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Can anyone help with what to wear to a Mess Dress event?

(36 Posts)
Milngavie Sun 13-Feb-11 12:48:52

I hope you don't mind me posting here to ask this .

My DH an I are attending his regimental reunion in July and it's also a huge anniversary for them. One of the events a ceilidh and everyone is to wear Mess Dress. DH is all kitted out but what on earth does that mean for me?

Evening dress, cocktail dress, covered shoulders?

I'm new to this as DH had left the army 18 months before we met so I'm hoping you can help smile.


vintageteacups Sun 13-Feb-11 13:32:47

I'd go for long evening dress (shoulders covered).

If it were cocktail drinks, then it might say black tie I think.

If the guys/girls are wearing Mess Kit then I'd go with the safer long option. Even if others are wearign shorter, you won't look out of place but if you wear cocktail and they all wear long, you'll feel uneasygrin.

BlueCollie Sun 13-Feb-11 15:06:24

If it's mess dress then definately long dress down to ankles and shoulders covered.
Have fun and don't touch the silver. Oh and make sure you go to the loo before you sit down for dinner.

maltesers Sun 13-Feb-11 15:09:12

As Vintage sad . long, and shoulders covered.
As Blucollie said. .wee first and fab table manners. Pass the port with your . er left, or right . . . . .which hand is it??????
Oh, and possibly be prepared to DP to get drunk. sad

onimolap Sun 13-Feb-11 15:16:37

If a ceilidh, then make sure there is no way whatsoever ever ever that the top of your dress can come adrift! Contact dancing in the Mess is always vigorous, and sometimes draws blood.

Ballerina length (if you can find it this season) is the safe bet.

trixymalixy Sun 13-Feb-11 15:19:39

Yep, long and shoulders covered.

Milngavie Sun 13-Feb-11 17:55:06

Thank you all smile.

I'm quite nervous if I'm being honest. DH has warned me to go to the loo just before dinner and told me all sorts of stories about the guys that haven't managed to wait.

DH has told me to be prepared for grown men acting like teenagers. I did offer to stay home but he's keen I go.

The bigget problem is going to be his older brother, DH feels he has to keep up drink for drink and the results are never pretty sad.

BlueCollie Sun 13-Feb-11 19:50:42

You will have fun and the food should be good. I love going to mess do's as it is an excuse to wear a long frock and drink port. I have always found the other wives to be friendly and welcoming so don't be nervous. I unfortunately got so drunk at one of my DH that me and my friend fell asleep and got carried out blush I fall asleep everywhere though!!

onimolap Sun 13-Feb-11 20:13:01

There will always be some friendly wives around. Ask DH to introduce you early on to some of his former colleagues and their DPs - he should be able to make a reasonable guess at who will be on your wavelength.

If there is a seating plan, get him to explain who's who before you go in.

Don't worry about the loo -as stress will only make the issue worse. Anyhow ladies are allowed to go: the fiction being the exigencies of pregnancy - this actually nothing to do with old-fashioned crustiness; it's simply an excuse to force DH to stand another round of drinks to celebrate the probably non-existent happy event.

Advanced preparation - but only if you feel like it, have DH teach you how to recognise Senior Officers by their plumage - senior officers are often some of the nicest people you can meet, but depending on your DH's rank on departure, he might get a little nervous if he finds you playing drinking games with a Brigadier.

Do remember to have fun - these sorts of events are normally brilliantly organised And you can have a blast.

MrsSnaplegs Sun 13-Feb-11 20:21:32

Definately full length but with enough leeway to have a dance after if it is a ceiledh (sp?)
Covered shoulders but with something you can take off when dancing so a little bolero jacket or shawl or pashmina type thing.
Comfortable shoes that you can dance in and will see you through the night
Be prepared for lots of drinking, pre dinner drinks will probably be something like G&T and something else - avoid anything with Tonic or a mixer in as they all contain artificial sweetners now and they act as diuretics - that is they make you want to pee wink
When they come round and serve wine only accept half a glass each time - plenty of time to have a few more after "ease springs" - they will normally give you a comfort break prior to the speeches.
Port is passed to the left and the male to your left is expected to serve your port for you. Ensure you have some left in your glass for the toast(s)
When the staff come to clear the table after dessert they will take everything bar your port glass and water glass so if you wish to keep your place card and a menu as a keepsake whip them off then and sit on them wink
Your DH is expected to pull your chair out for you, once seated it is normally expected that you wait until after grace to pick up your napkin and look at the menu card.
Do make sure mobile is either not with you, turned off or on silent, do not take photos whilst people are sat at the table - I have seen this recently and it is a big no-no
I am sure there is more but can't get brain to work at the moment hmm

Milngavie Sun 13-Feb-11 21:30:23

You lot are invaluable!

Just checked and there will be a dinner, eek!

I laughed out loud at playing drinking games with the Brigadier! That would be me grin.

Will start looking for dresses now I think, I like the sound of a dress and bolero.

I've suggested taking a she wee, DH was most amused.

