What I Wore: Christening And After Party

This past weekend, my family and I attended our niece’s christening (the church ceremony where a child is baptized) and the small party afterwards.

The day presented some fun sartorial challenges.

I wanted to make sure I was dressed formally for the occasion, so that meant a jacket and tie were essential. But the after party was outside at my in-laws’ house. I had to also make sure what I wore was practical enough to handle rambunctious kids and potential refreshment spills.

Lastly, the temperature that day was creeping towards 70 degrees and the weather was sunny, so I had to make sure I could doff the jacket and tie and still look put-together.

Unexpectedly, the entire outfit hinged on my pants.

I originally considered simply wearing a suit. I never get to wear suits anymore and this was a perfect opportunity. But this wasn’t an office affair or a date night with my wife. We were going to be around the kids. I needed to wear something easily launderable.

Enter my non-iron chinos from Lands’ End. Sturdy, dependable, inexpensive. They look surprisingly smart, too. Also, I don’t get any commissions for products I link to on this site. If I recommend anything, it’s because I actually use it and like it.

Obviously, I tumbled down the formality ladder once I opted for cotton pants over a suit and the accompanying worsted wool trousers, but it’s a sacrifice I felt comfortable making knowing I would still be in a jacket and tie. And let’s face it: to the casual observer there isn’t much difference between “odd-jacket/chinos” and “suit” nowadays anyway.

My jacket of choice was my navy blazer from Brooks Brothers. Pretty much as classic as you can get. I recently had it tailored (finally!) so I was looking forward to letting it see some light. While I usually prefer to wear rougher sport coats around the kids since they hide stains better, I was already wearing cotton chinos and felt like a sport coat would make everything a little too casual. Also, both of my sons were wearing navy blazers and they got a kick out of the solidarity.

As you can see, my jacket did not make it through the day unscathed. More on that below.

For my shirt, I wanted something that looked good under a jacket with a tie, but also looked at home at a backyard party. Surprise, surprise, the white oxford-cloth button-down got the call. Mine is from Lands’ End (the Hyde Park range) and the only thing that bugs me about it is the collar. It’s too small. But, as I have said before, the shirts are so ludicrously inexpensive that I don’t think twice about wearing them in situations where I know there is a good chance something will get spilled or splattered on them.

The tie I chose was a red, white, and navy stripe from Charles Tyrwhitt. Again, inexpensive so I don’t care if anything happens to it. I could have gone for a more sober solid, but the whole get-up was feeling a little sporty at this point so a brighter striped number felt like a good choice. The red, white, and blue combination of the tie, shirt, and blazer added some nice, colorful pop which felt appropriate for the festive occasion.

I also opted for a tie bar in order to keep my tie securely in one place. This was a somewhat dynamic scenario and I knew I would be doing a lot of child/wrangling. This one was a silver tie bar from Tiffany that my wife gave me many years ago. It’s a bit tarnished (normal for silver) but I think it gives it a really interesting visual depth. I know tie bars go in and out of favor, and I know some people positively hate them, but they really are practical for when you’re moving around a lot and don’t want your tie flapping about. Yes, you can keep your jacket buttoned all the time, but that’s not practical when you’re up and down chasing the kids around.

For footwear, I went full Trad and wore Bass Weejun penny loafers.

Now, when you look at it all together, there is certainly nothing groundbreaking about this ensemble. Honestly, an OCBD, chinos, loafers, and navy blazer is probably one of the first things that come to mind for most of us when we think of “dressed nicely, but not a suit”. And I am not trying to claim that what I did here was any sort of sartorial wizardry.

What I am trying to show is why this particular outfit is so versatile and practical for dads.

You’re wearing a jacket and tie, so you have the “this is a formal event” thing nailed down. BUT you don’t have to be precious about anything because 99% of what you’re wearing can be chucked in the wash once you get home.

And once the ceremony is over and the sun’s beating down while you’re having a couple beers, you’ll look like a “summering” JFK with your OCBD sleeves insouciantly rolled up. All the layers work on their own, which is not always the case if you’re in a full suit (if you have things like suspenders and cufflinks to deal with).

The kicker for me here is the entire cost of the ensemble, proving you don’t have to spend a lot to look good.

The jacket was the most expensive item at $248 on sale last year. I had it tailored which added roughly another $60. So, let’s say the jacket in its entirety cost $310. That’s certainly not nothing, but it’s also a fair price, in my opinion, for a handsome, classic wardrobe staple that I will get decades of use out of.

The tie cost $35. Charles Tyrwhitt is always doing steep discounts so I never buy anything of theirs full price. The tie bar was a gift.

The shirt was $24. Again, on sale. I’ve seen these Lands’ End Hyde Park oxfords as low as $12.

The pants were also about $24.

The loafers were a hair over $100 if I remember correctly. For the quality, that felt… just alright. I wouldn’t go any higher than that for these. But again, I got them on sale.

I have no idea how much my belt was. I think I got it as a gift many years ago.

Adding everything up, my entire outfit cost in the neighborhood of $500. I certainly didn’t pay all of that in one shot, which is another benefit over a full suit. With an outfit like this, you can buy the shirt, or the pants, and then the tie, the shoes and then the jacket and have all those pieces at your disposal to use in a myriad of other instances while you build the rest of the outfit. With buying a suit, you need to drop all that money straight away, which might be impossible for some.

So, in theory, it all sounds great. But, in practice, how did the outfit perform?

Admirably, I must say.

Unfortunately, I don’t have any pictures of myself from the day (until I got home, that is, when I took the pictures you see above). We were all way too busy, to which I am sure you can all relate!

As far as formality, I was smack in the middle of the pack. Some of the men wore full suits. Some others wore khakis and dress shirts. Still others opted for the same blazer/chinos (with or without a tie) combination that I did.

Given the fact that I wasn’t wearing anything too terribly precious, I felt comfortable wrestling my two-year-old out of the church when he was clearly too full of energy to sit still and not cause a scene. I also needed, at times, to be elbow-deep in some bouncy-house shenanigans so it was nice not having to think twice about what I had on.

I didn’t need to remove my jacket or tie at the party, since the weather was cool enough, which was nice. The tie bar proved useful when leaning over the catering trays to grab some food for the kiddos (not to mention then cutting up their meat, which they promptly ignored in favor of the aforementioned bouncy-house).

The only downside to what I wore was that stains showed up pretty readily on my dark, worsted blazer. As you can see in the pics, my shoulder and lapel did not make it through the day unscathed (neither did my sleeve). What caused the stains? I think it was whatever was dripping out of my son’s nose.

No worries, though. I put some water on it when I got home. I think it came out, but if not, it’s nothing a trip to the cleaners can’t fix.

That’s always the danger with dark, solid, smooth-textured jackets when you’re around kids. Stains will show up, unfortunately. Again, I could have worn a tweed jacket, which would have hidden the stains more effectively, but I didn’t want to run the risk of appearing too casual at the event. Not a big deal.

All in all, the day was immensely enjoyable and I had fun figuring out what to wear.

I’ve said it many times before, but we should all try to glean some enjoyment from getting dressed, whether it’s for a special event or just for a regular, run-of-the-mill weekday.

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