What to wear at an Embassy party

The hubby and I were invited to a party held by the Ambassador of Japan in Senegal the other day. Oh, nothing too fancy. It was just a lunch the Ambassador organizes to meet all the former recipients of the Japanese scholarship.

But as usual before the event, I stressed about what I wanted to wear. For the first time in my life, I already knew what I wanted to wear. I was dead set on the outfit I wore for Eid (Tabaski) this year, a peplum top and wrap around skirt made with this gorgeous Kerelan Saree fabric. Until the hubby said that it was too flashy and that I needed to wear something simple like a dress with a blazer. I finally settled for this after trying out several outfits.

The entire ordeal got me thinking about what one should wear if they are invited to dine with an Ambassador.

But before deciding one should know the kind of events held at an Embassy or by an Ambassador. There are several types that run from semi formal to very formal. You can have a reception to celebrate the country's independence day for example that can be big affairs, or just a brunch to meet and greet with the new Embassy staff. Whatever it is, do your homework first to know what kind of event it is. Also try to figure out who else is invited.

Formal attire:

In these types of events, it is always safe to go for formal particularly when there are no dress code on the invitations. There is no doubt that you will meet other important people at the party on top of the Ambassador and you want to make a good impression, something you cannot do dressed in jeans and trainers. Therefore I recommend going for a suit, a nice fitted dress, or a skirt when it is semi formal. When the invitation states "Black tie" you have to dig out your floor length evening gown.  The outfit does not necessarily need to be in muted colors. If you want to be colorful, go for coordination at least. And if you want to try a print, stick to one. You do not want to dizzy your host or his guests with myriads of clashing prints.  This is not London Fashion Week Street style!

Traditional attire:

Latest trend in Senegalese traditional attire

When in doubt, you can always go with your traditional attire. Before leaving Japan, an employee at the Embassy told me that as of now I was a representative of my country. Therefore wherever I went in Japan, I needed to be on my best behavior so as to perfectly showcase Senegalese values. But more importantly he advise me to wear Senegalese traditional clothes every time I was invited to formal parties. I followed his advice 9 out of 10 times and did not live to regret it. People at those parties, Japanese and foreigners alike were always impressed by my clothes. And it was such a conversation starter to explain what it was. I also got numerous compliments. That is why to this day, wherever I lived: I always wore traditional outfits for parties (unless the dress code said otherwise). And that is what I will recommend also.


Since I am Senegalese, I would wear Senegalese traditional attire such as Boubou or Taille basse that can be very modest. But not every traditional attire is easy to wear. If you have one that you cannot see rocking, make a western outfit in the traditional print or fabric of your country. For example, I could make a fitted dress with an indigo fabric from my country called Thioub. It is still very formal but it has a traditional and original touch.

Whatever you decide to rock, remember the code: it should not be too short, too revealing, too tight, dirty or wrinkled. You want to look polished. Remember your manners as well. If you are not sure about etiquette, google them or ask around. I am sure there is a grown up or someone from high society in your entourage who can teach you a thing or two about behaving properly in such settings. Do not forget to smile and network. You never know who you can meet there that can help you boost your career. But most importantly, enjoy yourself!


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