Hot on the Forums: Formal Fashion Dos – and Don’ts

July 25, 2014 | By | 17 Comments

There’s a fine line on dress-up night at sea between the right to individual expression and a wardrobe disaster the wearer’s friends or partner should really have helped prevent. But should we really judge what other people wear?
Well, we’re only human (and secretly, not always very nice) and we do judge, as some of us enjoy nothing more than snickering at other people’s outfits.
On the Cruise Critic boards, members are talking about various outrageous outfits including UPNYguy who writes: “Last year on Veendam while sailing a Canada/NE coastal cruise, a … woman … was wearing an open, ladder back style dress. The ladder back continued down her backside TO her rump. Every step she took, the ladder back moved up and down.”
Then there are the eccentric dressers; member Boytjie recalls: “On the QM2 on a formal night: a gentleman in a white tuxedo… and some kind of animal tail sticking out from his behind.”
And the purely practical. According to member 4boysnana: “A few years ago we were on a cruise with two elderly sisters that we would see every night in the dining room. One was tall and one was short. They had two lovely dresses, one white polyester and one bright blue in the same fabric. Every night they would rotate and switch who was wearing each dress. They were having a great time. Saved room in the suitcase!”
Don’t be too harsh on fellow cruisers who appear sartorially challenged. You don’t know what their circumstances are. A normally very elegant friend of mine remembers: “The airline had lost my bag and I was sailing on Eurodam. They sent someone to the cabin to measure me for a tuxedo and about 6pm on formal night, this monstrosity appeared. The shoulder pads were straight out of Dynasty. The shirt sleeves were two inches too long and the trousers at least four inches too long. I made it to the bar, mortified, turned around, went back to my cabin and changed into shorts and a polo shirt and had a pizza on deck.”
As member Colleyberry points out, “A mean spirit trumps an unflattering outfit every time.” Quite.
On the other hand, if you have any stories to share about fashion disasters at sea… You know where to share them!

*Check out our guide to cruise ship dress codes.

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    17 Responses to “Hot on the Forums: Formal Fashion Dos – and Don’ts”

    1. AudalSomerset
      July 25th, 2014 @ 1:58 pm

      On one cruise we were on a gentleman from Puerto Rico looked ok from the back in a tux but when he turned around he had on a black tee shirt that lit up with changing colours. He was happy.

    2. gaynell
      July 25th, 2014 @ 2:30 pm

      Have seen formal wear from full formal kilt(the ultimate) to black suit, black shirt, no tie(very sharp); and from ball gowns (over the top) to pant suits. I think the trend away from strict enforcement (whatever that means) is healthy. Most people show some common sense and at least refrain from shorts and tank tops. The problem is those who really are ignorant of the dress code–how do we educate them? Is it possible?

    3. Carol
      July 25th, 2014 @ 2:57 pm

      For our last cruise in June this year I bought my husband a new evening shirt, it was from M&S white with little black balls with diamond center buttons, the only problem was every time he moved they would all come undone and his stomach would be showing. I returned the shirt and our money refunded. Next shirt will have proper buttons and button holes.

    4. Alan
      July 25th, 2014 @ 3:04 pm

      Formal night is just to sell photos. I’m on vacation man. I’ll wear a long sleeve collared shirt, slacks and dress shoes. Who am I trying to impress?

    5. DBC
      July 25th, 2014 @ 3:14 pm

      Love formal nights. No gowns but do wear long dresses. Hubby either wears his tux, white dinner jacket, or we just resently found a suit which must have been ordered for a wedding party member as the material is like a tux would be. Found it at a major stores clearance center hubby likes it so much better than his tux. I don’t care what anyone else wears as long as they leave me alone.

    6. Elizabeth
      July 25th, 2014 @ 3:21 pm

      Just don’t like the people who give the dining room staff a hard time when they show up to MDR without appropriate attire and are corrected by the staff. They blow their stack and get in anyway even though there is a dress code. Not cool… It puts the staff in such an awkward position.

