California Black Tie

My favorite fashionista, Manolo the Shoeblogger, has expressed his confusion about what “California black tie” means on an invitation. I can tell you exactly what it means, because Peter and I have worn it, but I’m not sure it’s exactly a good thing anywhere east of the Mississippi.

A few years ago, my friend Kyra Zorn, sent us an invitation to her wedding in Boston. Peter and I chose to wear clothes that had been rather dressy at another wedding (in California) that we’d gone to a few months earlier. I don’t remember what Peter wore, though it was complementary to my outfit: probably a polo shirt and pants. I had a blue sundress with big splashy white flowers on it. I’m pretty sure I wore sandals with it, even though it was snowing in Boston that day.

Kyra, just to give you a context of the situation, is, and dresses like, an East Coast urban sophisticate. The California bride whose earlier wedding we attended, was a California office professional. Oh, what a mistake we made in believing one would be anything like the other! Everyone, and I do mean, everyone else, at Kyra’s wedding, was dressed in expensive suits or satin dresses bought from and carefully fitted at Brooks Brothers or Lord & Taylor. I’m pretty sure Kyra’s dress came from Barney’s. Peter and I (and Neil) looked like we had been teleported out of a beach bar and stumbled into this posh occasion.

Everyone we spoke to prefaced their introduction with “You must be Kyra’s friends from California!” Yes, yes, we were, gee, how did you know?

We swore we’d never make the same mistake again. But maybe one of Kyra’s friends thought it was funny and has now made it a dress description.


  1. Chris

    Manolo: he no is my favorite fashionista. He no like the Birkies! Not the hippie sandals, nor even the Birkie clogs. At one point, both of my favorite pairs of shoes were in the Manolo’s Hall of shame. But still, I love the Birkies very much. They make my feet happy. Manolo, he can F-off.

    Carolyn, she went to school in the East. Have the fashion standards changed a lot since then?

  2. Samantha

    I’m from Boston, and yes the clothing standard is much different here. To a wedding I would wear a favorite Armani suit and a pair of Manolos and to a fancier one a nice gown. California is a much different lifestyle and I’m sure that you and your family gave everyone quite a laugh, but they probably thought you wre cool!


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