What do you wear to a college dinner at Oxford

(29 Posts)
VivaLeBeaver Wed 15-Jan-20 20:47:46

DD’s boyfriend is at Oxford and she’s visiting in a couple of weeks. He’s going to take her to some sort of formal college dinner and has told her to “bring a nice dress”.

How formal are we talking? She has clubbing dresses and a ball gown and nothing in between.

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VivaLeBeaver Wed 15-Jan-20 20:50:13

He’s at Magdalen if that makes a difference.

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FabTab Wed 15-Jan-20 21:00:59

We wore cocktail dresses but I’m a light blue and it was 30 years ago. Hopefully someone more up to date will come along.

VivaLeBeaver Wed 15-Jan-20 21:04:22

Had to think about light blue for a minute but got it. 😆. Thanks.

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VivaLeBeaver Wed 15-Jan-20 21:05:53

It’s a Sunday night dinner which google suggests is more formal than other nights.

Oh, also she has can’t eat gluten and she’s vegetarian....will they cope with this? Does she need to pre warn someone?

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FabTab Wed 15-Jan-20 21:08:16

They’ll definitely be able to cope with both of these. I would pre warn them though.

laburnumtree Wed 15-Jan-20 21:08:39

It's been a few years but generally cocktail dresses were the way to go. I have so many lovely dresses I don't get to wear now I'm a single mum and have no smart dinners to go to!

I suspect that now there is a wide range worn between 'smart casual' and almost ball gown level. Any knee length (ish) dress/skirt & evening top would be fine I'm sure, but if she wants a new dress for the occasion I'd suggest a cocktail style would be best.


Whynotnowbaby Wed 15-Jan-20 21:11:56

Agree with cocktail dress if you want to be safe. Is it just formal hall (i.e. the formal supper they have every week or even more often) or a special dinner? Formal hall was often pretty informal at my college, we had it every night and for those of us who lived in as first years it was the only option for food if we had late tutorials so we didn’t tend to go to town. Special dinners would be much more formal, there would be a visiting dignitary /bigwig and we had to sign up for the limited spaces and turn up looking presentable and worthy of the event. This may vary college to college, mine was old and stuffy (Merton) and a distressingly long time ago now!

Binterested Wed 15-Jan-20 21:13:44

Not sure if this is an event or just Sunday dinner in hall which is formal in the sense that sometimes you are required to wear your gown ( academic ) but not dress up iyswim.

VivaLeBeaver Wed 15-Jan-20 21:17:38

I think it’s just Sunday dinner, not a special occasion.

She’s remembered a smarter Ted Baker dress she got for a wedding last year so we think that may be ok. Knee length and smart. She doesn’t have a gown.

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StVincent Wed 15-Jan-20 21:20:06

Sort of thing you’d wear to a wedding is perfect. Or any smartish clothes really. Smart top and trousers would do just as well.

goodbyestranger Wed 15-Jan-20 21:20:47

She's a guest so obv she wouldn't wear a gown. One of my DD's was at Magdalen, there's no need for anything over the top at all.

FramingDevice Wed 15-Jan-20 21:23:11

If it’s just formal hall, the undergraduates will be fairly casual with a gown thrown over the top to hide a multitude of ills! She’ll be absolutely fine in any kind of dress.

VivaLeBeaver Wed 15-Jan-20 21:32:50

Thanks everyone.

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HostessTrolley Wed 15-Jan-20 21:37:37

Dd’s boyf is also at Oxford - not Magdalen. Saturday night formal dinner she wore a just above the knee length Lipsy dress she has, not low cut etc. She said it was at the right level, they got changed out of their ‘dressed up’ into jeans and jumpers to go to the college bar for drinks after

HostessTrolley Wed 15-Jan-20 21:42:47

Btw, Dd also got ‘just bring a nice dress’ - boys are a bit useless lol. Had the exact same quandary with ‘that’s too prom-y, that’s too club-y’. Dd is also veggie and it was not a problem, she said the food was ‘ok and cheaper than eating out’.

TheoneandObi Wed 15-Jan-20 22:01:56

Don't go too formal. Not as formal as a wedding (DS is a recent Cambridge grad and we got invited to a 'parents' formal'. Wear a dress you feel comfy in, and a cracking smile!

VivaLeBeaver Wed 15-Jan-20 22:06:36

This is Very similar to the dress she has....hers a lower neckline (but not too low).

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Etcni Wed 15-Jan-20 22:09:34

Yes, your dd's boyfriend should tell catering when he signs her up as a guest of her dietary needs because it's just one menu for everyone rather than ordering from different options so they won't be able to do anything on the night if they don't know in advance. Or at least that was how it was at my Oxford college (within the past five years). She doesn't need to wear a gown.

multivac Wed 15-Jan-20 22:12:27

Smart clothes. Advise about dietary needs in advance. It's just dinner in a college hall - it's not Buckingham Palace, or Hogwarts.

FWIW, when I was at Magdalen I deliberately flouted all dress codes because I was a snotty chip-on-the-shoulder kid. No one cared, or even noticed. Why would they?

VivaLeBeaver Wed 15-Jan-20 22:12:35

Thanks, will definitely get him to prewarn about the diet requirements.

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multivac Wed 15-Jan-20 22:15:56

Oh also, watch out for Magdalen boys. Some of them get prizes depending on what they bring for dinner...

VivaLeBeaver Wed 15-Jan-20 22:19:13

Oh also, watch out for Magdalen boys. Some of them get prizes depending on what they bring for dinner...

Oh dear, he said he wanted to bring her to dinner so everyone could meet her! 🙈

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multivac Wed 15-Jan-20 22:20:07

I'm sure he's lovely grin

Bezalelle Wed 15-Jan-20 22:20:49

"What they bring"? confused

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