    7. Karen119
      July 25th, 2014 @ 4:01 pm

      I’m retired. I don’t dress up anymore-actually I haven’t for the past several cruises. One cruise I went on with my then BFF was a nine nighter. She brought nine formal outfits, nine pairs of heels, nine sets of jewelry, and nine pairs of PANTY HOSE!! I bring one pair of white pants to wear at dinner and lots of different tops. During the day, I’m in a bathing suit or white shorts and a colored top. I’ve been on enough cruises that my attitude is “Been there-done that”. I don’t go in the dining room but stick with pizza, the Lido buffet, or some other informal dining attraction. If you want to dress up, fine. I prefer not to and if it means dinner in the cabin via room service, that’s fine with me.

    8. Debra M
      July 25th, 2014 @ 4:27 pm

      I love formal night. I love to sit by the doors & check out what everyone is wearing. Yes, some are nicer than others, but I’m no fashion plate, so I can’t snark. I just like to get fancy for a change & see everyone else done up as well. If you want to stay on deck for pizza, fill your boots. Me, I like the glitz.

    9. Leslie
      July 25th, 2014 @ 5:02 pm

      My husband wears a suit and I always wear a cocktail dress. We eat leave the dining room and change back into casual clothing appropriate for the evening shows. That way we meet dress code and we can relax afterward.

    10. sande2000
      July 25th, 2014 @ 5:36 pm

      We have only gone on 5 cruises, but we love dressing up on formal night. My husband bought a dinner jacket on clearance and I have never paid more than $35 for my formal night dresses. Dress Barn always has something pretty on sale. If you don’t want to dress up pick another cruise line!

    11. Sue
      July 25th, 2014 @ 7:04 pm

      I love the formal nights. I love to dress up and look glamorous. It makes me feel like a million dollars. I don’t spend a fortune on my attire and wear costume jewellery but it’s so much fun!

    12. Harry
      July 25th, 2014 @ 8:24 pm

      I don’t CARE what anyone wears. It is their vacation, They can dress however they want and it is NOT our job to judge them

    13. Kathleen Byers
      July 25th, 2014 @ 10:25 pm

      I am simply not comfortable in a dress, but I do love lace and sequins so I opt for dressy pantsuits for formal evenings. I have not seen many in the dining room who look they should be on the pool deck instead, but I did see a women dining with her family in the MDR on formal night dressed in a faerie-like outfit complete with bright green eye make-up! As a matter of fact, all her outfits were so eclectic that I couldn’t wait for her to make her entrance each and every evening!

    14. Scott Downen
      July 25th, 2014 @ 10:38 pm

      I don’t even Pack Pants when I cruise…I don’t wear Pants for anyone….after all I live in Florida…lol

    15. luvly pumpkin
      July 26th, 2014 @ 6:09 am

      I love formal nights to me it’s what cruising is all about.

    16. lovely_serenity
      July 27th, 2014 @ 1:55 am

      Formal night and dressing up are some of my favourite aspects of cruising! I enjoy it because there are typically, rarely any other occasions in which we can dress to the nines! I honestly don’t care what other people wish to dress formally or not during formal night, but it is a little inconsiderate to others if they wish to forcefully dine in the main dining room without adhering to the dress code. Those who wish to forego fancy dressing can enjoy themselves in the casual venues, while those who wish to dress up can dine in the fancier venues! I actually love scoping out what kinds of dresses other ladies put on on formal night! There was this one lady I saw on my last cruise, she wore this top that was like a belly dancers top! Very interesting ^^’ Her outfits appeared to getg more revealing each night that passed! And we were on a 12 night cruise!

    17. Rick Akin
      July 29th, 2014 @ 1:23 pm

      If a ship has a dress code, I will abide by it. Be that as it may, I don’t care what anyone else chooses to wear. I don’t live my life to care about others’ fashion choices. I’d much rather sit to dinner with someone who is wearing a pair of shorts, enjoying themselves and getting to know them, than someone who makes snap judgements for what others are wearing. Casual dress doesn’t make a person ugly. Ugly opinions, however, do.

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