I know 3 other people that are going so that's a start.

vintageteacups Mon 14-Feb-11 00:13:01

OMG - don't take a she-wee - my friend had one and it leaked everywhere! Luckily though she was in the car, not at the ladies night dinner grin.

A big thank you to mrssnaplegs - after 12 years, I didn't know you were supposed to wait until after grace to pick up the napkin and look at menu blush.

Also - you don't have to have port - when the waitress goes to take the glasses, make sure you've filled up your port glass with water if you prefer wink.

If you don't drink or you don't fancy drinking wine all through the meal, quietly ask one of the waiting staff if you could possibly have an OJ - they won't mind in the least smile

BlueCollie Mon 14-Feb-11 07:59:03

Oh I went to one mess do where someones wife fell asleep at the dinner table during the speeches....try not to do that LOL

Milngavie Mon 14-Feb-11 11:42:53

I wouldn't take the she wee lol, but ma wish I had smile.

I'll try not to fall asleep and I won't pick up the napkin or menu card until after Grace is said.

Water instead of Port may be a good idea! I have a feeling we'll be in for a long night so will have to pace myself as I don't drink much normally so don't want to make an eejit of myself.

LouBavs Mon 14-Feb-11 15:34:29

Always take the port for a quick sip at the toasts.....then swap it with your OH's empty glass! Well that's what my OH tells me to do, he likes his Port!

notyummy Mon 14-Feb-11 15:38:11

DO NOT touch the silver if there is any on display on the tables at dinner!

Work from the outside in for cutlery.

Sidge Mon 14-Feb-11 15:50:37

Oh you'll have a great time!

We're Navy not Army but lots of Mess rules and regs are similar.

Cover any tattoos and shoulders, and definitely knees. Wear something long and fairly substantial, if slinky and strappy you WILL come adrift during the dancing! Don't wear mad spindly high heels.

Turn phones off or put them on silent, and don't take pics during dinner.

If in doubt follow the lead of someone near you that looks like they know what they're doing. Cutlery outside in, drink lots of water despite the booze flowing freely and you'll be fine.

penguin73 Mon 14-Feb-11 18:10:35

Don't sit down until the guests on the top table have come into the dining room and done so, and don't start eating until the top table have.

Saltire Mon 14-Feb-11 18:14:33

How did you all know from the OP that it was an officers Mess? I just assumed it was a Sgts Mess.

omletta Mon 14-Feb-11 18:59:58

I was wondering the same thing saltire! If it's Sgts don't wear long as you may be over dressed! In fact if it's a ceilidh don't wear long anyway, I remember being terribly over dressed for one in an Officers mess. Dancing isn't generally optional so, as someone else suggested ballerina length & comfy shoes is ideal.
Most importantly enjoy yourself, don't worry too much about the formality as other people will be just as concerned and the very fact that you have bothered to find out shows you have great manners, which is what it's all about.

MrsSnaplegs Mon 14-Feb-11 19:52:11

Saltire I would say same rules for either mess. From experience as both a snco and now an officer (femalegrin) if it is mess dress for males it's long dress. I have seen some cracking mistakes in past and also been in messes where people have been turned away. I have even seen a Cdre wife take a young lady to her house to lend her something more suitable shock

It is worth asking either male taking you or another female that you know is going especially army as some regts are more strict than others

loubielou31 Mon 14-Feb-11 22:17:05

My guess as it's a reunion is that the usual "rules" would be a bit more relaxed.

Never worry about going to the loo, avoid the speeches but there should be a comfort break before them anyway. Even the guys are allowed to go to the loo but they should descreetly ask permission from the most senior person there and are likely to get fined in drinks later, this to my mind is much better than the alternative though.

I agree with the dress advice you've been given, below the knee and shoulders covered.

In some messes women are not even allowed to touch the port bottle. It's a lovely opportunity to have the men do as much for you as possible, "could you please refill my water glass, etc.." to be honest you shouldn't have to ask.

Since your DH has already left the Army it won't really matter what you do so just make sure you have a really lovely evening. (and make up the spare bed because your DH will be so drunk you won't want to sleep in the same bed as him when you get home grin)

notyummy Tue 15-Feb-11 08:22:34

Mrssnaplegs - As the only female officer on a Mess Committee at one base I was on, I was asked by the PMC to ask a young lady to leave the function and come back more suitably attired. What a job!! She was mortified (but polite to me), but I did point out to her that the main person to be cross with was her DP, who should have been better at giving her some guidance.

MrsSnaplegs Tue 15-Feb-11 10:37:58

Notyummy - yep love being given that task ! Good reason not to volunteer for mess committee!

Milngavie Tue 15-Feb-11 20:02:13

Oh God, I have no idea if it's Sgts or Officers!

Will quiz DH. Ballerina length? Can you still get those? Will investigate!

I'm hoping that there will be instructions with the tickets.

I know there is to be a parade and a Beat the Retreat ( different days, different barracks).

DH has his Glengarry sorted and is already polishing the badge grin.

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