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As someone who is involved in organizing IFWTWÅ media trips, when someone shows up in cut-offs, ragged jeans, to short of shorts, etc. it is a nightmare.
What Bob says about venue is accurate. For a casual destination on a beach, flip flops are fine. For dining at a 4 or 5 star establishment, flats or sandals would be appropriate.
Many of our members wear jeans and a spot coat with golf shirt for dinner, unless they have been told dressy (tie). What works for touring around, does not work in a fancy venue.
It is better to be clean, neat and professional than have the host turned off by your appearance.
To address "Business Attire" I would say that would be slacks and sport coat and could mean dress shirt and tie depending on venue for men.
For women, slacks and nice top, or skirt and nice top or blazer.
The key to keep in mind is the venue and the host. You don't want to offend.
I'm going on a press trip to Germany--slacks, skirt,blouses, sweater, jacket, dress, scarves, walking shoes, dress shoes. I know we are staying in upscale establishments.
I've also been on casual trips and dress more casually. Take the hosts lead and dress appropriately.
Sorry to rant, but this is a huge issue. When someone comes in dressed inappropriately, believe me, we hear about it and it reflects on the group. Our group now, does not have a problem.
A food-writer friend got a similarly worded invitation, and asked what 'business dress' means. He was told 'What you'd normally wear at work'. So, he pitched up wearing chef's whites!
Your food-writer friend wears chef's whites to eat in the restaurants he's planning on reviewing?
What an odd choice.
He doesn't often do reviews; he hangs around the kitchen, talks to the staff, writes about different methods of preparation, food sourcing etc ... and sometimes gives a hand with the cooking himself.
(also visits farmers and other suppliers ... I suppose what he wears on these visits would be equally appropriate! :D)
What a fun discussion! Give me any reason to dress up a little and I'm happy. :)
I think you always should consider the venue as well. If drinks are at a swanky club vs.an informal pub or a trendy hot spot, it also makes a difference. At a swanky club or resto, I think they would want you men to wear a jacket. At an informal or trendy restaurant, a woven button down shirt is fine, though I'm sure they'd appreciate a blazer too.
In any case, it most certainly means a button down woven shirt, and worn buttoned up, not open and over a tee shirt. I'd avoid jeans unless you're a fashion maven and know how to pull off the perfect jean look. (however, if you're asking this question, you're not) And it always means no sneakers. Eeeww!
I always dress business attire for the travel cocktail receptions and step it up or down a notch depending on the weather and the venue (I'll wear fashinable jeans if it's at a trendy hotel like the Gansevoort, but not if it's at the 21 Club). I can't tell you how many times a publicist at one of these cocktail hours or lunches has asked me if I'm a travel writer because I don't "look like one", and when I ask what that means, they whisper, "you look great and too many travel writers are so sloppy looking". Nuff' said!