled myself into all sorts of odd positions to be "comfortable" as everyone flopped on couches.)
posted by champers at 3:00 AM on November 24

ask him to show you photos of previous Thanksgivings and then wear something similar to the other women in the family

there is no universally appropriate Thanksgiving attire, it varies wildly from family to family
posted by Jacqueline at 3:54 AM on November 24 [6 favorites]

nthing others that if you don’t know what his family wears, the best options are either
- a wintery/sweater dress with tights or
- a nice/dressy sweater with slacks (I wouldn’t do jeans personally unless they don’t look it? Some people are still weird about jeans)
The first time I went to my now-husband’s for Thanksgiving I wore a work dress (something I’d wear to like a job interview or client meeting) with a nice soft cardigan, but that was in a warm-ish climate.
posted by goodbyewaffles at 4:32 AM on November 24

Best answer: I got advice from the EIC of Elle Canada at the time that if you're unsure, make your best guess for the level of dress, i.e. 'smart casual' or 'formal' and then actually one level down but with really classic pieces. People usually feel less comfortable overdressed (and others notice more) than if they are slightly underdressed but in very traditional pieces.

So my pick for you would be a classic wrap dress + tights + ankle boots + necklace-type thing if you think people dress up, or if you think they might dress down or you're unsure, a pair of nice jeans with ankle boots and a plain white or black t-shirt with a cardigan or maybe a loose blazer if you have one, like that.

In both cases, nice but again classic hair and makeup goes a long way at dinner tables.

I am sure they will be glad to have you no matter what!
posted by warriorqueen at 5:30 AM on November 24 [3 favorites]

Oh and if you don't have a wrap dress a sheath dress is great too.
posted by warriorqueen at 5:31 AM on November 24

I wouldn’t wear jeans. I would go for nice pants and a nice shirt/cardigan. Pants over jeans will slightly elevate the outfit but not so much that you’re super dressy.
posted by studioaudience at 5:43 AM on November 24 [4 favorites]

Counterpoint: I would 100% wear "nice" jeans in a situation like this, but it's possible my family is more casual than others. I would wear a nice top and/or sweater rather than, say, a t-shirt and hoodie, and might dress it up with some jewelry and makeup. But you couldn't pay me to wear dress slacks to Thanksgiving (leggings and a casual jersey dress or similar would be ok).
posted by misskaz at 6:41 AM on November 24 [1 favorite]

Best answer: In this completely unknown situation, I would wear one of these two sets.

(a) My very dark black jeans (not tight!), or maybe tweedy work pants, with a cashmere-look cowl neck sweater. If I knew bf's family were wealthy I might go invest in a proper cashmere, but not otherwise. Shoes: ankle boots or loafer type things, or maaaayybe my "fancy tennies".

(b) Same pants, a crew necked shell or T of some sort, and a swingy long jersey or knit cardigan along the lines of the outfit shown here.

You'll get bonus points with relatives for Thanksgiving-y colors. Wear a smile and they won't notice your clothes unless you commit some faux pas like cleavage, too tight, too short, too high heels, leather/studs, see through, garish colors, sparkles, glitter, jingle bell necklace, etc.

Maybe bring a "fancy(ier)" scarf or accessory in the car in case you get there and feel underdressed. Or start off wearing it, and remove if you feel overdressed.
posted by bluesky78987 at 6:43 AM on November 24 [1 favorite]

Best answer: For my family, Thanksgiving is an all afternoon to evening festive casual affair. People start coming by and hanging out around 2 or 3, there’s tv watching and lots of food prep and sometimes playing games in the yard if the weather is nice, lots of platters of snack foods for nibbling, for a few hours. Near around 6 the turkey comes out of the oven and at that point all guests will have arrived, with less intimate guests showing up closer to dinner. Chats while the turkey rests and those of us cooking plate everything up, then dinner, then a break followed by copious pies.

If I invited a girlfriend to Thanksgiving it would indeed be a big deal, but I would tell her to wear something comfortable since she will probably be on her feet or socializing all afternoon and then stuffed with food in the evening. Something that can get messy but also looks a little celebratory. Some examples of that would be like, jogger pants in a nicer fabric (elastic waistband but fashion!) with a brightly colored cardigan and simple top underneath and clean sneakers, or leggings with a brightly patterned tunic and simple flats, or a sleeved wrap dress and cute boots. Accessories totally depend on your personal style, you don’t have to have any if they aren’t your thing, but just one piece of jewelry feels special but doesn’t feel over the top for a casual holiday, like a sparkly pendant necklace or a cuff bracelet or a silky scarf. We tend to be shoes off folks but with guests leniency is welcome, so comfortable socks would be a good idea but not mandatory.

Definitely ask your partner about: how long the festivities will be, if their house is a shoes on or shoes off place, if there will be non-eating activities, if you will be expected to help with any food prep or cleanup, if your hostess gift is edible will it be welcome or should you stick to flowers instead, who the other guests will be. These can all give you clues about what to expect and make the day go smoother.

I think your best attempt at put-together, but not formal, is a good bet. No glittering gowns, but a fancy top and trousers all the way through to a solid colored tshirt and a patterned maxi skirt will probably be fine. Aim for something that you’re comfortable in - don’t dress like you’re someone you’re not.
posted by Mizu at 7:30 AM on November 24

My family will literally be in leggings and pajama pants all day and would absolutely be surprised if you dressed up but wouldn't like, roast you for it. I will n-th "do you have some pictures from previous thanksgivings that I can scope out"?
posted by joycehealy at 7:36 AM on November 24 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Since I’m not familiar with the norms of that household, I will say your comfort is a MUST if you want to make a good impression. You should look and feel like you.

Nothing you have to tug on, nothing that cuts into you uncomfortably and doesn’t quite fit, don’t wear the grey office slacks that make your butt look weird just because they’re dressier than jeans, don’t wear orange because it’s festive if it washes you out, if you’re a mall goth type or boho floral dress-wearer normally, don’t pretend to be preppy, etc—you get the idea.

A sweater in good condition in a color that makes your skin and eyes look their best will never ever go amiss IMO.
posted by kapers at 11:29 AM on November 24 [1 favorite]

Business casual, unless the family is particularly formal or hoodie-casual.
posted by rhizome at 2:02 PM on November 24

So, what did you wear?
posted by NotLost at 8:44 PM on November 24 [5 favorites]

Response by poster: Oh my goodness this was so helpful mainly because everyone in the thread was so supportive! I ended up wearing black skinny pants that are almost leggings but not quite, with a tunic length high neck black shirt that has this amazing sort of iridescent golden color layered over the black and a pussycat bow at the neck, gold hexagon earrings, and a dark yellow braided velvet headband. I did the usual makeup that I'd do if I were getting coffee with a colleague or running a workshop, pretty but not dramatic with a general sort of shimmery rose eye and tinted red lip balm. Overall I think I looked great and dear boyfriend told me that immediately- and his family is really lovely and I liked them and they liked me and I was invited back and it went very well! Thank you to everyone, you're all the best.
posted by fairlynearlyready at 10:03 PM on November 24 [21 favorites]

Response by poster: Also a special thank you to everyone who reminded me to just dress like myself!
posted by fairlynearlyready at 10:07 PM on November 24 [4 favorites]

« Older Help plan a trip to Europe in May   |   Where to eat dinner today in London with kids near... Newer »

You are not logged in, either login or create an account to post comments