@AskEmmi - What Should I Wear To Meet The Parents?

Q - My girlfriend hates how I dress. I've been having nightmares about going to her folks home for Thanksgiving. She says when they say casual, it's not my version of casual (jeans and tshirt). I need a little guidance please! 

What to wear for Thanksgiving for men

A - I get this question almost daily around the holidays and have come to realize that the confusion comes from a codependent set of common misconceptions. First, that in order to be better dressed, one has to dress more formally, and second, that the only two options for social gatherings are either jeans and T-shirt or dress pants and dress shirt. Inside that rule set it’s nearly impossible to get dressed for a celebratory, casual dinner.

Looking pulled together in ‘relaxed’ clothes is about mirroring the attributes of more formal dressing, such as:

  • form flattering construction (emphasis on shoulders, not stomach) 
  • quality fabrics (cashmere/wool in lieu of pilled cotton)
  • making good use of layering and accessories

Try a tailored sweater or cardigan over a nice (not Hanes) T-shirt or dressy casual button-down, and jeans or casual trousers. The sweater acts as the ‘finishing’ piece adding more substance to your look and cleverly hiding any belly extension you’ll encounter after second helpings.

You can use footwear to make your look even more casual by pairing with some basic Chucks or dress it up with a half boot or lace-up oxford. And don’t forget your most important accessory, a gorgeous bouquet for your girlfriend’s mom.