This week I attended the Autism Speaks to Wall Street Celebrity Chef Gala. It was an amazing event, raising awareness and funds for an incredibly important cause. (Did you know that autism affects 70 million people worldwide? Did you know that one in 68 children and one in 42 boys lives with autism?) That evening raised $1.3 million. It was very powerful and touching and I wrote about it for DOWNTOWN Magazine here.

But, as a men’s style consultant, I can’t go to an event like that, when everyone is all dressed up, and not think about menswear and how this applies to my clients. The event was called a “Gala” but these days what does that even mean when it comes to dressing?

The consensus, according to a quick Google search, is that you should go all out and wear your absolute best attire, but that wasn’t necessarily the case last night. Men wore all varieties of "gala" attire from suits with ties and pocket squares to no ties at all to a few slim-fitting sweaters. There were not many tuxedos, and Robert De Niro wore a black polo shirt, navy blazer and grey pants. Women wore everything from business suits to ball gowns. Which all goes to show that the rules for dressing are changing constantly.

The safest bet for women attending a gala or charity event (unless otherwise specified) is a cocktail dress. For men, a good-fitting suit (more on that here), but with a touch more effort than what you’d wear for the office – a sharp shirt and tie combo with a tie bar or an open collar with a pocket square. An invite to a gala ten years ago would have been significantly more dressed up affair, but these days it’s more about looking sharp and making an effort than it is about busting out your best formal wear.

 So next time you have an event to go to and you’re not sure what to wear, feel free to shoot me an email. In case you couldn’t tell I love talking about all this. 

Me and Ted Allen

Me and Ted Allen

Above is me and the host of the evening, Ted Allen from Chopped, sporting a perfectly put together suit, slim tie, tie bar and just a peek of a pocket square. 

Autism Speaks Co-Founders Suzanne and Bob Wright with Robert De Niro.

Autism Speaks Co-Founders Suzanne and Bob Wright with Robert De Niro.

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